Emeritus Professor William George Ferguson

1961 University of New Zealand, BSc (Physics), 1962 University of New Zealand, BE(Hons)(Mechanical), 1965 University of Auckland, PhD(Engineering)

Biography

Dr William George Ferguson is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Auckland, specialising in the field of Chemical and Materials Engineering. 

Research | Current

Research field is the mechanical performance of materials including the relationship of properties of materials to microstructure and processing, especially fracture toughness and fatigue behaviour, including environmental effects and high temperature behaviour. On returning to New Zealand in 1968 realized that the very new field of fracture mechanics was beginning to influence engineering thinking in respect of materials behaviour and set about measuring fracture toughness and through research, graduate students, lectures, professional development courses and consulting to raise the general awareness of fracture mechanics and its application in New Zealand. Has established fracture mechanics in NZ.  Materials studied include metals and alloys, Pinus radiata, plastics and metal matrix composites.   A major research programme has been the investigation of corrosion-fatigue in steels used in off-shore structures and also magnesium alloys in seawater. Significant finding relates to the effect of H2S (results from biological decay) on the fatigue of steel. Extensive work has been done on the fracture toughness of Pinus radiata, being first in NZ to determine this and a fundamental theory developed to explain the dependence of the strength of wood on temperature, moisture content and strain rate.  Research also includes the properties of steel and magnesium especially at high temperature, a collaborative research program with Tokushima Japan on the modification of surfaces with ceramic thin films, ceramic fibre-metal matrix composites, damping capacity of lead -rubber bearings, application of fracture mechanics to wood. Most recent work includes the fracture behaviour of steel subjected to large cyclic plastic strain, loading experienced in earthquakes, modelling the non-isothermal heat treatment of aluminium alloys and response of welded joints to earthquake loading environments. Also investigating the performance of structural steel elements and reinforcing bar, plastically deformed from earthquake loading, especially the determination of residual life. 

Major Achievements:

  • Whilst at Berkeley investigated the mechanical behaviour of metals at very high rates of deformation. This work was the first to explain the rapid increase in strength observed at high rates of deformation and showed the behaviour to be related to dislocation- phonon interactions.
  • Whilst at Oxford investigated the mechanical behaviour of mild steel, over a wide range of temperatures and rates of deformation including very high rates of deformation.  This work, which has not been repeated elsewhere since, is used as the standard to explain dynamic fracture, the behaviour of metals during high speed machining and high-speed structural deformation. Highly cited work.
  • On returning to N.Z. in 1968, made a determined effort to get into the field of fracture mechanics for it was clear even then that these concepts were beginning to influence engineering thinking in respect of material behaviour. Thus set about obtaining equipment to measure toughness, establish a small group of research students and through these graduate students, lectures, C.C.E. courses and consulting, to raise the general awareness of fracture mechanics in N.Z. In this endeavour has in the main succeeded. Has done significant work relating fracture toughness to micro-structure, fracture appearance and specimen size.
  • Developed a theory which explains the dependence of the strength of wood on temperature, moisture content and rate of loading. Theory now well established.  Carried out the first fracture toughness tests on Pinus radiata in New Zealand to establish the fracture performance and obtain design data. Applied  fracture mechanics to finger joint design in collaboration with Dr A. H. Bryant and Dr R. Hunt. 
  • Conducted a major investigation into the corrosion fatigue of structural steel in seawater and a significant finding related to the effect of H2S on fatigue crack growth. Work continued with high strength(700 MPa) structural steel in sea water. Corrosion fatigue of magnesium alloys in seawater  also investigated.
  • Have investigated the hot-forming properties of cast steel and magnesium alloys( with Dr Hodgson).
  • Collaborative research project with Professor Murakami, University of Tokushima, Japan on fatigue performance of surface modified materials and metal-matrix composites.
  • Have carried out an investigation into the fatigue performance of aluminium castings and life extension in aluminium alloy die-casting (thermal fatigue).
  • Collaborative research programme with IRL & RSL investigating the performance of earthquake, base-isolating, lead-rubber bearings in-particular have determined cyclic damping capacity and recrystallisation   behaviour of lead.
  • Collaborative work with the Timber Engineering Group from Civil Engineering looking into the application of fracture mechanics to finger joints and structural design with new crop Pinus radiata, which shows a strong tendency to brittleness.
  • Ductility and fracture of welded steel joints subject to earthquake loading (with Dr Butterworth & HERA). Fracture behaviour of new HSLA steel reinforcing bar, in collaboration with Pacific Steel. The  fracture behaviour of steel subjected to large cyclic plastic strain, loading experienced in earthquakes.
  • Modeling microstructure and strength for the non-isothermal heat treatment of aluminium alloys, which represent actual heat treatment conditions.
  • Has established collaborative research programmes with the University of Tokushima, the CRI-IRL, DOTSE, CSIRO Brisbane, BHPNZSteel, MagTech, Glucina Smelters and HERA.
  • Agent for the Cooperative Exchange Agreement between the Engineering Faculties of the Universities of Tokushima and Auckland which was initiated by me in 1986. Staff exchanges over the last 25 years have been funded by Monbusho and at least five International Scientific Exchange Programs funded by Monbusho have been awarded to Tokushima to maintain this Co-operation.
  • Following the Christchurch earthquake series, are with associate Professor Charles Clifton, Dr Mike Hodgson & students, investigating the performance of structural steel and reinforcing bar under earthquake loading, especially the determination of residual life for plastically deformed members/elements/bars. Also doing extensive consulting on the qualification of imported steel to meet the necessary New Zealand Structural Steel Standards
  • Modelling of dislocation behaviour using Molecular Dynamics, MD, and Dislocation Dynamics, DD.

