The Silver Medal is a national award in recognition of an exceptionally meritorious contribution to the science and technology of tribology.
Professor Daniele Dini was awarded a master degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Politecnico di Bari (Italy) in 2000. During his degree he started is adventure as a tribologist by writing a master thesis on contact mechanics and its applications to fretting. Daniele subsequently joined the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Solid Mechanics at the University of Oxford, where he conducted his doctoral studies on the development of experimental and modelling tools to understand root causes and predict the initiation and evolution of fretting damage in aerospace applications. He was awarded his PhD in 2004 and received the Tribology Bronze Medal the same year for his early career achievements and contribution to the field of fretting fatigue.
Daniele joined the Tribology Group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College as a Lecturer in 2006, where he established a team to perform advanced modelling research. Daniele has considerable experience of teaching solid mechanics, materials, tribology, mechanical transmissions, advanced computational methods for engineers, and other subjects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. His passion for teaching was rewarded with the Imperial College Faculty of Engineering Teaching Excellence in Engineering Education award in 2014. He was promoted to Professor in 2016 and has held the post of Director of Research in the Department since then.
Professor Dini is Head of the Tribology Group at Imperial College, one of the largest in the world. Daniele has been the recipient of an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Established Career Fellowship from 2016 to 2021 to develop a multi-disciplinary platform for modelling in tribology.
He is currently the Shell/RAEng Research Chair in Complex Engineering Interfaces (since March 2022) and is the Director of the Imperial-Shell University Technology Centre (UTC) for Fuels and Lubricants. He leads most of the advanced modelling research activities within the group, working in close collaboration with experimentalists. Most of these projects are multidisciplinary and range from atomic and molecular simulation of lubricant, additives and surfaces to the modelling of machine or biomechanical components. He works on the development of new materials for implants and biomedical solutions, lubricants and additives, energy efficiency in automotive and aerospace, and on the development of innovative modelling techniques and computational algorithms and solutions for surfaces and industrial components.
His work has led to breakthroughs in e.g. the understanding of cartilage lubrication mechanics, the development of functionalized materials for friction control in soft materials and hydrogels and the unravelling of the mechanisms responsible for triboelectrification. He has graduated over 35 PhDs, who are now in prominent academic and industrial roles, as main supervisor and has established a significant number of links with international collaborators, including Politecnico di Bari, Politecnico di Milano, Universities of Swinburne, Merced, Cambridge, Oxford, Modena and Reggio Emilia, Salento, Saarland, Sao Paulo, TU Wien, TUM, KIT, Lanzhou Institute of Chemical Physics. His passion for research and mentoring has been recognised at Imperial College by a Medal in Research Supervision (2012).
Professor Dini’s group performs fundamental research, while successfully supporting the application of tribology in industry. Since joining Imperial College, he has developed a world-leading research activity in tribology while maintaining his interest in material damage processes. In practice the two fields overlap in terms of contact mechanics, frictional interfaces and consequent damage accumulation. Examples of noteworthy methodologies he has developed include coupled Fluid/Solid Interactions (SFI) methods to solve EHL problems in collaboration with the SKF University Technology Centre in Tribology at Imperial, and mass-conserving complementarity formulations to study lubricant films in the presence of cavitation, which has been used to study textured surfaces with Ford as well as in collaborations with Ducati and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
In the last 10 years he has extended his research into atomic scale and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations, to study both bulk and confined fluids, friction fundamentals, and coupling techniques to link MD and continuum CFD simulations across the scales. Recent attainments the use of advanced MD simulations to study the interplay between detergents and water in oil showing the origin of acid neutralisation mechanisms with BP and the study of friction modifiers and mechano-chemical interactions at fluid-solid interfaces in collaboration with Afton Chemical. The strong link with Shell has led to the establishment of a research strategy for the development of new solutions for the energy transition based on the modelling techniques developed by Daniele’s team. The group’s achievements in this cooperation with industry have been recognised by the President’s Award and Medal for Excellence in External Engagement Partnerships received from Imperial College in 2017.
He has published over 250 papers in international journals and has presented over 50 invited, keynote and plenary talks at various International Conferences and International Seminars and Symposia as well as delivering advanced courses and seminars to industry. His work has led to the award of international journal paper prizes (including the Thomas Bernard Hall Prize from the IMechE in 2008 and 2010 and the K.L. Johnson Award from the ASME in 2012), the Donald Julius Groen Prize for Tribology in 2019, and the inaugural Peter Jost Tribology Award in 2022. He was elected Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2014, Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2019, and Fellow of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers and of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2021.
He is therefore a worthy winner of the 2022 Tribology Silver Medal.