Nano Energy Materials

The search for green alternative sources of energy is of great importance. To battle increasing climate change created by the use of fossil fuels, and in order to meet UK's 2050 targets, new alternative technologies and materials must be developed. To address this need, energy research in the School of Engineering and Materials Science is focussed on the development of new nanostructured materials and new synthesis routes to produce those materials. This encompasses essential technologies for the key aspects of a future sustainable energy infrastructure: sustainable energy conversion and energy storage, as well as those that combine both of these elements. The research areas are shown in the diagram below.

A particular theme that runs through much of this research is the desire to produce materials with excellent functionality by drawing on novel behaviours, particularly through the use of nanostructured materials, while simultaneously ensuring materials and processes are used that facilitate future scale-up; for example the avoidance of expensive or toxic materials such as noble metals and lead, and a focus on scalable processing such as electrospinning, printing and chemical vapour deposition.

The expertise in this area spans a wide variety of material types and processing routes from organics to composites and ceramics, and solution-based to solid-state-processing. Examples include:

  • organic, hybrid and composite materials for flexible and printable thermoelectrics (www.organicthermoelectric.com);
  • electrospun, sustainable carbon-based freestanding electrodes for energy storage applications;
  • lead-free relaxor ferroelectrics for dielectric capacitors;
  • photovoltaic and photocatalytic properties of nanostructured ferroelectrics;
  • nanostructured and composite-based piezoelectric energy harvesters.