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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 PhD

Interested in supervising students studying:

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

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  • Modelling of metamaterials for medical engineering and noise control

    Carley, M., Gheduzzi, S., Courtney, C. & de Sousa, F.


    Project: Research-related funding

  • Research Output

    Calculation of guided wave dispersion characteristics using a three-transducer measurement system

    Crespo, B. H., Courtney, C. R. P. & Engineer, B., 31 Aug 2018, In : Applied Sciences (Switzerland). 8, 8, 1253.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Empirical technique for dispersion curve creation for guided wave applications

    Hernandez-Crespo, B., Engineer, B. & Courtney, C., 5 Jul 2016, Proceedings of the 8th European Workshop On Structural Health Monitoring, 2016. p. 1375-1384

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Ultrasonic edge waves for damage detection in composite plate stiffeners

    Chu, J. & Courtney, C., 20 Sep 2016. 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

    Tunable beam shaping with a phased array acousto-optic modulator

    Grinenko, A., MacDonald, M. P., Courtney, C. R. P., Wilcox, P. D., Demore, C. E. M., Cochran, S. & Drinkwater, B. W., 12 Jan 2015, In : Optics Express. 23, 1, p. 26-32 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 8 Citations (Scopus)


    Characterisation and Exploitation of Ultrasonic Guided Wave Modes for Structural Health Monitoring of Glass-Fibre-Reinforced-Polymer Structures

    Author: Hernandez-Crespo, B., 19 Jun 2019

    Supervisor: Butler, R. (Supervisor) & Courtney, C. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD