The ability to disperse nanoparticles on the surface of materials has revolutionised surface science and catalysis, speeding up a wide range of chemical reactions of great practical importance. Dispersing nanoparticles within the bulk of materials instead is synthetically much more challenging and therefore less explored but could prove to be just as revolutionary for speeding up transport properties throughout the bulk. Indeed, materials exhibiting high electron, ion or heat transport across the bulk underpin a wide range of energy conversion technologies including fuel cells, electrolysis cell, photovoltaics, thermoelectrics etc.
Recently, a new method for the preparation of such systems has been discovered. The method, referred to as redox exsolution, enables extensive, controlled growth of metallic nanoparticles, at nanoscale proximity, inside an oxide lattice (endo-particles) as well as on its surface (exo-particles).The endo-particles and the surrounding lattice become mutually strained and seamlessly connected, enabling enhanced oxygen exchange and opening intriguing new possibility for strain engineering of transport properties of materials.
This PhD project will explore the design, characterisation and application of exsolved materials for power-to-X energy conversion devices where X can be fuels, chemicals, heat or power, all essential for transitioning to a clean, sustainable energy economy.
The project is thus highly multidisciplinary in scope, employing different structural and chemical characterisation methods, manufacturing and application testing procedures, and will provide the candidate with the opportunity to interact with world leading expert collaborators and institutions in the respective fields.
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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