Dr Biao Cai

Dr Biao Cai

School of Metallurgy and Materials
Lecturer in Metallurgy and Materials

Contact details

School of Metallurgy and Materials
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Biao Cai joined the University of Birmingham in October 2017 as a Lecturer of Metallurgy and Materials.

His role is to co-ordinate the University’s activities with Diamond Light Source (UK’s synchrotron X-ray) to facilitate the Diamond Birmingham Collaboration.

His current research focuses on developing and utilising in situ synchrotron, and neutron methods, to gain new understanding in micro-mechanics and physical metallurgy - feeding back into the development of new materials and manufacturing techniques.


PhD in Materials, University of Manchester.


Biao obtained a BSc and MSc in Materials from Central South University in China in 2009 and 2011, respectively. He went on to study for a PhD in Materials at the University of Manchester, and was awarded the degree in 2015. After that, he worked for two years as a post-doc at the University of Manchester on various projects ranging from alloy solidification to magma flow mainly, using state-of-the-art high speed synchrotron X-ray tomography. He was based at the Research Complex at Harwell, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire during his PhD and post-doc.

He became a Lecturer in the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham in October 2017. His main role is to co-ordinate the Diamond-Birmingham Collaboration, which is a long-term collaboration established between the University of Birmingham and Diamond Light Source (UK’s synchrotron X-ray source).


At the University of Birmingham, Biao’s main interest is in utilising synchrotron, and neutron based characterisation methods (tomographic imaging and diffraction), combining ‘traditional’ mechanistic and metallurgic approaches, to accelerate materials development, which includes:

-  4D imaging (high speed X-ray tomography) of the liquid flow and solidification processes influenced by magneto-hydrodynamic, gaining improved understanding of solidification under forced convection, which leads us to develop new methods utilizing magnetic fields to liquid metal processing

-  In situ mapping of microstructural evolution of deforming metallic alloys using X-ray/neutron diffraction and tomography, gaining improved understanding of micro-mechanics, leading us to design new alloys for extreme environments


Recent publications


Tang, L, Cai, B & Attallah, M 2020, 'Deformation mechanisms of FeCoCrNiMo0.2 high entropy alloy at 77 and 15 K', Scripta Materialia, vol. 178, pp. 166-170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scriptamat.2019.11.026

Nelson, T, Cai, B, Warnken, N, Lee, PD, Boller, E, Magdysyuk, OV & Green, N 2020, 'Gravity effect on thermal-solutal convection during solidification revealed by four-dimensional synchrotron imaging with compositional mapping', Scripta Materialia, vol. 180, pp. 29-33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scriptamat.2019.12.026

Østergaard, MB, Zhang, M, Shen, X, Petersen, RR, König, J, Lee, PD, Yue, Y & Cai, B 2020, 'High-speed synchrotron X-ray imaging of glass foaming and thermal conductivity simulation', Acta Materialia, vol. 189, pp. 85-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2020.02.060

Cai, B 2020, 'Revealing the mechanisms by which magneto-hydrodynamics disrupts solidification microstructures', Acta Materialia.

Wang, Y, Clark, SJ, Cai, B, Venero, DA, Yan, K, Gorley, MJ, Surrey, E, McCartney, D, Sridhar, SS & Lee, PD 2020, 'Small-angle neutron scattering reveals the effect of Mo on interphase nano-precipitation in Ti-Mo micro-alloyed steels', Scripta Materialia, vol. 174, pp. 24-28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scriptamat.2019.08.016

Xu, S, Du, M, Li, J, Yan, K, Cai, B, He, Q, Fang, Q, Magdysyuk, O, Liu, B, Yang, Y & Liu, Y 2019, 'Bio-mimic Ti-Ta composite with hierarchical “brick-and-mortar” microstructure', Materialia, vol. 8, 100463. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mtla.2019.100463

Bhagavath, S, Cai, B, Atwood, RC, Li, M, Ghaffari, B & Karagadde, S 2019, 'Combined deformation and solidification-driven porosity formation in aluminum alloys', Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A, pp. 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11661-019-05378-8

Wang, X, Huang, Z, Cai, B, Zhou, N, Magdysyuk, O, Gao, Y, Srivatsa, S, Tan, L & Jiang, L 2019, 'Formation mechanism of abnormally large grains in a polycrystalline nickel-based superalloy during heat treatment processing', Acta Materialia, vol. 168, pp. 287-298. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2019.02.012

Nommeots-nomm, A, Ligorio, C, Bodey, AJ, Cai, B, Jones, JR, Lee, PD & Poologasundarampillai, G 2019, 'Four-dimensional imaging and quantification of viscous flow sintering within a 3D printed bioactive glass scaffold using synchrotron X-ray tomography', Materials Today Advances, vol. 2, 100011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mtadv.2019.100011

Cai, B, Kao, A, Lee, PD, Boller, E, Basevi, H, Phillion, AB, Leonardis, A & Pericleous, K 2019, 'Growth of β intermetallic in an Al-Cu-Si alloy during directional solidification via machine learned 4D quantification', Scripta Materialia, vol. 165, pp. 29-33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scriptamat.2019.02.007

Cai, B 2019, 'High-energy, high-resolution, fly-scan X-ray phase tomography', Scientific Reports, vol. 9, no. 1, 8913, pp. 8913. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45561-w

Arzilli, F, La Spina, G, Burton, MR, Polacci, M, Le Gall, N, Hartley, ME, Di Genova, D, Cai, B, Vo, NT, Bamber, EC, Nonni, S, Atwood, R, Llewellin, EW, Brooker, RA, Mader, HM & Lee, PD 2019, 'Magma fragmentation in highly explosive basaltic eruptions induced by rapid crystallization', Nature Geoscience. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0468-6

Wang, Y, Liu, B, Yan, K, Wang, M, Kabra, S, Chiu, YL, Dye, D, Lee, PD, Liu, Y & Cai, B 2018, 'Corrigendum to ‘Probing deformation mechanisms of a FeCoCrNi high-entropy alloy at 293 and 77 K using in situ neutron diffraction’ [Acta Mater. 154C (2018) 79–89]', Acta Materialia. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2018.10.010


Østergaard, MB, Cai, B, Petersen, RR, König, J, Lee, PD & Yue, Y 2019, 'Impact of pore structure on the thermal conductivity of glass foams', Materials Letters, vol. 250, pp. 72-74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matlet.2019.04.106


Cai, B, Aluminium Purification, Patent No. WO2020/012199.

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