School of Engineering

Advanced Polymer & Composites Research Group


Members of the Advanced Polymer and Composites (APC) Research Group undertake a variety of research and development activities including analysis, characterisation, formulation, manufacturing, design, modelling, rapid prototyping, testing, repair, structural integrity evaluation, applications and knowledge transfer of thermoplastics, thermosets, coatings, elastomers, adhesives, polymer matrix composites, eco-composites and nanocomposites.

The APC Research Group has well-equipped laboratories with range of facilities for R&D in advanced polymer and composite materials:

  • Nano-testing (indentation, scratching and impact)
  • Materials selection and composites complements design and analysis software
  • Thermal characterisation (MDSC, DSC, TGA, TMA, DMA, Laser flash and hot-wire thermal conductivities) for materials characterisation and forensic analysis
  • Echanical testing (tensile, compression and flexural test at low and elevated temperatures, pendulum and falling weight)
  • Durability testing (thermal, chemical, moisture, UV and hygrothermal degradation test)
  • Structural integrity evaluation (SEM, TEM, Infrared Imaging, C-scan, ARAMIS and CT-scan)
  • Manufacturing (vacuum bagging, compression moulding)

The group has a track record of attracting funding from the European Union, DTI, industries and regional government. The projects include characterisation and testing of different adhesive systems for joining fixings and fixtures in the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier, development of water and moisture repellent coating for building materials, development and characterisation of natural fibre reinforced eco-composites, development and evaluation of novel nano gel coat systems with improved anti-blistering and study on electronically and thermally conductive polymer composites for fuel cell bipolar plates.

The group has also successfully provided services and consultancies to companies including BVT, Thales, Safeguard, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Pall Europe, TWI, PERA, Univar Europe, Halyard, LaFarge, Materials Technology Ltd, Gurit, Xyratex.


Dr Hom Dhakal, Coordinator (Sustainable composites, biocomposites and hybrid composites development, testing and characterisation)

Dr Jovana Radulovic (Interfacial Phenomena: wetting, spreading, surfaces, hydrophobicity, surfactants, nanofluids)

Dr Jurgita Zekonyte (Nanomechanics and nanotribology of modified polymer surfaces, self-adapting coatings and 2D structures, molecular interactions)

Dr Zhongyi Zhang (characterisation, analysis, identification, selection, formulation, manufacturing, rapid prototyping, testing, structural integrity evaluation, and applications of polymers and composites)

Most recent peer reviewed journal publications

  1. Ojo, S.O. Ismail, S.O., Paggi, M., Dhakal, H.N. (2017). A new analytical critical thrust force model for delamination analysis of laminated composites during drilling operation. Composites Part B: Engineering; 124:207-214.
  2. Almansour, F. A., Dhakal, H. N., Zhang, Z.Y. (2017). Effect of water absorption on Mode I interlaminar fracture toughness of flax/basalt reinforced vinyl ester hybrid composites. Composite Structures; 168:813-825.
  3. Sajith, S. Arumugam, V., Dhakal, H.N. (2017). Comparison on mechanical properties of lignocellulosic flour epoxy composites prepared by using coconut shell, rice husk and teakwood as fillers. Polymer Testing; 58:60-69.
  4. Kenomore, M., Hassan, M., Dhakal, H.N., Shah, A. (2017). Total organic carbon evaluation on the Bowland Shale Formation in the Upper Bowland of the Widmerpool Gulf. International Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 150:137-145.
  5. Ismail, S.O., Ojo, S. O., Dhakal, H. N. (2017). Thermo-mechanical modelling of FRP cross-ply laminates drilling: delamination damage analysis. Composite Part B; 108:45-52
  6. Suresh Kumar C., Arumugam, V., Sengottuvelusamy, R., Srinivasan, S., Dhakal, H.N. (2017). Failure strength prediction of glass/epoxy composite laminates from acoustic emission parameters using artificial neural network. Journal of Applied Acoustic; 115:32-41.
  7. Zekonyte, J., Sakai, K., Nicoll, J. A. R., Weller, R. O. & Carare, R. O. (2016). Quantification of molecular interactions between apoE, Amyloid-beta (Aβ) and laminin: relevance to accumulation of Aβ in Alzheimer’s disease; Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease 1862:1047-1053.
  8. Bavykin, D., Porras, R., Walsh, F. C. & Wood, R. J. (2016). Titanate nanotubes for reinforcement of a poly(ethylene oxide)/chitosan polymer matrix; Nanotechnology. 27, 19, 10 p., 195706.