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Surface Engineering and Nanotechnology Institute

Experts in Surface Engineering and Nanotechnology

The Surface Engineering and Nanotechnology Institute (SENTi) performs world-class research and technological development through engagement with industry. It provides the critical mass of research staff and coating technologies to develop new surface engineering technologies, methods and practice through to prototype component manufacture.

The Surface Engineering and Nanotechnology Institute (SENTi) is a world-leading centre of excellence for innovative research into atomistic and particulate based manufacturing techniques for the production of protective and active surface coating systems with a mission to transform innovative manufacturing research into engineered products.

The Institute works closely with industry, non-government organisations and government agencies to foster the use of coating systems and surface engineering as part of high-value manufacturing and operates across a range of sectors, including aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, biomedical and mining with our client base varying from large multinational companies such as Rolls-Royce and Siemens to SMEs and micro-companies. This ensures that the research carried out, whether at a fundamental, strategic or applied level, is of direct relevance to both industry and academia and demonstrates best surface engineering practice.

SENTi fosters and accelerates development of emerging high value products through fundamental, strategic and applied research from the nanotechnology scale through to prototype component manufacture and integrates this knowledge base into related postgraduate studies.


  • Supporting your business

    Our research is focused at four technology levels:

    • New knowledge, skills and technology (TRL 1-2) - Research and development at this level is undertaken using sponsored research student programmes at Masters and PhD/EngD levels with studentships provided directly by industry, through CASE awards or through government doctoral training account (DTA) programmes.
    • Exploratory studies (TRL 2-3) - Short-term research consultancy contracts, usually 12 months or less, to explore the manufacturing feasibility or early system performance of new materials or coatings.
    • Development of optimised manufacturing methods and coating systems performance validation (TRL 2-4) - Research undertaken by post-doctoral fellows, research staff and established, experienced technical teams. Often research funded at this technology level may be supported by EPSRC, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the European Commission and Industry. Programmes can be co-funded or directly funded by industry as required.
    • Pilot scale component manufacture and in-plant performance evaluation (TRL 4-5) - Customer oriented research aimed at new product introduction where batches of components are manufactured at a pre-production pilot scale. Research and development at this level is designed to complement the remit of the TSB HVM Catapult Centres and will usually involve an OEM and their supply chain to provide the necessary manufacturing data to ensure rapid product replacement/insertion into the supply chain. Research is either directly funded by industry or in conjunction with the TSB or European Commission.

    In addition to these four technology driven themes, studentships are available to undertake exploratory science that underpins coating manufacture and surface engineering, independent of any industrial sponsor. Likewise, it is possible to undertake 'commercial in confidence' consultancy directly for industry without the association with postgraduate student training.

    Industrial clients with over five years continued support of collaborative research with the Surface Engineering and Nanotechnology Institute (SENTi):

    • Daido Metals, 5 years - Novel bearing coatings.
    • Meggitt,15 years - Nanotechnology and functional materials.
    • Proctor and Gamble, 5 years - Functional materials and thin film sensor technologies.
    • Rolls-Royce plc, 35 years - Thermal barrier coating systems, new bondcoat technologies, corrosion resistant coating, oxidation, cyclic oxidation, hot corrosion, corrosion-fatigue, high temperature erosion.
    • SCS Ltd, 10 years - Sensing Thermal Barrier Coatings; Self-diagnostic TBCs.
    • Sensata, 5 years - Thin film thermal and mass-flow sensors for automotive applications.
    • Siemens IT, 19 years - Corrosion resistant coatings, Smart coating technologies, high temperature corrosion, corrosion-fatigue interactions.
    • Teer Coatings, 6 years - Multi-layered wear resistant coatings, Supra-elastic wear resistant coatings.
  • Our people

  • Our facilities and resources

    The extensive research facilities are incorporated in three Centres of Excellence within SENTi:

    The National High Temperature Surface Engineering Centre (NHTSEC)

    The Centre has established a worldwide reputation for its expertise in designing, testing and analysing coatings/surface treatments, especially for components subjected to extreme and hostile environments. The NHTSEC is a unique university centre - it is 82% funded directly from industrially related contracts and is the only university centre worldwide that can deposit coatings that go directly into Rolls-Royce UK test engines. The Centre has experience and expertise in a range of coating techniques and can be called upon for surface engineering solutions from design of coatings through production, analysis and testing to lifeing of coating systems.

    Sol-gel Coating

    Sol-gel processing is one of the versatile wet chemical methods that can create nano-crystalline or nano-scaled amorphous materials, from oxides in early days to non-oxides in recent times. Sol-gel processing can make organic and inorganic hybrid that bring synergy between the dissimilar properties of organic and inorganic compounds in a single material. Sol-gel processing can lead to the generation of:

    • Dense ceramic bodies
    • Coating/thin films
    • Aerogels
    • Monoliths
    • Ceramic fibres.

    Sol-gel Coating Centre at Cranfield established in late 20th century is equipped with state-of-arts facilities for pilot scale demonstration of all associated operations of the coating technology. The Centre has been working with many industrial partners for development and demonstration of sol-gel coatings for a wide variety of applications, such as, functional coatings/thin films, coatings for antifouling, thermal barrier, corrosion, etc.

