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Research interests

Currently Jonathan is concerned to build a team to develop reliability engineering science to enable the prediction of electrical component/system reliability under harsh operating conditions. The science that underlies analysis and modelling of component/system reliability is still in its infancy. Most ageing models are a collection of equations generally describing a system from a phenomenological perspective and are limited mainly to that specific system under examination. This has generated a vast array of ageing models based on many different physical principles with many different variables. From an engineering perspective this approach has been adequate within specified limits. However, Jonathan is concerned to develop the physics of component ageing from a fundamental thermodynamics approach and thus develop a generalised theory of ageing (or importantly system robustness) from the bottom upwards.

Three facilities are under development in this research at Heriot-Watt:-

  • The 3D X-Ray Computer Tomography Facility is to aid defect analysis to better understand the physics of failure of electrical and electromechanical devices.
  • The High Current Test Facility is to aid the understanding of degradation processes in high current connectors and wiring in electrical vehicles.
  • The GreenGlean Research Facility uses the micro-systems fabrication facilities within the School to build a suite of macro-systems manufacturing tools for fundamental research of novel materials for energy converter devices.

See also ReliabilityZoo.com for a collection of resources related to Reliability Engineering.


Jonathan Swingler is Senior Lecturer in Energy at Heriot-Watt University within the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (Electrical Engineering). Over the last twenty years he has developed an extensive expertise in the reliability of electrical systems following positions at Loughborough University and the University of Southampton. His work has particularly focused on electrical contacts and interconnecting in automotive and aerospace systems. He has more than 60 publications, is a reviewer for many leading journal publications, acts as an Expert Witness concerning failure of components and patent disputes, and is a proposal evaluator and project reviewer for the European Commission. He is a chartered physicist and is actively involved with the Institute of Physics. He is the Honorary Treasurer for the Dielectrics Group and was Chair of the Dielectric2011 International Conference and is Chair for the 28th International Conference on Electrical Contacts

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production


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