Friday, 29 October 2021 12:00


Professor Steve Eichhorn

Bristol Composites Institute & Department of Aerospace Engineering

University of Bristol


This talk will focus on work done by Professor Eichhorn and his research group over the years to understand the physical properties of cellulose. Starting from developing techniques to follow the molecular deformation of cellulose fibres using Raman spectroscopy, it will be shown how this technique can yield useful information about composite materials, and how this can be extended to nanocellulose. This work was then extended to cellulose nanomaterials, including cellulose nanocrystals. It will be shown how the technique can be used to both estimate the mechanical stiffness of highly crystalline cellulose, but also map the distribution of these materials inside thermoplastic composites. Later work on cellulose showed how it can be spun into continuous fibres, and highly crystalline fibrils from waste. This has led the group to think more about how cellulose materials might also be formed in the plant cell wall and assembled into higher order structures. Finally, wood – nature’s material – and how unique combinations of nanostructure and processing can yield high performance materials will be discussed. This latter work goes beyond the current paradigm of both engineering and natural materials, offering true prospects for sustainable materials.


Professor Steve Eichhorn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Leeds in 1993. He then went on to do a master’s degree and PhD (1995-1998) at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in the Paper Science Department. Following that he carried out postdoctoral research under the supervision of Professor Bob Young FRS in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (1999-2002). He was hired as a new lecturer in 2002 in the Materials Science Department, which then became the School of Materials in 2004 when UMIST merged with the Victoria University of Manchester. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer and Reader and then went to become Chair of Materials Science at the University of Exeter in 2011. At Exeter he built an activity around sustainable materials research, and also took on leadership roles as a co-Director of an EPSRC funded doctoral training centre and he was the Head of Engineering (from 2014-2017). In September 2017 he moved to the University of Bristol and into the newly formed Bristol Composites Institute and was interim Head of School (for the CAME School of Engineering) in 2020. He has been awarded the Rosenhain Medal and Prize in 2012 from the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) for his contributions to Materials Science, the Hayashi Jisuke prize from the Japanese Cellulose Society (in 2017), the Swinburne Medal and Prize (IOM3) in 2020 and was the Chair of the ACS’s Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.


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