    Cranfield Nano

    A founding member of the Piezo Institute undertaking nanofabrication and nanotechnology research. The gateway to engage with nanotechnology expertise at Cranfield and offers a proven track record of nanotechnology research. Research activities range from the development of new functional nanomaterials through to biosensors and atomistic simulation of nanostructures, encompassing such diverse areas as materials science, medicine, biology, physics and chemistry with applications in a broad range of industrial sectors; as diverse as aerospace, automotive, defence, energy, environment, healthcare, management, manufacturing and security.

    The Institute's world-class facilities include clean rooms, laboratories and test/fabrication services through to prototype component manufacture, with extensive analysis, modelling, synthesis and characterisation capability. We offer Surface Engineering Solutions that aDAPT to your needs (Design, Analysis, Production, Testing) within the theme of ‘Design for Process Excellence’.

  • Postgraduate degrees full-time

    Courses offered by this Institute are listed below. You can also view our related courses in Manufacturing

    • Applied Nanotechnology

      Cranfield's MSc is suitable for graduates with science, engineering or related degrees keen to develop careers at the cutting-edge of micro-engineering; or graduates currently working in industry.

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    • Manufacturing Technology and Management

      The MSc in Manufacturing Technology and Management develops professionals with the ability to transform knowledge into action, providing students with the breadth of both technical and business skills

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  • Postgraduate degrees part-time

    • Applied Nanotechnology

      Cranfield's MSc is suitable for graduates with science, engineering or related degrees keen to develop careers at the cutting-edge of micro-engineering; or graduates currently working in industry.

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    • Manufacturing Technology and Management

      The MSc in Manufacturing Technology and Management develops professionals with the ability to transform knowledge into action, providing students with the breadth of both technical and business skills

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  • Professional Development (CPD)

    • Extreme Surface Engineering and Coatings

      23 June - 25 June 2015

      This course covers practical deposition and characterisation of functional coatings and thin films for multiple applications such as mechanical, biomedical, catalytic, electronic, and power generation

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    • Optical Thin Film Coatings TechnologyNew

      08 July - 10 July 2015

      An overview on optical thin film coatings focussing on multilayer designs, functionality, spectroscopy and coatings for fibre sensors. Encompassing a diverse range of material design & new technology.

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  • Current research projects

  • Current research opportunities

  • Publications

    • Yang X, Zhou J, Zhang S, Shen J, Tian J, Chen W & Zhang Q (2015) Direct measurement of electric field-induced strains of a single lead zirconate titanate piezoelectric ceramic fibre under various conditions, Ceramics International, 41 (1) 1657-1662.

    • Cruchley S, Sun JF, Taylor MP, Evans HE, Bowen P, Sumner J, Nicholls JR, Simms NJ, Shollock BA, Chater RJ, Foss BJ, Hardy MC & Stekovic S (2014) Cautionary note on use of focused ion beam sectioning as technique for characterising oxidation damage in Ni based superalloys, Materials At High Temperatures, 31 (1) 27-33.

    • Durazo-Cardenas IS, Noguera-Sagrera A & Impey SA (2014) Analysis of infrared optical polishing effluents and reduction of COD and TSS levels by ultrafiltration and coagulation/flocculation, Desalination and Water Treatment, 52 (25-27) 4612-4621.

    • Wang D, Filoux E, Levassort F, Lethiecq M, Rocks SA & Dorey RA (2014) Fabrication and characterization of annular-array, high-frequency, ultrasonic transducers based on PZT thick film, Sensors and Actuators A-Physical, 216 207-213.

    • Gries T, Catrin R, Migot S, Soldera F, Endrino JL, Landa-Canovas AR, Cleymand F, Mangin D, Muecklich F & Horwat D (2014) Local Modification of the Microstructure and Electrical Properties of Multifunctional Au-YSZ Nanocomposite Thin Films by Laser Interference Patterning, Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces, 6 (16) 13707-13715.

    • Zhao Y, Hao X & Zhang Q (2014) Energy-Storage Properties and Electrocaloric Effects of Pb(1-3x/2)LaxZr0.85Ti0.15O3 Antiferroelectric Thick Films, Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces, 6 (14) 11633-11639.

    • Yañez Gonzalez A, Pilgrim CC, Sollazzo PY, Heyes AL, Feist JP, Nicholls JR & Beyrau F (2014) Temperature sensing inside thermal barrier coatings using phosphor thermometry. In: IET & ISA 60th International Instrumentation Symposium 2014, London, 24.6.2014 - 26.6.2014.

    • Sansom C, Comley P, Bhattacharyya D & Macerol N (2014) A comparison of polymer film and glass collectors for concentrating solar power, Energy Procedia, 49 209-219.

    • Mosquera AA, Endrino JL & Albella JM (2014) XANES observations of the inhibition and promotion of anatase and rutile phases in silver containing films, Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 29 (4) 736-742.

    • Brewster G, Edmonds IM & Gray S (2014) The effect of volatilisation of refractory metal oxides on the cyclic oxidation of Ni-base superalloys, Oxidation of Metals, 81 (3-4) 345-356.

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