 

Distinctions/Honours

1966       Sigma Xi, Berkeley

1993       Education Service Medal, for services to secondary education

2007       Richard Henry Cooper Memorial Award, for an Outstanding Contribution to Metallurgical and   Materials Engineering in NZ by the Society of Materials New Zealand Incorporated(SMNZI).  

2011       Certificate of Honour as Founding Member of AMDP Conference Series and distinguished service in the advancement of fatigue.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

FIMMM        Fellow Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3), London, 1985 -  

CEng           Chartered Engineer, London 1986 -

CSci            Chartered Scientist, London 2005 -

FIEAust       Fellow of Institution of Engineers, Australia 1991 –

CPEng        Chartered Engineer, Australia 1991 -

FIPENZ       Fellow Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand 1973 –

The Metallurgical Society, 1968 – 1974, Committee member

Australasian Institute of Metals, AIM, 1974 – 1985, Committee member 1978 – 1985

Chairman Technical Sessions Committee, 1980 AIM Annual Conference, Auckland

Chairman AIM, 2nd NZ Metals & Materials Symposium, 1985, Auckland   

Institute of Metals and Materials Australasia, IMMA, 1985 -1990

Committee Northern Division NZ Branch, 1978-1990

Chairman Northern Division NZ Branch, 1985-1990

Chairman NZ Branch IMMA, 1988-1990

Federal Council of IMMA, 1986-1990

Fellow, IMMA, 1986-1990

Institution of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ), 1973 - present

SCENZ - IChemE in NZ 1974 –

Engineering Materials Group, 1991 - 2003. Chairman, 1991-1994

SMNZI(Technical Group of IPENZ) 2003 – 2010, Committee member, - present.

Institute of metals(IOM), London, Liason Member in New Zealand. 1986 - 1990

ASM, American Society of Metals 1970-1995

TMS, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 1998 -

Member TMS Light Metals Division, Magnesium Committee 00–

The International Congress on Fracture (ICF), Council member 1997 - 

Australian Fracture Group Inc, AFG, Committee member 1997 – 

President, Australian Fracture Group, AFG, 2008 – 2010

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Burbery, N., Das, R., & Ferguson, W. G. (2017). Dynamic behaviour of mixed dislocations in FCC metals under multi-oriented loading with molecular dynamics simulations. Computational Materials Science, 137, 39-54. 10.1016/j.commatsci.2017.05.023
  • Burbery, N., Das, R., & Ferguson, W. G. (2016). Harmonic effects in atomistic phase interactions between phonons and dislocations moving at relativistic velocities. Computational Materials Science, 124, 259-266. 10.1016/j.commatsci.2016.08.001
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raj Das
  • Burbery, N. J., Das, R., & Ferguson, W. G. (2016). Thermo-kinetic mechanisms for grain boundary structure multiplicity, thermal instability and defect interactions. Materials Chemistry and Physics, 179, 254-265. 10.1016/j.matchemphys.2016.05.037
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/33882
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raj Das
  • Burbery, N., Das, R., Ferguson, W. G., Po, G., & Ghoniem, N. (2016). Atomistic Activation Energy Criteria for Multi-Scale Modeling of Dislocation Nucleation in FCC Metals. International Journal of Computational Methods, 13 (04), 1641006-1641006. 10.1142/S0219876216410061
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raj Das
  • Burbery, N. J., Das, R., & Ferguson, W. G. (2016). Transitional grain boundary structures and the influence on thermal, mechanical and energy properties from molecular dynamics simulations. ACTA MATERIALIA, 108, 355-366. 10.1016/j.actamat.2016.01.054
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raj Das
  • Burbery, N. J., Das, R., & Ferguson, W. G. (2016). Transitional grain boundary structures and the influence on thermal, mechanical and energy properties from molecular dynamics simulations. Acta Materialia, 108, 355-366. 10.1016/j.actamat.2016.01.054
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raj Das
  • Burbery, N. J., Das, R., & Ferguson, W. G. (2015). The observation of structural multiplicity in Σ5(310) grain boundaries in FCC metals. Materials Letters, 158, 413-415. 10.1016/j.matlet.2015.06.062
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raj Das
  • Burbery, N. J., Das, R., & Ferguson, W. G. (2015). Transitional grain boundary structures and the influence on thermal, mechanical and energy properties from molecular dynamics simulations. Acta Materialia10.1016/j.actamat.2016.01.054
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raj Das

Identifiers

Contact details

Primary office location

2-6 PARK AVENUE - Bldg 529
Level 1, Room 103A
2-6 PARK AVE
GRAFTON
AUCKLAND 1023
New Zealand

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