History and Awards


HIstoryIn 1948 Professor Cameron established a Lubrication Section in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Imperial College in London. Professor Cameron was a chemist by background and an engineer by temperament so the Section’s research was multidisciplinary from the outset, an approach it maintains to this day. Some of his first research was to apply the newly-invented electronic computer to solve hydrodynamic bearing problems.

By the 1960s the Lubrication Section comprised three academic staff and about 20 PhD students working on a wide range of problems including hydrodynamic, elastohydrodynamic and boundary lubrication, lubricant additives, rheology, friction and wear.

A particularly important achievement was the development of optical interferometry as a method of measuring elastohydrodynamic lubricating films. This has now become a very widely used way to characterise lubricants, both in industry and academia.

Professor Cameron retired in 1982 and the Section, now called the Tribology Section, was carried forward by Dr. Sayles and Dr Spikes. In 1987 the Section spun off the consulting company PCS and in 1991 this became PCS Instruments, now a world-leading lubricant research equipment company.

The Tribology Section continued successful research throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including work that led to the ISO/ASTM standard for measuring diesel fuel lubricity and research that quantified the influence of contaminants on bearing life, now enshrined in all bearing design handbooks.

HistoryThe Tribology Section was awarded a Platform Grant in Tribology from EPSRC in 2000 and this was followed by a second such grant in 2009. In 2005, the Tribology Section was renamed Tribology Group and it received the Rector’s Research Excellence Award in 2008, recognising it as a leading research group in Imperial College.

In 2010 the SKF University Technology Centre in Tribology was established within the Tribology Group, formalising a long and successful relationship between the Group and SKF. In 2013 this was followed by the establishment of the Shell University Technology Centre in Fuels and Lubricants in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Imperial College, again building on past research links between the Tribology Group and Shell.

The Group continues to grow and prosper and now consists of six academic staff, a senior and a junior research fellow, more than 50 postdoctoral staff and PhD students as well as several academic visitors. It is based in the Applied Mechanics Division of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College but maintains collaborative research projects throughout Imperial College as well as with many university tribology research groups around the world.


The Tribology Group and its members have received many honours and awards in recognition of the quality of their research.Medal

  • Three Tribology Trust Gold Medals (1983, Professor Cameron; 2004, Professor Spikes; 2009, Professor Ioannides)
  • Three Tribology Silver Medals (1996, Professor Spikes; 2004, Dr Cann, 2004: Professor Olver, 2010)
  • Three Tribology Bronze Medals (2004, Dr Dini; 2010, Dr Fowell; 2011, Dr Reddyhoff)
  • STLE International Award, (2004, Professor Spikes)
  • ASME Mayo D Hersey Award, (2004, Professor Spikes)
  • Taiho Young Tribologist Award, (2009, Dr Reddyhoff)
  • Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, Jacob Wallenberg Foundation Grant (2000, Professor Spikes; 2002, Dr Sayles, 2004; Dr Cann, 2007, Dr Dini)
  • AIPI Associazione Italiana Progettisti Industriali, Leonardo da Vinci Prize, (2011, Professor Ioannides)
  • Institute of Physics Tribology Group, Innovation in Technology Award (2011, Dr Wong)
  • Imperial College Research Excellence Award (2009, Tribology Group)
  • Imperial College Rector’s Medal for Excellence in Research Supervision (2012, Dr Dini)
  • Faculty of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award (2014, Dr Dini)
  • More than 20 annual best papers awards from the journals of the IMechE, ASME and STLE, 14 since 2000