Services for Business


With an increasing global population and a need to minimise environmental impact for future generations, the development of new materials is an essential building block for many sectors such as energy, transport and construction. Advanced materials offer cost-effective, lightweight, reliable, reusable, recyclable and sustainable solutions for the modern world.

At the University of Leicester we have not only scientific expertise in this area - drawn from physics, chemistry, geology, engineering and mathematics - but also the industrial engagement to transfer our world-leading research into technological innovations that help manufacturers flourish.

Our industrial research into materials focuses on:

Green chemistry

Introducing green chemistry into your industrial processes reduces or eliminates hazardous substances during the production and application of chemical-related processes. Using these techniques reduces waste from chemical processes, leading to a cleaner environment and more cost-effective use of raw materials.


The Green Chemistry Group at the University of Leicester is renowned for its work in ionic liquids. Ionic liquids have a number of benefits:

  • Electrically conductive
  • Extremely low vapour pressure
  • Low combustibility
  • Excellent thermal stability
  • A wide liquid range
  • Favourable solvating properties

They are suitable for the following applications:

  • Electroplating - Using a variety of metals such as chromium or aluminium, this has applications in electronics, optics, sensors, automotive and aerospace, enabling devices to use less power, produce less waste and have an improved surface finish.
  • Electropolishing - New techniques being developed at Leicester lead to a higher current efficiency, excellent surface finish and a non-corrosive finish.
  • Immersion coating - Currently being explored as an alternative to the conventional acid-based autocatalytic electroless coatings, this has real benefits for printed circuit board manufacturers as it prevents the degradation of exposed copper surfaces before the board is assembled.
  • Metal oxide processing - This uses ionic liquids to dissolve a range of metal oxides to enable selective extraction of a particular metal from waste materials.

Another way to incorporate green chemistry into industrial processes is through recycling waste products, such as our project that turned egg shells into food packaging and our project that investigated a more environmentally-friendly alternative to MDF.

Our lead academics in these areas are Professor Andy Abbott and Professor Karl Ryder.

Facilities for industry

An ionic liquids demonstrator is available, allowing prospective clients to bring along their own items or materials to see how ionic liquids could be incorporated into their industrial processes. Using ionic liquids instead of hazardous chemicals can reduce health and safety risks while boosting your company's environmental credentials.

Training for industry

A whole training programme for industry is in place, covering a range of subjects including:

  • Biocatalysis and biotransformations
  • Solid phase synthesis
  • Molecular imprinted polymers
  • Protein engineering
  • Target synthesis
  • Metal finishing
  • Molecular properties

Visit our training for industry webpage for further details.


Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at a molecular or atomic scale. Nanotechnology offers significant improvements to many industrial sectors such as information technology, energy, environmental science, medicine, homeland security, food safety, and transportation.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Engineering have the expertise and facilities to continually enhance nanotechnology techniques and use them to meet the needs of industrial partners.

Expertise in physics and astronomy

Leicester's Condensed Matter Physics group studies the behaviour of complex materials at the nano-scale.

We are currently investigating novel devices in the fields of molecular and opto-electronics, quantum information theory and magnetic sensing. The group has strong partnerships with companies involved in the nano-fabrication of electronic devices, high-density magnetic recording and targeted medical therapeutics.

Our specific areas of expertise are:

  • Cluster assembled materials - novel magnetic materials assembled from nanoclusters
  • Quantum theory of semiconductor nanostructures - calculation of the electronic properties of nanostructures
  • Soft condensed matter - systems at the interface of physics and biology

Expertise in engineering

The Department of Engineering is involved in the fabrication of aluminium-based nanocomposites for the automotive and aerospace industries with a novel processing technique - the ultrasonic dispersion of nanoparticles. We are also investigating their mechanical properties.

Mechanics of materials

Our work in developing lightweight structures, smart coatings and insulation improves the performance and quality of materials available to industry. Leading this research is a group of highly-respected researchers using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities - our world-renowned Mechanics of Materials Research Group.


The Mechanics of Materials Research Group carries out cutting-edge research by integrating the latest experimental and computational technologies. Combining expertise in experimental, analytical and modelling techniques has given the group a strong international reputation in:

  • Understanding evolution of microstructures and defect formation in casting, powder processing and semi-solid processing
  • Coatings technology, specifically hardening surfaces and stress testing
  • Supporting manufacturing with a particular focus on the transport sector
  • Evolution of microstructure in high temperature materials for power generation
  • Computational methods for multi-scale modelling to predict materials' capabilities.
  • Surface engineering, surface contact and tribology
  • Forensic engineering
  • Sintering science and technology
  • Tissue engineering and orthopaedic fixations by modelling degradation of bioresorbable devices


The state-of-the-art £1.5 million Advanced Microscopy Centre, directed by Professor Sarah Gabbott, provides specialist services to industry, which includes loaning microscopes with technical support, in-depth analysis, imaging and micro-analysis of components as well as consultancy and collaborative research.

This enables companies with limited facilities to access the latest cutting-edge equipment, helping them to develop and grow.

Another leading Leicester facility is the Materials Technology Integration Centre (MaTIC), which includes:

  • Raman spectroscope 
  • X-ray tomograph
  • Sharpness equipment

Our computational work benefits from ALICE - a new High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster, purchased through a £2 million award.

Services to industry

The group offers a variety of electronics engineering services to industry, including:

  • Printed circuit board design, assembly and inspection
  • Cable harness manufacture
  • CnC machining
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Additive manufacturing

The Advanced Microscopy Centre offers the following services:

  • Microscope session with full technical support
  • In-depth analysis with expert support
  • Images and/or micro-analysis of components
  • Consultancy
  • Expert witness service

Testing of materials

We offer a range of services for testing the efficiency, durability, strengths and performance of materials.


Our world-leading academics use our state-of-the-art facilities to test new and old materials. We offer manufacturing companies research, support and consultancy services in:

  • Laser 3D vibrometry and structural resonance analysis
  • Modelling to predict materials' characteristics
  • Aerodynamics/aerodynamic noise 
  • Emission testing
  • In-situ oil analysis
  • Finite element modelling methods for impact and penetration failure of materials and structures 
  • Casting defects and their avoidance - experimental, analytical and modelling
  • Modelling of casting and welding processes 
  • Multifunctional composite materials and sandwich structures

Analytical services

We are proud to offer a wealth of analytical services including mineral, chemical, elemental, archaeological, thermal and powder analysis as well as mechanical and physical properties or particle sizing.

Our equipment and methodologies include:

  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Field emission gun scanning electron microscopy
  • Electron probe microanalysis
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy
  • Gas chromatography mass spectroscopy
  • Mass spectrometry

Materials for energy

The challenges in the area of materials for energy range from generation to cost-effectiveness via conservation, transmission, storage, carbon emissions, durability, reusability and recyclability.

Our Mechanics of Materials Research Group and Condensed Matter Physics Research Group research the industrial applications of novel materials in the fields of electronics, photovoltaics and energy.

Example of business collaborations

Successful business collaborations have led to the development of:

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