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Rolls-Royce UTC

Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy

Studying at Cambridge


James Nygaard

James Nygaard

PhD Student

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 334336

Research Interests

Secondary hardened steels are used in the manufacture of bearings for aircraft gas-turbine engines; here, contact stresses approach 2GPa and can lead to fatigue failure.

The rolling elements are a high-carbon M50 tool steel which in the heat-treated condition has a hardness of 850 HV (64 HRC). The raceways are low-carbon, carburised M50NiL steel with added Ni for improved fracture toughness to cope with tensile stresses arising from fitting and centrifugal effects.

After tens of millions of fatigue cycles, rolling contact fatigue failures can initiate at imperfections on the meeting surfaces and also beneath the point of contact where the shear stresses are maximum. Here in the subsurface cracks nucleate at stress raising defects; traditionally at interfaces between non-metallic inclusions and the matrix. To compensate, aeroengine bearing steels are produced under vacuum for high purity and low oxygen content (< 5 ppm). Modern bearing failures are more concerned with surface tribology where failures due to lubrication contamination have become dominant.

This PhD research is carried out in collaboration with Rolls-Royce and SKF Group, and funded by the EPSRC and Rolls-Royce.


  • TEM
  • characterisation
  • fatigue
  • microstructure
  • deformation twinning
  • steels

Key Publications

Bearing steel microstructures after aircraft gas turbine engine service

J.R. Nygaard, M. Rawson, P. Danson and H.K.D.H Bhadeshia

Materials Science and Technology 30 (2014), 1911-1918


Mechanical twinning in aircraft engine bearing steel

J.R. Nygaard, R.H. Vegter, M. Rawson, P. Danson and H.K.D.H Bhadeshia

ASTM Standard Technical Proceedings 1580 (2015)

RSS Feed Latest news

Dr. Lewis Owen appointed to a Junior Research Fellowship at Gonville & Caius College Cambridge

Jan 24, 2018

Dr. Lewis Owen has been appointed to a Junior Research Fellowship commencing in October 2018 at Gonville & Caius College Cambridge. We look forward to many more years of high quality research into the wonderful world of short range order.

Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology Visit

Jan 17, 2018

We had a fantastic time today hosting the uber-talented students from the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology. We believe sharing some of our research and encouraging as many people as possible to consider STEM careers is a key responsibility for any scientist/engineer.

PhD studentships now available within the group

Jan 09, 2018

Navigate onto our vacancies page to find out more!

Strategic Partnership with Rolls-Royce shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award 2017

Oct 03, 2017

The Rolls-Royce partnership with the universities of Cambridge, Swansea and Birmingham has been shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award 2017. Find out more here:

New high temperature thermocouple

Nov 14, 2016

Dr. Michele Scervini has developed a new thermocouple for high-temperature applications