skip to content

Materials Chemistry Group


Ms Eleonore Cassandra Poli



Eleonore Poli is a Ph.D. candidate in Materials Chemistry Group supervised by Prof. R Vasant Kumar. She also completed her M.Phil. by research program at the same department, working on corrosion resistant thermal barrier coatings for gas turbine applications. She studied material science and engineering at the technical university Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, with a specialization in materials and processes at the Zürich School of Engineering (ZHAW), both located in Switzerland. She wrote two bachelor thesis, the first on developing a tensile testing set-up for 3D printed open cell aluminium silicium foams, the second on characterising defects on Ti6Al4V aircraft turbine discs. She has so far studied in four languages, French, English, German and Swiss German.

Current research

After completing her Masters, Eleonore shifted her research on the study of crack initiation and propagation in protective coatings for power generation gas turbine blade applications. She uses  an experimental rig that simulates hot corrosion and fatigue conditions, using a 4-point bend set-up in a furnace with a controlled atmosphere of air and SO2/SO3 mix. 
The coatings are sprayed on a 1st generation nickel superalloy single crystal. The first coating is a chromium diffused coating with a high proportion of aluminium and cobalt, and the second a NiCrAlY alloy. These coatings should expand the life of the turbine blades, but so far in applications, seemed to have reduced the life of the blades. Better understanding of the failure mechanisms and resistant of the blades will help Solar Turbines in the choise of coating (or no coating for that matter). 
Using scanning electron microscope and x-ray diffraction, she can observe and correlate element diffusion with material weakening and then failure of the coating. In addition, she studies the effect of environment alone to measure the sensitivity of the coating to the environment itself. 
Failure of the component happens in presence of NaCl after a certain number of cycles. Environmental tests so far seem to show a higher reactivity of coating 1 to NaCl, whereas coating 2 seems to react stronguer to sulphur alone. This could help in choosing the location for the use of one coating over the other (coating one should preferably not be used in off-shore platforms or at proximity of a saline environment). 


In combination with her studies, Eleonore worked with children and teenagers on robotics and mathematics, serving first as assistant then as teacher on Lego robots WeDo and Mindstorms. She also worked in the construction materials laboratory at EPFL under the supervision of Professor Karen Scrivener. She then spent two summers (total 6 months) working on projects at Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., where she had to qualify a new brazing alloy to replace outdated and dangerous filler materials, had to estimate the friction coefficient of bolts and perform corrosion tests to qualify new lubricating greases.

She has worked in several voluntary projects such as the association Aeropoly, where she was responsible for space applications, and EPFL Rocket Team, where she helped in the choice of a payload for a miniature model rocket. She has served as student representative at EPFL, ZHAW and Cambridge University.


Eleonore has a wide range of interests which she keeps alive. She plays the piano, competes in running and triathlon races and is currently learning Russian. She is also part of the association, an association responsible for the restauration of the Dufaux plane and the creation of airships. She photographs events and does portraits, and enjoys urban exploration.

She is treasurer and welfare officer in the Cambridge University Handball Team, where she plays as a left wing and line. She has a dear passion for aerospace, which is helped by being a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society. She is also a volunteer for the Swiss Space Museum.