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Centre for Doctoral Training in Ultra Precision Engineering



John Nicholls joined Cranfield Institute of Technology (now Cranfield University), as a Research Officer, in 1974. He was promoted to Senior Research Officer and Head of ‘High Temperature Materials’ in 1978; following his appointment, the group’s research activities expanded to encompass contaminant corrosion of materials for boilers, gas turbines and diesel engines; high temperature erosion, erosion-corrosion interactions; and the performance of coatings at high temperatures. These themes have been a fundamental aspect of Professor Nicholls research, over 35 years, where he has an international reputation for his studies in the design and manufacture of coating systems to combat high temperature corrosion, erosion and wear.

The research into coating technology, coating manufacture and its subsequent performance has expanded greatly since 1980, and is now one of the core theme of the Institute’s (SENTi) activities. Continued growth was acknowledged with his appointment as Principal Research Officer (1985), Senior Principal Research Officer (1989) and in 1991 to a personal chair, Professor of Coating Technology. Research interests include the design and manufacture of coating systems and surface treatments to combat high temperature oxidation, corrosion, erosion and other high temperature wear processes. In 1991 he was also appointed European Editor of ‘Materials at High Temperatures’, a peer reviewed specialist journal. Since his appointment to Professor of Coating Technology, his research group has continued to expand. Between 2001-2004, he established the ‘National High Temperature Surface Engineering Research Centre’ at Cranfield which he has directed since this date, an outwardly facing business unit within the School of Applied Sciences at Cranfield that can develop and manufacture coating systems from laboratory scale through to pilot plant demonstrator. In 2006, Professor Nicholls was appointed Head of the ‘Surface Science and Engineering Centre’ at Cranfield University and in 2012 to Head of the newly formed ‘Surface Engineering and Nanotechnology Institute (SENTi). SENTi now has 26 academic and research related staff, plus 52 post-graduate research students (MSc and PhD). Recent research includes: the manufacture of low thermal conductivity thermal barrier coatings (TBCs); research into self diagnostic TBCs; coating design for energy harvesting; functional nano-structured coatings; intermetallic diffusion barriers and the development of structured corrosion resistant coatings.

In 2009, Professor Nicholls was elected as Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, recognizing his World leading research in coating design , particularly low thermal conductivity thermal barrier coatings. Professor Nicholls has published 250 papers, contributed chapters to and edited several books and is joint holder of nine coating patents. He has given numerous keynote papers worldwide and is a contributor to the prestigious ‘Gordon Research Conference’, where he is regularly invited to speak. For 2009 he was Chairman of this conference on ‘High Temperature Corrosion’. Professor Nicholls is a member and immediate past chairman of the Surface Engineering Committee of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. He is a member of the Institute’s Surface Engineering Division Board and a member of the High Temperature Materials Committee. He is a past Vice President of the Institute of Corrosion and represents the UK on the European Federation of Corrosion working party on ‘High Temperature Corrosion’.  

Professor of Coatings Technology
Cranfield University
Professor  John   Nicholls
Not available for consultancy