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Dr. David Wilkinson

Distinguished University Professor

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Ductile fracture of metals and alloys; lightweight materials for fuel efficient vehicles; advanced high strength steels.
Areas of Specialization:
Research Clusters:


My research is focused on two linked approaches to understanding ductile fracture and its role in the development of structural components for lightweight vehicles.  The first is concerned with the ductility of a range of alloys which are or might be used in advanced automotive vehicles.  Currently our focus is on advanced high strength steels, often referred to as third generation steels.  These materials, with strengths well in excess of 1GPa, have rather poor ductility.  Our research aims to use thermomechanical processing approaches to improve ductility without limiting strength.  We use a combination of experimental and modeling approaches in this work.  On the experimental side we make extensive use of in-situ x-ray computed tomography (XCT) as well as in-situ experiments (typically tensile tests performed inside an optical or scanning electron microscope).  The data from these experiments are fed into continuum mechanics and crystal plasticity models to simulate the deformation and fracture process.

A second approach is concerned with a fundamental study of ductile fracture mechanisms including the processes of void growth and linkage. A series of 2D and 3D model materials with artificial holes are fabricated using picosecond laser drilling followed by subsequent diffusion bonding treatments. The processes are visualized by deforming the model material using in situ testing and are also captured using XCT. The experimental results are used to aid in the development of the existing fracture models.


B.A.Sc. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Cambridge, U.K.), FRSC, FCAE, FCIM, FACerS, P.Eng.


David S. Wilkinson received his undergraduate degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto (1972) and his Ph.D. in Engineering Materials from the University of Cambridge (1978).  He joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at McMaster as an assistant professor in 1979.  He was promoted to full professor in 1988. Dr. Wilkinson was the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering from 2008-2012 and Provost of the University from 2012-2017.  He is registered as a professional engineer in the province of Ontario.

Professor Wilkinson’s academic career has been recognized through a number of prestigious awards.  He was awarded the title of Distinguished University Professor at McMaster University in 2008, a title that was then available to only 8 active faculty members at a time.  In 2009 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Prof. Wilkinson has taught widely and undertaken extensive course development work.  He was instrumental in the development of a new introductory Materials course, involving a highly interactive learning environment.  This course is taught each year to about 900 first year students.  Prof. Wilkinson has also written an undergraduate textbook on mass transport, published by Cambridge University Press in 2000. 

Prof. Wilkinson is the author of over 250 scientific publications, specializing in the mechanical behaviour of both metals and ceramics.  His research interests include the effect of thermomechanical processing on the properties of alloys (magnesium, aluminum and high strength steel) with a current focus on the formability of automotive sheet and the incorporation of damage into models of deformation and ductile fracture.  His research has been widely cited (Web of Science H index of 37) and strongly supported by industrial partners from the automotive and aerospace industries.

He has held visiting professorships at the Max Planck Intitut für Metallforschung (as a von Humboldt fellow), the University of California Santa Barbara, the Institut National des Sciences Appliqués de Lyon, the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (as CNRS fellow) and the University of Tokyo (sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science). He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (CIM) and a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society.  He is a recipient of the Canadian Materials Physics Medal (2004) as well as the Dofasco Award (2004), the Alcan Award (2012) and the Silver Medal (2016) of the Metallurgical Society of CIM.  He is also a recipient of two awards for contributions to the scientific literature, most notably the Ross Coffin Purdy Award of the American Ceramic Society (2000) for the best paper published globally on ceramics in a given year.  Professor Wilkinson was appointed as a CIM Distinguished Lecturer for 2003/2004.  Finally, he was selected to present the DKC MacDonald Memorial Lecture at the Canadian Materials Science Conference in 2015.



  1. Nemcko, M.J. and Wilkinson, D.S., On the damage and fracture of commercially pure magnesium using X-ray microtomography, Mater. Sci. Eng. A 676, 146–155 (2016)
  2. Nemcko, M.J., Li, J. and Wilkinson, D.S., Effects of void band orientation and crystallographic anisotropy on void growth and coalescence, J. Mech. Phys. Sol., 95, 270-83 (2016)
  3. Nemcko, M.J., Qiao, H., Wu, P. and Wilkinson, D.S., Effects of Void Fraction on Void Growth and Linkage in Commercially Pure Magnesium, Acta Mater., 113, 68-80 (2016)
  4. Yang, Z., Kang, J. and Wilkinson, D.S, The Effect of Porosity on Fatigue of Die Cast AM60, Metall. Mater. Trans. A, 47, 3464-72 (2016)
  5. Yang, Z., Maurey, A., Kang, J. and Wilkinson, D.S, 2D and 3D characterization of pore defects in die cast AM60, Mater. Charact., 114, 254-62 (2016)
  6. Nemcko, M.J. and Wilkinson, D.S., Impact of microstructure on void growth and linkage in pure magnesium, Inter. J. Fract, 200, 31-47 (2016)
  7. Ray, A.K. and Wilkinson, D.S., A ductile fracture analysis in wrought magnesium alloys using X-ray tomography, Mater. Sci. Engin. A, 658, 33–41 (2016)
  8. Kang, J., Chen, Y., Sigler, D., Carlson, B. and Wilkinson, D.S., Effect of Adhesive on Fatigue Property of Aural2 to AA5754 Dissimilar Aluminum Alloy Resistance Spot Welds, Engin. Failure Anal., 69, 57-65 (2016), doi:10.1016/j.engfailanal.2016.01.009
  9. Yang, Z., Kang, J. and Wilkinson, D.S., Characterization of Pore Defects and Fatigue Cracks in Die Cast AM60 Using Computed X-ray Tomography, Metall. Mater. Trans. B, 46, 1576-85 (2015)
  10. Hu, X.H., Wilkinson, D.S., Jain, M., Wu, P.D. Mishra, R.K., Fuel cap stamping simulation of AA5754 sheets using a microstructure based multi-scale approach , Comp. Mater. Sci., 98, 354-65 (2015)
  11. Hosokawa, A., Wilkinson, D.S., Kang, J. and Maire, E., Onset of void coalescence studied by continuous X-ray computed tomography, Acta Mater., 61, 1021-36 (2013)
  12. Hosokawa, A., Wilkinson, D. S., Kang, J.  and Maire, E., Influence of the restored work-hardening rate on ductility studied by X-ray computed tomography,  Phil. Mag. Lett., 93,  379-86 (2013)
  13. Hosokawa, A., Wilkinson, D. S., Kang, J. D., Kobayashi, M and Toda, H., Void growth and coalescence in model materials investigated by high-resolution X-ray microtomography, Inter. J.Fract.,  181, 51-66 (2013)
  14. Kang, J., Wilkinson, D.S., Mishra, R.K., Yuan, W and Mishra, R.S., Effect of inhomogeneous deformation on anisotropy of AZ31 magnesium sheet, Mater. Sci. Engin., A567, 101-109 (2013)
  15. Kang, J., Wilkinson, D.S., Mishra, R.K, Embury J.D., Essadiqi E., Javid A., Microstructural aspects of damage and fracture in AZ31 sheet materials, J. Mater. Engin. Perf., 22, 1386-95 (2013)


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