Dr Biao Cai

Dr Biao Cai

School of Metallurgy and Materials
Associate Professor

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


Song, Z, Boller, E, Rack, A, Lee, PD & Cai, B 2023, 'Magnetic field-assisted solidification of W319 Al alloy qualified by high-speed synchrotron tomography', Journal of Alloys and Compounds, vol. 938, 168691. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jallcom.2022.168691

Tang, L, Jiang, F, Liu, H, Kabra, S & Cai, B 2022, 'In situ neutron diffraction reveals the effect of Cu micro-alloying on low-temperature tensile properties of TWIP steels', Materials Science and Engineering A, vol. 845, 143211. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msea.2022.143211

Tang, L, Jiang, FQ, Wróbel, JS, Liu, B, Kabra, S, Duan, RX, Luan, JH, Jiao, ZB, Attallah, M, Nguyen-Manh, D & Cai, B 2022, 'In situ neutron diffraction unravels deformation mechanisms of a strong and ductile FeCrNi medium entropy alloy', Journal of Materials Science & Technology, vol. 116, pp. 103-120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmst.2021.10.034

Sparks, T, Nguyen-Manh, D, Zheng, P, Wróbel, JS, Sobieraj, D, Gorley, M, Connolley, T, Reinhard, C, Wang, Y & Cai, B 2022, 'Mechanical characterisation of V-4Cr-4Ti alloy: tensile tests under high energy synchrotron diffraction', Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 569, 153911. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2022.153911

Tang, L, Magdysyuk, OV, Jiang, F, Wang, Y, Evans, AD, Kabra, S & Cai, B 2022, 'Mechanical performance and deformation mechanisms at cryogenic temperatures of 316L stainless steel processed by laser powder bed fusion: in situ neutron diffraction', Scripta Materialia, vol. 218, 114806. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scriptamat.2022.114806

Song, Z, Magdysyuk, O, Sparks, T, Chiu, Y-L & Cai, B 2022, 'Revealing growth mechanisms of faceted Al2Cu intermetallic compounds via high-speed Synchrotron X-ray tomography', Acta Materialia, vol. 231, 117903. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2022.117903

Song, Z, Magdysyuk, O, Tang, L, Sparks, T & Cai, B 2021, 'Growth Dynamics of Faceted Al13Fe4 intermetallic Revealed by High-speed Synchrotron X-ray Quantification', Journal of Alloys and Compounds, vol. 861, 158604. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jallcom.2021.158604

Duan, R, Li, S, Cai, B, Tao, Z, Zhu, W, Ren, F & Attallah, MM 2021, 'In situ alloying based laser powder bed fusion processing of β Ti–Mo alloy to fabricate functionally graded composites', Composites Part B: Engineering, vol. 222, 109059. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compositesb.2021.109059

Li, S, Cai, B, Duan, R, Tang, L, Song, Z, White, D, Magdysyuk, OV & Attallah, MM 2021, 'Synchrotron Characterisation of Ultra-Fine Grain TiB2/Al-Cu Composite Fabricated by Laser Powder Bed Fusion', Acta Metallurgica Sinica (English Letters). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40195-021-01317-y

Duan, R, Li, S, Cai, B, Zhu, W, Ren, F & Attallah, MM 2020, 'A high strength and low modulus metastable β Ti-12Mo-6Zr-2Fe alloy fabricated by laser powder bed fusion in-situ alloying', Additive Manufacturing. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addma.2020.101708

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, Kao, A, Boller, E, Magdysyuk, OV, Atwood, RC, Vo, NT, Pericleous, K & Lee, PD 2020, 'Revealing the mechanisms by which magneto-hydrodynamics disrupts solidification microstructures', Acta Materialia, vol. 196, pp. 200-209. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2020.06.041


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

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