Dr Tan Sui is a Lecturer in Materials Engineering (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at the University of Surrey, UK . Her current research group consists of one Research Fellow, four PhD students as principal supervisor and three PhD/EngD students as co-supervisor. Her research portfolio is focused on investigating the structure property evolution and structural integrity of hierarchical natural and bioinspired materials. Her research areas also include probing the processing-structure-residual stress relationship and micromechanical mechanism of failure in engineering alloys and advanced energy materials. Her expertise includes synchrotron X-ray with multi-modal correlative microscopy and multi-scale modelling. Her research vision is to characterise and understand the intricate links between structure and mechanical property in these material systems at different length scales, as this is essential for development towards improved design and extended functionality for future applications.
In 2018 Dr Sui’s group purchased a high-precision tension-compression-bending stage from Deben UK (MT5000), the MT5000 system was ordered with various exchangeable loadcells and a heating-cooling feature. The aim is to develop a unique facility which specialises in in-situ & correlative materials characterisation at the University of Surrey. The Deben MT5000 has been successfully integrated with a TESCAN FERA3 Xe Plasma FIB-SEM at Surrey and synchrotron X-ray beamlines at Diamond Light Source (DLS). A full range of loading scenarios and sequences will undoubtedly enable the generation of new data that will provide further insight into the complex mechanism of mechanical deformation and failure in natural and engineered materials (including dental tissues, bioinspired composites and engineering alloys).
Nathanael Leung hard at work using the Deben MT5000 Microtest Tensile Stage integrated in the PFIB-SEM at the University of Surrey.
Mr Nathanael Leung (a second-year PhD student) and Dr Jingyi Mo (a Research Fellow) from Dr Sui’s group have been working on novel bioinspired dental composite using the Deben Microtest MT5000 system. The experimental work provided the groundwork for a recently awarded 2-year EPSRC grant (EP/S022813/1), collaborating with University of Bristol, University of Birmingham, Chinese University of Hong Kong and National Physical Laboratory (NPL) . The goal of the project is to provide a fundamental understanding of the role of bioinspired microstructural features in determining the mechanical properties of novel dental composites for dental crown applications. Studies have shown that over 40% of the world’s population are affected by oral disease, therefore there is a ‘real-life’ growing demand for highly effective solutions with increased longevity.
Nathanael describes his work and experience using the Deben system: ‘My project is to optimise the design and development of cost effective, freeze-casted, bioinspired ceramic composites, fabricated in the Biomaterials Engineering Group (bioMEG) led by Professor Bo Su, Bristol, by studying the fracture mechanics of the material. I do this by using the Deben stage to perform 3-point bending fracture toughness tests on nacre-like composites, inside an SEM. Being able to perform these tests in an SEM allows me to observe and identify the fracture mechanisms that are taking place, in real-time. This tells me what adjustments need to be made to the microstructural design and to determine a structural configuration that provides the optimum fracture toughness properties’.
“In-situ fracture toughness testing of a lamellar alumina-PMMA composite. Secondary electron and back-scattered electron images of the notch tip showing early crack growth, next to which is the synchronised Deben force-displacement curve.”
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