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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)

    • Online Learning – Principles of Engineering Integration

      07 September 2015

      In partnership with BAE Systems, the course provides understanding of the basic principles of engineering integration issues applied within business.

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    • Corrosion Training Programme

      14 December - 18 December 2015

      A series of one-day specialist training courses, that can be linked to form a five-day short course, covering corrosion, its monitoring and prevention covering offshore, water and aeronautical sectors

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    • Materials Selection

      11 January - 15 January 2016

      This short course covers principles of materials selection, properties of metals and alloys and properties of polymers and ceramics.

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    • Surface Engineering and Coatings

      25 January - 29 January 2016

      To introduce the concepts of surface engineering and how surface engineering may be used to optimise a component’s performance.

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    • Extreme Surface Engineering and Coatings

      27 June - 29 June 2016

      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 Technology

      13 July - 15 July 2016

      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

  • Publications

    • Hussain T, Simms NJ, Nicholls JR & Oakey JE (2015) Fireside corrosion degradation of HVOF thermal sprayed FeCrAl coating at 700-800°C, Surface & Coatings Technology, 268 165-172.

    • Kovalev AI, Wainstein DL, Rashkovskiy AY, Gago R, Soldera F, Endrino JL & Fox-Rabinovich GS (2015) Interface-Induced Plasmon Nonhomogeneity in Nanostructured Metal-Dielectric Planar Metamaterial, Journal of Nanomaterials, 2015.

    • Chatterton J, Parsons D, Nicholls J, Longhurst P, Bernon M, Palmer A, Brennan F, Kolios A, Wilson I, Ishiyama E, Clements-Croome D, Elmualim A, Darby H, Yearley T & Davies G (2015) Carbon brainprint - An estimate of the intellectual contribution of research institutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 96 74-81.

    • Prasad RGSV, Phani AR, Rao KN, Kumar RR, Prasad S, Prabhakara G, Sheeja MS, Salins CP, Endrino JL & Raju DB (2015) Biocompatible and Antibacterial SnO2 Nanowire Films Synthesized by E-Beam Evaporation Method, Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology , 11 (6) 942-950.

    • Biaolin P, Qi Z, Xing L, Tieyu S, Huiqing F, Shanming K, Mao Y, Yu W, Wei L, Hanben N, Xierong Z & Haitao H (2015) Large Energy Storage Density and High Thermal Stability in a Highly Textured (111)-Oriented Pb0.8Ba0.2ZrO3 Relaxor Thin Film with the Coexistence of Antiferroelectric and Ferroelectric Phases, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 7 (24) 13512-13517.

    • Xing Z, Nicholls JR & Impey SA (2015) FEA simulation model in support of the mechanical reliability of automotive exhaust gas temperature sensors, Key Engineering Materials, 644 96-100.

    • Craig M, Ndamka NL, Wellman RG & Nicholls JR (2015) CMAS degradation of EB-PVD TBCs: The effect of basicity, Surface & Coatings Technology, 270 145-153.

    • Fox-Rabinovich G, Kovalev A, Veldhuis S, Yamamoto K, Endrino JL, Gershman IS, Rashkovskiy A, Aguirre MH & Wainstein DL (2015) Spatio-temporal behaviour of atomic-scale tribo-ceramic films in adaptive surface engineered nano-materials, Scientific Reports, 5.

    • Zhao Y, Hao X & Zhang Q (2015) A giant electrocaloric effect of a Pb0.97La0.02(Zr0.75Sn0.18Ti0.07)O3 antiferroelectric thick film at room temperature, Journal of Materials Chemistry C, 3 (8) 1694-1699.

    • 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.

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