School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Development and characterization of new energy materials

Supervisor: Dr Isaac Abrahams

Project description

There is a clear and urgent need for alternatives to fossil fuel driven power sources to address not only the global dependence on this limited resource, but also to reduce CO2 emission in both stationary and transport applications. The proven technology behind solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and lithium batteries give them huge potential in this respect, provided that key issues can be overcome to make the technology affordable on a global scale. The development of new electrode and electrolyte materials for these devices is therefore a key research target, in which characterisation of the structure-conductivity relationships plays an important role.

This project will involve both synthesis and the characterisation of new classes of materials for potential application as electrolytes or electrodes in electrochemical power sources such as intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells and lithium batteries. The focus of the characterization studies will be on establishing the local-structure and how it is correlated to electrical behaviour. This will involve techniques such as a.c. impedance spectroscopy, X-ray and neutron diffraction and solid state NMR. Investigations of local structure will be carried out using Reverse Monte Carlo (RMC) modelling of total X-ray and neutron scattering data. In disordered materials this approach allows for elucidation of both the long-range and short-range structure using a single model. Full training will be given in these methods.

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