We use solid-state chemistry methods to identify, synthesise and characterise new solid state materials that may underpin future energy technologies. The aim is to understand the relation between composition, structure and functional properties. Areas of interest are:
1. Thermoelectric Energy Conversion
This is a solid state method to convert heat into electricity (or vice versa) and should be considered an energy saving technology where waste heat from for example industrial processes is converted into electricity. The aim of the research is to discover materials with improved energy conversion efficiencies. Current research is focused on semiconducting intermetallic phases prepared via ultra-high temperature reactions.
Figure 1. Schematic of a thermoelectric power generation device with a TiCoSb half-Heusler intermetallic p-type leg.
2. High-Temperature Superconductors
Superconductors carry electrical currents without resistive losses and expel applied magnetic fields. This has potential uses in the electrical power grid and in electronics. Current applications include high-field magnets used in MRI and in Maglev trains. However, wide scale implementation has been limited as the operating temperatures of all known superconductors are well below room temperature. Our research is focused on the iron based high-Tc superconductors, which have critical temperatures up to 55 K.
Figure 2. Left: Zero resistance below 51 K for TbFeAsO0.9F0.1. Right: Crystal structure of the RFeAs(O,F) high-Tc superconductors (R = rare-earth).
3. Electrocatalysts for Water Splitting
The current bottleneck in the splitting of water is the dioxygen formation reaction. Our research is focussed on developing improved electrocatalysts for this reaction by studying a variety of transition metal oxides.
Figure 3. Electrochemical oxidation of water using a catalyst, e.g. RuO2.