Mechanical Engineering

Prof Peter Lee

Prof Peter Lee

Professor of Materials Science

Dept of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st May 2018

Research summary

Peter's group is based at three locations UCL, the Research Complex at Harwell, and ESRF. His research focusses on the computational simulation and x-ray imaging of materials at a microstructural level. He was one of the pioneers of multi-scale and through process modelling (now termed Integrated Computational Materials Engineering or ICME), working at Alcan on the prediction of defects in light alloy components in the late 1980’s for companies such as Ford, BMW and Toyota. He is the primary author of the open-source software, uMatIC, which simulates three phase flow to predict solidification microstructures. The code was developed in part as a component of Ford’s Atoms to Engine Programme, one of the early examples of how ICME can help impact on both cost reduction and more fuel-efficient transport. 


Peter is also an avid experimentalist, developing nano-precision rigs that simulate the processing of materials on a synchrotron beamline, enabling us to see inside materials in 3D as they change in time (termed 4D imaging). His work is revealing how microstructures evolve in aerospace and automotive materials, as well as biological systems. His results and open-source codes have been exploited internationally by aerospace, automotive, energy and biomedical companies to solve important engineering challenges – from developing additive manufactured human joint replacements to light weight automotive components. 

His group at the Research Complex at Harwell frequently acts as a hub for other academics and industrialists to perform feasibility studies at Harwell Campus to initiate new academic and industrial studies using the large facilities based there (e.g. Diamond Light Source, ISIS Neutron Source, the Central Laser Facilities, etc.).


He currently over a dozen active projects, with two core focuses:

1. Seeing into the heart of additive manufacturing using synchrotron x-ray imaging and diffraction coupled to optical, IR and other modalities. 

2. Collaborating with ESRF to develop Hierarchical Phase-Contrast Tomography (HiP-CT), a multi-scale x-ray tomography technique that can resolve structures at the micron level within whole organs.  


Peter is Professor of Materials Science and Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He has worked on microstructural characterisation and modelling for over 30 years in both Industry (at Alcan International, 1988-93) and in academia (at Imperial College  1994-2011, Manchester 2011-18 and UCL 2018-current). He has an undergraduate degree in Engineering Science, MSc (University of Toronto), and a D.Phil in Materials Science (Oxford). His research has produced over 350 publications and he has led a number of large projects funded by the UK Research Councils, Industry and the European UnionThis research has been recognised by more than 20 major awards, including the Grunfeld Medal and Prize, a Royal Society Paul Instrument Fund Award, and numerous best paper awards. In 2013, the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education was awarded to Manchester for the work of the facility Lee co-directed, on ‘New Techniques in X-Ray Imaging of Materials Critical for Power, Transport and Other Key Industries’.

Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and IOM3 and the ICME. He is a Chartered Engineer and Scientist.