Sandy Knowles graduated with a MEng in Materials Science from the University of Oxford in 2011. His master’s research project was on ‘Aluminium matrix composites with nano-ceramic particle additions’ with Prof. M. Galano linked with Materion Aerospace Metal Composites and ALPOCO, developing new high temperature and high wear resistant aluminium metal-matrix-composites.
Sandy then went on to complete a PhD at the University of Cambridge 2011-2015, on ‘Novel refractory metal alloys for ultra-high temperature applications’ with Dr. H. Stone, supported through the EPSRC and Rolls-Royce plc Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). Following this, 2015-16 he was a postdoc at Imperial College London, on the ‘Designing of Alloys for Resource Efficiency (DARE)’ grant working on ‘High strength titanium alloys’ with Prof. D. Dye.
Sandy was then awarded an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship 2016-17 to develop his “bcc superalloys” for aerospace applications. From 2017-19 he held a EUROfusion Researcher Grant to investigate new nanostructured bcc tungsten superalloys for fusion first wall applications.
Most recently Sandy has been awarded both a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow and a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow to further develop his bcc superalloys concept toward commercialisation. Titanium, steel and tungsten superalloys are sought to Engineering Resilience to the Extreme Environments of nuclear fusion, generation IV fission and gas turbines. The novel nano-structured alloys being developed target higher temperature capability and irradiation tolerance, which are needed to enable improvements in performance and efficiency. The programme has close industrial partnerships with UKAEA/CCFE, NNL, TIMET and Rolls Royce and international exchanges with ANSTO Sydney, DECHEMA Frankfurt, Max Planck Düsseldorf and ETH Zurich.
Sandy joined the School of Metallurgy & Materials at the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer in Nuclear Materials & EUROfusion Researcher Grant Fellow in 2018 before being awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship (2019-24) and a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (2020-24/27), he was promoted to Associate Professor in 2021.