Dr Nicola Symonds

Unit Head


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Find out about our latest capabilities and activities. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn for more updates.

Connect with us on LinkedIn

NMR spectroscopy expertise

At nC2 everything we do is powered by expertise – and we’ve got a huge pool of specialist knowledge to draw from at the University of Southampton. Take Dr Neil Wells, who manages the University’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy Facility and is a member of our network of experts.

We can bring Neil on board when our clients are seeking to understand the composition, 3D structure and other key structural characteristics of a chemical sample at a molecular level – an invaluable technique for quality control and product development. Find out more about Neil.

Chilling in the lab!

Our Head of Operations, Dr Ilaria Corni, has been in the laboratory testing whether a client’s sensor would work at cryogenic temperatures. She put the sensors through their paces, thermal cycling them between room temperature and minus 190 C using liquid nitrogen.

And it was good news for the client – all the sensors survived and showed great potential for use in this temperature range. We look forward to seeing them on the market.

Exploring the beauty within brass

Thrilled to share this captivating microstructure image of brass extracted from a valve. The intricate details were revealed through a meticulous process of cross-sectioning, polishing, and etching, offering a glimpse into the hidden world within the metal. It’s amazing how a simple valve holds such mesmerizing complexity beneath the surface.

Kudos to our skilled professional technician Sam Hambrook who brings these microstructural wonders to light!

Chromatography and mass spectrometry expertise

We help our clients find solutions by tapping into a wealth of specialist expertise across the University of Southampton. For projects involving chemical analysis, we can call on Dr Julie Herniman and Professor John Langley who are leading experts in chromatography and mass spectrometry.

They use state-of-the-art instrumentation to help companies understand chemical profiles, whether for problem solving, quality control or monitoring. Get in touch to find out how our network of expertise could help you.

Corrosion up close

Who said corrosion can’t be beautiful? Usually we need to use our microscopes to view corrosion within our clients’ metal components, but not in this case. Here you can see a cross-section through a zinc-plated steel fastener from the historic ship HMS Victory. It was installed about 25 years ago and has been removed as part of the current conservation project.

We’re helping the National Museum of the Royal Navy to take an evidence-based approach to materials selection to ensure that the rain is kept out of HMS Victory’s timbers in future, so they are unlikely to ever see rusty fasteners like this again. Read more about our work supporting the conservation of HMS Victory and our corrosion testing capabilities.

Merry Christmas from nC²!
We put our teamwork and problem-solving skills to the test at a team building event at ClueCapers escape room, completing the mission with plenty of time to spare, in 54 minutes out of 75. We look forward to continuing our real-world engineering detective work in 2024 – in the meantime, a very merry Christmas from all at the nC2 team! 🎄🎅 🎁 🎉
Introducing Dr Meisam Jalalvand

Meet Dr Meisam Jalalvand, a recent addition to our network of experts who specialises in the characterisation and analysis of fibre-reinforced composite materials. If your company is seeking to understand how these complex materials perform in service, predict potential failure mechanisms, or gather robust data for design modelling, we can call on Meisam to help. Find out more about Meisam.

On-site problem solving

Professor Nicola Symonds and Dr Benjamin Cunningham recently went on a client site visit, with a chance to see a northern icon en route! They visited a customer’s assembly plant, where they applied their detective and engineering skills on the factory floor to get a better understanding of an in-service failure issue. They also agreed next steps which include shipping parts to our lab for further failure investigation analysis. It’s a great example of our flexible, tailored problem-solving approach.

Networking with local businesses

Rachel Triggs and Dr JB Bello staffed our stand at last week’s Southampton Business Expo at the Hilton Aegas Bowl.

It was great to meet representatives of so many different industries – we look forward to collaborating with some of you in the future.

Meet Dr Lindsay-Marie Armstrong

Introducing Dr Lindsay-Marie Armstrong, a specialist in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and a recent addition to our network of experts. Lindsay’s specialist knowledge is invaluable for any industry challenge where fluid dynamics are at play, from understanding the behaviour of liquid moving through a pipe to modelling complex chemical processes. It’s a cost-effective way to test different parameters for problem solving, product development, prototype testing or design optimisation. Read Lindsay’s profile to find out more about her expertise.

Sharing our passion for STEM

Sam Hambrook, Dr JB Bello and Dr Spencer Court represented nC² at Wyvern College’s careers fair, where they shared their passion for science and engineering with year 10 and 11 students who are thinking about A level choices. We’re always keen to let young people know about the range of exciting career options in STEM – hopefully we’ve inspired some scientists and engineers of the future.

Spotlight on… corrosion and environmental testing

If you need to find out how materials, paints or coatings perform when they are exposed to the elements or to fluid flows, Dr Spencer Court is your man. He is an expert in corrosion and environmental testing, and can help you gain the insights you need to select the right coating or material for your product. Find out more about our corrosion/electrochemical and paint/coatings testing, or contact Spencer for a free initial consultation.

The Engineering Design Manufacturing Centre

We’d like to introduce the Engineering Design Manufacturing Centre here at the University of Southampton. Their expertise and state-of-the-art equipment ensure that our clients receive a top-notch service at every stage of their projects. Watch the video for highlights.

Whether it’s handling delicate samples with utmost precision or crafting bespoke parts to exact specifications, our technicians go above and beyond to deliver excellence. We take pride in our commitment to understanding and meeting our clients’ unique project and sample requirements, providing not just services, but true partnerships in success.

Celebrating success

Makes a change from lab coats! The nC² team had a fabulous time at the University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor’s Awards event. We were proud to have been nominated in the Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise category, which recognises activities that result in societal, economic and environmental impact. It was great to celebrate with colleagues from across the University and hear about the innovative, inspiring work that’s happening here.

Connect with a subject matter expert

Do you need some scientific expertise, but don’t have an in-house specialist? Our subject matter experts can bridge the knowledge gaps in your company in a cost-effective way. Visit our new page to find out how we can tailor a package to suit you, whether you need a helpline for ad hoc scientific queries, in-depth technical support throughout a project’s lifecycle, or something in between.

Improving maritime safety

We are proud to have supported the International Maritime Pilots’ Association with an important piece of work to improve maritime safety. Through rigorous mechanical testing, we’ve provided an evidence base on the safe use of pilot ladders which we hope will influence practice and standards around the world and save lives. Read the case study to find out more.

Dr Benjamin Cameron joins our network of experts

As a university-based consultancy we are able to draw on a wealth of expertise to support our clients’ projects. A recent addition to our network is Dr Benjamin Cameron, who specialises in digital image correlation (DIC). This advanced technique gives in-depth insight into mechanical strain and deformation, to inform product development or generate rich datasets for machine learning. Find out more about Benjamin’s expertise.

nC² nominated for Vice-Chancellor’s Award

We are thrilled to be among the finalists for a University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor’s Award in the Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise category, which recognises activities that result in societal, economic and environmental impact. We look forward to celebrating our achievements with the other finalists at a special event in October, when the winners will be announced.