Oxide-ion conductors for energy and environmental applications
Oxide-ion conductors are key components in energy-related (solid oxide fuel cells) and environmental applications (gas sensors/separation membranes). Our work in the last few years has led to some of the best materials in the temperature range targeted for applications (400-600oC). The objectives of this PhD are to: 1. optimise these and synthesise/characterise new/related materials, 2. characterise the structures and the dynamics on these materials in ceramic and single crystal form, 3. test the performance of selected materials in devices.
This will be achieved through one fundamental and one applied research strand.
In the first strand, materials will be prepared and characterised to gain an atomic-level understanding of the structure and properties. Experimental work will be underpinned my simulations: molecular dynamics calculations will provide atomic-level insight into the oxide-ion diffusion pathways, the directionality and the anisotropic nature of conductivity (essential for thin-film growth for devices). Calculations will be supported by observations of oxide-ion diffusion by methods which probe dynamics on different length-scales - impedance spectroscopy and inelastic neutron scattering. Both will be done on sintered ceramic samples (with spatial information is averaged out) and on oriented single crystals grown in-house using the floating zone method (to provide information about anisotropy).
In the second strand, the obtained evidence about the facile conductivity directions will be used to inform thin-film growth of promising materials. The aim will be to characterise them and test their performance in devices (fuel cells, functional membranes). Parts of this work will be carried out through collaborations via the Royal Society – Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship recently awarded to IRE.
Start date: October 2019; Duration: 39 months.
Essential qualifications: 1st or 2:1 class MChem, MPhys, MSci degree in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or Natural Sciences. (Applicants with other qualifications may be considered on an individual basis.)