Materials Design, Processing and Characterisation

Materials Design, Processing and Characterisation

Research Aims

Materials science and engineering research for applications such as renewable energy devices, separation technology, biomedical devices.

Composite Materials

Materials Synthesis

Snow and Ice Research

  • Winter sports applications
  • Avalanche prediction (SLF, SAIS)
  • Vehicle tyre traction

Soft Materials

  • Polymer nanocomposites
  • Polymers at surfaces and Interfaces
  • Adhesion and Tribology

Extreme Conditions Science

Extreme conditions engineering is an interdisciplinary field of science dealing with a wide range of topics from challenges of generating the extremes of thermodynamic parameters such as pressure, temperature and magnetic field to development of experimental techniques for synthesis and comprehensive studies of magnetic, electronic and structural properties of materials properties and establishing the nature of fundamental interactions at these conditions.

Novel approach to design of instruments for extreme conditions research utilises modern techniques for computer modelling of stresses and deformations as well as temperature and field gradients in materials and equipment. This leads to the creation of new types of sample environment for diffraction, spectroscopy, magnetic and electric transport measurements in-house and at large scale neutron and synchrotron facilities.

Research Facilities

Research Projects

Miniature pressure cells for magnetic properties research

The objective of this project is to design and build a range of high-pressure cells for measuring magnetic susceptibility in a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device magnetometer. The cells are then used in studies of a various materials such as multiferroic and magnetoresistive oxides, molecular magnetic solids, organic and single molecule magnets, frustrated magnetism, superconductors and quantum critical phenomena, and magnetic geomaterials. This research contributes to the discoveries of a range of new materials and greater understanding of fundamental physical and mineralogical processes.

Development of new generation of high-pressure cells for neutron scattering

The project is aimed at designing high-pressure cells with enhanced transmission of the neutron beam which would enable studies of crystal structure and magnetic ordering in materials at extreme conditions. The new cells will also have the option of changing and measuring pressure at cryogenic temperatures to utilise more effectively valuable neutron beam time at central facilities.

High-pressure anvil analysis and optimisation

Opposed-anvil high-pressure cells are most commonly used for reaching extremely high pressures in excess of several megabar. This project uses a combination of finite element analysis and experimental testing to understand the failure modes of various anvils, including those made from super-hard ceramics as well as gem stones such as diamond, in order to optimise their performance and extend their range to higher pressures.

Pressure-Tuning Interactions in Molecule-Based Magnets

In optimizing the properties of functional materials it is essential to understand in detail how structure influences properties. This project is focused on structure-property relationships in molecule-based magnets connected into extended chains, networks or frameworks using a combination of high pressure crystallography, magnetic measurements, spectroscopy and simulation. Extended materials are of great interest because a small distortion at one site is propagated throughout the material by the strong chemical links between the magnetic centres, making the magnetic properties very sensitive to structural changes.

New Electronic Materials from Extreme Conditions

The project is focused on discovery of new correlated-electron ground states such as new types of superconductor and magnet that may underpin future technologies, e.g. for computer memories, using extreme conditions. High pressure-temperature synthesis provides dense new materials in which electron correlations are enhanced and may be altered by chemical doping. Careful tuning of low temperatures, high pressures and high magnetic fields is then used to push materials to the tipping points where new electronic ground states form.

Snow and Ice Research
Snow and Ice Research
Stress distribution in the body of a large-volume piston-cylinder pressure cell for inelastic neutron scattering at 2 GPa
Stress distribution in the body of a large-volume piston-cylinder pressure cell for inelastic neutron scattering at 2 GPa