Prof Bill Lee

tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6733
ext: 6733
fax: +44 (0)20 7594 6757



Bill is Head of the Department of Materials and Professor of Ceramic Engineering. He joined Imperial in January 2006. After graduating in Physical Metallurgy from Aston University he gained a DPhil from Oxford University on radiation damage in sapphire, was a post-doc at Oxford and Case Western Reserve Universities, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University, USA before becoming lecturer in ceramics at the University of Sheffield in 1989. While at Sheffield he was Manager of the Sorby Centre for Electron Microscopy and Director of the Immobilisation Science Laboratory.

Awards and honours: 
  • He has won multiple prizes including the Rosenhain Medal (1999) and Pfeil Award (2000) of the IOM3 and the Wakabayashi Prize (2004) of the Refractories Society of Japan.
  • He is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and the IOM3.
Memberships : 
  • Bill is a member of the High Scientific Council of European Nuclear Society, the International Globalisation Task Force of the American Ceramic Society and the Materials panel for the UK RAE 2008. 

Bill studies the relation between processing, properties and microstructures in a broad range of ceramics. His research interests include: radwaste and radiation damage; silicates, clays and clay-based ceramics; crystallisation and glass ceramics; electron microscopy and microstructures; structural ceramics and ceramic matrix composites; high temperature refractory composites and ceramics in environmental cleanup. He has authored three books (Ceramic Microstructures Property Control by Processing with WM Rainforth in 1994, An Introduction to Nuclear Waste Immobilisation with M Ojovan in 2005 and New Developments in Glassy Nuclear Wasteforms with M Ojovan in 2007), 7 book chapters and nearly 300 peer-reviewed papers and has successfully supervised 40 students to completion of their PhDs.


ZrB2-SiC composites are being considered for next generation space orbiter thermal protection systems for orbiters which can take off and land unaided by other systems such as piggybacking on rockets like the current space shuttles. The high-temperature properties are crucial to successful development of these materials and the interface between the SiC and ZrB2 has a key influence. In this project we are using detailed transmission electron microscopy to examine the nature of the interphases and how they control high-temperature behaviour.

Image: Interface showing no grain boundary phase

Recent Publications

  • Rafael Guimarães de Sá, William Edward Lee, Nanotechnology for the Refractories Industry - A Foresight Perspective, The Refractories Engineer, May 2007
  • Daniel D. Jayaseelan, William E. Lee, Devaraj Amutharani, Shaowei Zhang, Katsumi Yoshida and Hideki Kita, In Situ Formation of Silicon Carbide Nanofibers on Cordierite Substrates, J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 90[5] 1603-1606 (2007), DOI: 10.1111/j.1551-2916.2007.01541.x [PDF file]
  • S. Bajwa, W.M. Rainforth , W.E. Lee, Sliding wear behaviour of SiC–Al2O3 nanocomposites , WEAR, 2005, Vol: 259, Pages: 553 - 561, ISSN: 0043-1648, DOI:10.1016/j.wear.2005.02.027 [PDF file]