School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering

Our internationally recognized researchers in the Surface Engineering and Physical Metallurgy Group conduct research in surface engineering of metallic materials, crystallography of phase transformations in solids and grain refinement of cast metals.  The task of surface engineering is to improve the surface durability of structural materials so that they can be used in corrosive, wearing and oxidization environments through surface modification and coating. The grain refinement research aims at development of new and more effective grain refiners and the associated master alloys for cast metals, including aluminium alloys, magnesium alloys, titanium alloys, steels and other metals, in order to improve the quality of metal products through grain refining approach.  The crystallographic study of phase transformations is to understand the transformation mechanism of phases in solids, and therefore to better control the properties of metals.  We are carrying out cutting edge and breakthrough research in these areas, which not only generates new scientific knowledge, but also provides technical solutions to industry.

Associated Research Centres

Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing (AMPAM)

ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals

Cast CRC

Research Publications

The current research publication list can be found here

Research Projects

The most recent project list can be found here.


A list of research facilities can be found here


Program Leader
Prof Mingxing Zhang
Please direct all enquiries to:

Senior Researcher
Honorary Professor Patrick M Kelly

Research Fellows
Dr Dong Qiu (ARC-ARF)
Dr Haiwei Chang
Dr Yuming Xiong

Visiting Scholar
Dr Chun Li

PhD Students
Mr Shoumou Miao
Mr Qiang Wang
Mr Feng Wang
Mr Zhilin Liu
Mr Yangxin Li
Mrs Leena Melag 
Mr Jianmin Li

Current Research

Surface Engineering of metals:

  • Development of new surface treatment techniques for metallic materials, including light alloys, steels and other non-ferrous alloys to increase both the wear and the corrosion resistance.

  • Development of effective coating process for light alloys and steels using cold spray technology.

  • Development of novel packed powder diffusion coating technologies for metals.

  • Development of novel heat-resistant and anti-wear coating techniques for titanium alloys for high temperature applications of this type of alloys.

  • Development of new surface treatment processes for magnesium alloys to solve the long standing problems of low wear and corrosion resistance associated with this metal.

  • Industrial applications of surface nanocrystallization of metallic materials.

  • Surface treatment of biomaterials to increase the bioactivity of implants.

Grain refinement of cast metals:

  • Theoretical study of the mechanism of grain refinement through addition of grain refiners in cast metals.

  • Development of new and effective grain refiners and the relevant master alloys for metal casting, including continuous casting and ingot casting.  Focuses are on magnesium alloys, titanium alloys, aluminium alloys, steels and other non-ferrous metals.

Crystallography of phase transformations:

  • Understanding of the crystallographic features of different types of phase transformations in solids and then to develop an unified crystallographic model that is capable of predicting and explaining all the crystallographic and morphological features of solid-solid phase transformations in metals, with the potential to be used in ceramics as well.

  • Application of the crystallographic model to grain refinement of cast metals and to development of new alloys.

  • Application of the crystallographic model to epitaxial growth.
    Application of the crystallographic model to thin film solar cells and therefore to develop new generation thin film solar cells with improved energy conversion efficiency.