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Functional Surface Engineering & Design (FUSED)

Mission Statement

To become a global hub for research, development and learning in the prediction and production of surfaces for societal betterment.

Research Scope

Under the umbrella of functional surface engineering & design, we bring together surface topology, materials and measurement to understand and optimize their functionality within their intended environment. We achieve this for a wide range of products and applications to enable the production of new materials and surfaces.


  • Surfaces are, by their very nature, functional and this functionality can be wide ranging.
  • The coupling of material properties, environment and surface finish or topology provides a system which can be designed/optimised.
  • Understanding the metrology behind the topology determines and enables surface processing. 


  • The interplay between materials, topology & metrology govern developments for a wide a range of functionalities, underpins our research and feeds our education platform
    • By working closely with our research partners, we are able to realise product advances through process step changes
  • We can predict product performance, but we need a greater capability in production and testing
    • Utilising emerging technologies, such as laser surface processing/additive manufacturing, allows a wide range of products/surfaces to be achieved
  • Embedding the knowledge created through our research in enhanced modelling techniques for integration in Industrial processes (Industry 4.0/Digital Twins)
    • Permitting the development of new predictive tools


Here are some examples of recent projects:

Collaborative robotics

Coupling polymeric materials  and biomimetic designs has enabled more accurate placement of small, sensitive parts during manufacturing.

Surfaces for Touch perception

Advanced contact models and in-house designed testing facilities have been realized to tailor polymer products which can influence a user’s interaction with – and perception of –  a product.


Laser surface texturing has been used to design a range of anti-bacterial and bactericidal surfaces in medical grade Cobalt Chrome for the first time:

Software development

A surface visualization tool has been designed for the design of surfaces and their influence on paint appearance for the automotive industry.


For more information, please contact Prof. Emile van der Heide or Dr. David Matthews