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Pioneering 3D Atomic Imaging for Clean Energy


Project Description

Nanoparticle catalysts are crucial for improving energy efficiency, reducing harmful emissions and the production of clean renewable energy via fuel cells. However, the performance of these materials is still limited because of a lack of detailed understanding of how the nanoparticle’s structure and composition change during the lifetime of the catalysts. In this project you will apply a recent development in atomic resolution three dimensional imaging of bimetallic nanoparticle catalysts [1] coupled with cutting edge in-situ instrumentation [2] to understand the changes that occur to nanoparticles in real reaction conditions. Only by understanding these changes can the efficiency and lifetime of catalysts be improved. This project therefore has a corresponding impact to bring down the cost of catalysts for fuel cells and motivate the widespread uptake of this green technology, which is an essential part of our wish to achieve a zero carbon future.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is one of the few tools able to directly study a nanoparticle catalyst’s structure and chemistry with atomic resolution and single atom sensitivity [3]. This project will take advantage of Manchester’s world leading TEM capabilities to image the structure and elemental distribution of nanoparticle catalysts during exposure to reactive gas and liquid environments and across a range of elevated temperatures, as experienced during catalysis. It will use cutting edge image processing and analysis techniques to provide new information on the redistribution of different elements in real time at elevated temperature. Working with colleagues in chemical engineering who are experts in catalysis and fuel cells (Prof Chris Hardacre and Prof Stuart Holmes) the nanoparticle systems studied can be adapted depending on the interests of the student and input of ongoing catalytic testing.

You will acquire a broad range of characterisation and analytical experimental skills. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with industry. It is expected that project will result in high impact publications in world leading journals and be presented by the successful student at international conferences. There will be opportunities to undertake experiments at national and international facilities.

Funding Notes

This project is being considered for DTA funding. This would provide a full fee waiver and a EPSRC standard stipend. International applicants are welcome to apply but will require access to self-funding.

References

References: [1] Wang, Y-C, Slater, TJA, et al 2019, Nano Letters, 19, 2, 732, [2] E. Prestat, et al, 2017, ChemPhysChem, 18, 16, 2151-2156 [3] Kelly et al. Nano Letters, (2018) 182, 1168-1174)

How good is research at The University of Manchester in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials?
Metallurgy and Materials

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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