Multiple technologies essential in the transition to net zero and renewables are underpinned by energy materials capable of transporting ions or electrons. Examples include batteries (lithium ion and electron transport), and electrolysers and fuel cells for green hydrogen or power generation (oxide ions, protons and electrons). The 'speed' or ease with which these charged species are transported across materials, typically quantified as ‘conductivity’, can strongly dictate device effectiveness. Examples include the charge/discharge rate of batteries, the energy efficiency of electrolysers and cost of hydrogen. Enhancing the conductivity of energy materials is therefore key to advancing several technologies to meet the ambitious net zero and green hydrogen production targets. Recently, our group has developed a nano-engineering concept potentially enabling dramatic gains in materials conductivity (https://doi.org/10.1002/aesr.202200054). The concept involves the controlled growth of nanoparticles within materials, at nanoscale proximity of each other. Our recent results indicate that nanoparticles distort the lattice of the host material, producing ‘highways’ of order-of-magnitude increase in conductivity.
This PhD project aims to demonstrate the utility of this concept across a wide range of energy materials, including electron, proton, and lithium ion conductors. This project will explore the design, characterisation, incorporation and application of these materials in respective devices. The project is thus highly multidisciplinary in scope, employing different structural and chemical characterisation methods, manufacturing and application testing procedures, and provide the candidate the opportunity to interact with world leading expert collaborators and institutions in the respective fields. This project builds on the ongoing multidisciplinary collaborative project between Strathclyde, TU Braunschweig and the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland, which seeks to quantify the impact of integrating these materials from device-level to grid-level (https://tinyurl.com/2cpva4vf)
In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.
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