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It is the responsibility of David Rugg, a Materials Engineer at Rolls-Royce, to make the materials used in an aero engine stronger and lighter so the engines are more efficient and environmentally friendly. Rolls-Royce works with metallurgists from the University of Oxford who are using X-rays from the world's biggest microscope, the Oxford synchrotron, to probe metal components under stress and see how they deform. This allows them to modify the components to make them lighter and stronger. Includes a description of how the synchrotron generates X-rays.
First broadcast:
11 June 2009

Classroom Ideas

Could be used to illustrate the role of materials engineering in the development of new products. The class could discuss how an improved understanding of materials can lead to new products. This might be, for example, through the development of materials with enhanced properties or by redesigning existing products so that they are more effective or efficient. They could analyse an existing product, such as a classroom stool, and identify how its design could be changed by using materials with superior properties. Students could also test a range of different materials and compare their properties, recommending which is the most suitable for a given application.