Charles Courtney


  • 4 EAST 2.21

Accepting Doctoral Students


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Charles Courtney is a Lecturer in mechanical engineering and a member of the Solid Mechanics and Materials Group.

He works in the field of ultrasonics. Current work includes: the use of ultrasound for damage detection in engineering materials, and manipulation of biological cells with ultrasound.

Charles obtained his MPhys degree from the University of Reading in 2000, followed by his PhD in atomic and molecular physics in 2004.

He then joined the Ultrasonics and Non-destructive Group at the University of Bristol, working for three years on detection of fatigue damage in metals using non-linear ultrasound propagation.

Following a brief period working in structural health monitoring of plates he joined the Sonotweezers project in 2009.

The Sonotweezers project developed methods and devices for accurate dexterous positioning of biological cells, and other micro-scale objects, in fluids.


Charles's research interests are in applications of ultrasound, in particular relating to non-destructive evaluation (NDE) of engineering components and the use of the acoustic radiation force for manipulation of micro-scale particles.

Ultrasonic non-destructive evaluation relies on changes (due to damage) in materials causing changes to the propagation of ultrasound. These changes can be exploited to detect and image damage. Dr Courtney uses a combination of analysis, modelling and experiment to investigate ways of detecting damage in components with difficult geometries or materials.

The acoustic radiation force affects objects scattering an acoustic wave. At ultrasonic frequencies in water this leads to appreciable forces on particles in the tens of micrometer scale, the scale of biological cells.

Careful design of ultrasonic fields in devices allows the manipulation of cells to arbitrary positions. Applications of these forces include cell sorting, filtering and concentration, and bio-engineering.

Charles's current research is aimed at improving dexterity of manipulation and increasing forces, especially near surfaces.

Willing to supervise doctoral students

Interested in supervising students studying:

  • Ultrasonic non-destructive evaluation and structural health monitoring
  • Ultrasonic transducers
  • Acoustic particle manipulation
  • Acoustofluidics


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