Department of Materials


Dr Elisa Mele MSc, PhD

Photo of Dr Elisa Mele


Elisa completed her Masters degree in Physics at the University of Lecce (Italy) in 2003. She obtained the PhD in Innovative Materials and Technologies in 2007 at the Superior Institute of Interdisciplinary Education of the University of Salento (Italy) under the supervision of Prof R. Cingolani, working on nanofabrication strategies for organic optoelectronic devices.

In 2005, Elisa won a Marie Curie fellowship at the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), Heraklion (Greece) for developing surfaces with optically switchable wettability. In 2008, she became a Post-doc Research Associate in the group of Prof. D. A. Weitz at the Department of Physics of Harvard University, where she acquired expertise on microfluidic devices for the production of hydrogel micro-particles and for investigating the biophysical properties of normal and diseased renal glomeruli.

During the appointments as Post-doc Research Associate at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory and at the Centre for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies (Lecce, Italy), Elisa worked on microfluidic platforms integrating functional elements for DNA amplification, food safety and for studying the growth and differentiation of human renal stem cells.

From 2012 to 2015, Elisa was Research Group Leader at the Nanophysics Department of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa (Italy), conducting research on biopolymers derived from natural sources, such as plants and marine environment, with application in tissue engineering for skin regeneration and in drug delivery systems. In April 2015, she joined the Department of Materials of Loughborough University as Senior Lecturer in Polymer Science.



  • Qualification as Researcher in Physical Sciences at the National Research Council (CNR, Italy), 2011
  • PhD in Innovative Materials and Technologies (University of Salento, Italy), 2007
  • MSc in Physics (University of Lecce, Italy), 2003


Outline of main research interests:

  • Biocompatible and natural polymers for regenerative medicine
  • Nanofibrous wound dressings with antimicrobial activity and enhanced cell proliferation
  • Functional nanocomposites with controlled superficial and mechanical properties
  • Microfluidic devices for biological assays and food safety
  • Nanofabrication approaches for polymers 


Current teaching responsibilities:

  • MPP509: Biomaterials
  • MPF001: Materials and Materials Processing
  • MPP506/606: Plastics and Composites Applications
  • MPB201: Structures and Properties of Polymers
  • MPA100: Materials and Processing for Designers 


Recent publications: 

  • S. Guzman-Puyol, J. A. Heredia-Guerrero, L. Ceseracciu, H. Hajiali, C. Canale, A. Scarpellini, R. Cingolani, I. S. Bayer, A. Athanassiou, E. Mele, “Low-cost and effective fabrication of biocompatible nanofibers from silk and cellulose-rich materials”, ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering, 2, 526-534, 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.5b00500.

  • H. Hajiali, M. Summa, D. Russo, A. Armirotti, V. Brunetti, R. Bertorelli, A. Athanassiou, E. Mele, “Alginate–lavender nanofibers with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity to effectively promote burn healing”, Journal Materials Chemistry B, 4, 1686-1695, 2016. DOI: 10.1039/C5TB02174J. 

  • A. Davis, E. Mele, J. A. Heredia-Guerrero, I. S. Bayer, A. Athanassiou, “Omniphobic nanocomposite fiber mats with peel-away self similarity”, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 3, 23821, 2015. DOI: 10.1039/C5TA06333G.

  • H. Hajiali, J. A. Heredia-Guerrero, A. Athanassiou, E. Mele, "Alginate nanofibrous constructs with adjustable biodegradation rate for regenerative medicine", Biomacromolecules, 16, 936, 2015. DOI: 10.1021/bm501834m.
  • I. Liakos, L. Rizzello, H. Hajiali, V. Brunetti, R. Carzino, P. P. Pompa, A. Athanassiou, E. Mele, "Fibrous wound dressings encapsulating essential oils as natural antimicrobial agents", Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 3, 1583, 2015. DOI: 10.1039/C4TB01974A.

Selected publications:

This is some our most recent work to understand the spallation mechanics of thin films. It draws on the understanding developed in our theoretical work on the interfacial fracture of layered materials. Excellent agreement with independently-obtained experimental measurements is obtained.

  • Harvey CM, Wang B, Wang S (2017). Spallation of thin films driven by pockets of energy concentration. Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics. DOI: 10.1016/j.tafmec.2017.04.011.

Fracture between dissimilar interfaces is an important consideration in the design and application of composite materials and structures, for example, to determine the toughness against fracture or spallation. It has, however, proved an extremely challenging problem for decades to obtain analytical solutions for the complex stress intensity factors and the crack extension size-dependent energy release rates based on 2D elasticity. These papers achieve a solution and present elegant analytical formulae.

  • Wood JD, Harvey CM, Wang S (2016). Partition of mixed-mode fractures in 2D elastic orthotropic laminated beams under general loading. Composite Structures, 149, pp. 239–246, DOI: 10.1016/j.compstruct.2016.04.016.
  • Harvey CM, Wood JD, Wang S (2015). Brittle interfacial cracking between two dissimilar elastic layers: Part 1—Analytical development. Composite Structures, 134, pp. 1076–1086, DOI: 10.1016/j.compstruct.2015.06.080.

These two papers present Loughborough’s mixed-mode fracture partition theories in an easy-to-use format. They are helpful references for researchers carrying out mixed-mode fracture toughness testing. They also make comparisons between the theories and several sets of independently-obtained fracture toughness test data. A key observation is that Loughborough’s Euler/classical beam-based partition theory gives the best predictions for the mixed-mode fracture toughness of the graphite/epoxy fibre-reinforced composite laminates.

  • Harvey CM, Eplett MR, Wang S (2015). Experimental assessment of mixed-mode partition theories for generally laminated composite beams. Composite Structures, 124, pp. 10–18, DOI: 10.1016/j.compstruct.2014.12.064.
  • Harvey CM and Wang S (2012). Experimental assessment of mixed-mode partition theories. Composite Structures, 94, pp. 2057–2067, DOI: 10.1016/j.compstruct.2012.02.007.

This early paper presents the fundamentals of Loughborough’s powerful orthogonal pure fracture mode methodology, and analytical formulae for mixed-mode partition theories based on Euler/classical beams and Timoshenko/first-order shear-deformable beams, and an approximate rule for 2D elasticity-based partitions. It underpins all the subsequent developments. It is a helpful paper for those wishing to understand in detail the fundamental mechanics of mixed-mode fracture.

  • Wang S and Harvey CM (2012). Mixed mode partition theories for one dimensional fracture. Engineering Fracture Mechanics, 79, pp. 329–352, DOI: 10.1016/j.engfracmech.2011.11.013.

 View central publications database