Nanotechnology and nanoscale characterisation
Research Staff by core themes

"Let's make heat capture the new recycling" WATCH Professor Mary Ryan FREng at the World Economic Forum 2016

"Let's make heat capture the new recycling" - Professor Mary Ryan FREng at the World Economic Forum 2016

Nanotechnology is concerned with design and construction of materials and devices with molecular and atomic precision, at dimensions ranging nanometres to micrometres. Its influence extends from fields as diverse as nano-electronics and bioengineering to molecular recognition and self-assembly of nanostructures and devices.

The nanomaterials theme in the Department of Materials encompasses fundamental studies of nanoscale systems, processing of nanomaterials and nanoscale characterisation.

Substantial EPSRC support has been awarded to obtain instruments to characterise at the nanoscale: a TOF-SIMS LEIS system and an Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectrometer.  The applications of nanomaterials in photovoltaics has been a major activity in the Department with Professor Mary Ryan and Professor Jason Riley attracting government support in the form of a TSB Technology Programme, EPSRC Grand Challenge and EPSRC SUPERGEN . Links with the biological fields are growing with significant programmes on the impact of engineered nanomaterials on human health and the environment.

Research projects:

Research projects within Nanotechnology and Nanoscale Characterisation include:

  • Nanoparticle transformations in the environment
  • Developing nanotechnology for water splitting
  • In-situ spectro-microscopy of nanoscale reactions
  • Correlation of electron and X-ray spectroscopies in nanoscale systems
  • A hybrid nanoparticle-liposome assay for measuring phospholipase activity
  • Bio responsive nanomaterials
  • Cadmium selenide nanoparticles for antibodybased sensors
  • Chemistry, structure and bonding in high-k gate oxide stacks
  • Correlation of electron and X-ray tomography of porous materials
  • Counting atoms
  • Cytotoxicity of ZnO nanowires using a correlative microscopy strategy
  • Degradation behaviour of nanocrystalline metals
  • Determination of surface and interface processes in materials science
  • Development of model hybrid solar cells
  • Doped magnetic ZnO p-n junction heterostructures for nano-spintronic devices
  • Electrodeposition of ZnO for photovoltaic applications
  • Fabrication and characterisation of quantum dot sensitised photoanodes
  • Fabrication of nanorods on the industrial scale
  • Formation of magnetically-doped ZnO nanostructures by solution deposition processes
  • High-resolution electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) of plasmonic nanostructures
  • Imaging alzheimer’s plaques inside cells using a Se-labelling strategy
  • In situ electrical biasing of novel nanostructures in the TEM
  • Investigations of monolayer protected metal nanoparticle systems and their biological interactions
  • Multisegmented nanorods for optical applications
  • Nanomaterials for hybrid photovoltaic applications
  • Nanostructured materials for SERS-active substrates
  • Nanoparticles in suspension: effect of shape and size on rheological behaviour of high volume fraction  suspension
  • New routes to optimised multiferroics
  • Size effects in nanoscale dielectric materials
  • The biostability and toxicological potential of carbon nanotubes inside cells
  • The TITAN at Imperial College London
  • Using surface enhanced raman scattering for single molecule detection.

Network and centres across Imperial

London Centre for Nanotechnology logo London Centre for Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology lies at the heart of many of the challenges facing society today, from energy to health. The Centre has close ties with we work closely within the scientific community in London, through our medical campuses and the London Centre for Nanotechnology (a joint venture with UCL), as well as the Thomas Young Centre (The London Centre for Theory and Simulation of Materials).

Nanotechnology and Nanoscale Characterisation Staff

Dr Angela Goode


Dr Angela Goode is a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Materials. Her research focuses on characterising structural and electronic properties of nanoscale systems, in order to gain a more fundamental understanding of the origin of their functional properties. Using correlative electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), she studies a wide range of materials systems, from nanoparticles undergoing biodegradation or corrosion to more beam-sensitive organic small molecules and carbon nanotubes.

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Dr Martyn McLachlan

Dr Martyn McLachlan is a Reader in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London. He is a member of the Centre for Plastic Electronics at Imperial College London. 

His current research is focused on the preparation of metal oxide-polymer composites, primarily for photovoltaic applications but extending to light-emitting and transistor applications. His research group is interested in the controlled formation of planar, 2D and 3D thin films.

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Research project titleFunding bodyStart date
Interfaces in Opto-electronic Thin Film Multilayer Devices Commission of the European Communities Sep 2015
Dr David Payne active research porfolio

Dr David Payne

Dr David Payne is a Reader in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London.

His research is currently focussing on the investigation of the electronic structure of functional oxide materials, particularly the oxides of the post-transition metals.

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Research project titleFunding bodyStart date
Reduced Energy Recycling of Lead Acid Batteries (RELAB) Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) Dec 2016
Dr David Payne active research porfolio

Professor Jason Riley

Professor Jason Riley is Professor of Materials Electrochemistry in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London.

Professor Riley’s research activity concerns the preparation, characterisation and applications of nanomaterials.  Colloid chemistry, anodization and templated deposition are employed to obtain materials of defined dimension.    The as-prepared particles are characterised and then deposited on substrates to yield surface coatings with well defined architecture.  The electrochemistry and photoelectrochemistry of electrodes modified using such techniques are investigated.

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Professor Mary Ryan FREng

Professor Mary Ryan FREng is Professor of Materials Science and Nanotechnology in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London.

Her current research is in the area of applied electrochemistry and corrosion, with a focus on deposition of nanostructures and the study of self-forming nanocrystalline oxides; as well as fundamental work on degradation and stability of metal systems.  

Her most recent work, which has attracted much media attention, has been to advise on methods to preserve the recently discovered Dornier - the 'Flying Pencil'.  Her work on corrosion attracts particular interest from the oil and gas sector.

Her most recent work, which has attracted much media attention, has been to advise on methods to preserve the recently discovered Dornier - the 'Flying Pencil'.  Her work on corrosion attracts particular interest from the oil and gas sector. - See more at:

She is a member of the International Society of Electrochemistry, the Electrochemical Society and the UK Institute of Corrosion

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Research project titleFunding bodyStart date
Improving the Reliability, Longevity and Lifetime Performance of Magnetic Cooling Technology Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) Nov 2016
Stress Corrosion Cracking and Hydrogen Embrittlement in Bromide Containing Environments BP International Limited Nov 2016
Shell Advanced Interfacial Materials Sciences Centre Shell Global Solutions International BV Jan 2016
Understanding Scaling and Corrosion in Sour Gas Pipelines Qatar Shell Research and Technology Center QSTP LL July 2015
Professor Mary Ryan active research porfolio

Professor Milo Shaffer

Professor Milo Shaffer is Professor of Materials Chemistry in the Department of Materials and the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, and is co-Director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology.

He has extensive experience of carbon and inorganic nanomaterials synthesis, modification, characterisation, and application, particularly for nanocomposite and hierarchical systems, including both structural matrices and conducting polymers for electrochemical and photovoltaic applications. Notable recent work includes new, patented methods for the dispersion, surface functionalisation and characterisation of carbon nanomaterials, and new approaches to the synthesis of functionalised oxide nanoparticles in situ. In general, exploitation of nanomaterials is limited by difficulties in synthesis and processing, and research focuses on these problems

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Dr Ifan Stephens

Dr Ifan Stephens is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Materials. His research aims to enable the large-scale electrochemical conversion of renewable energy to fuels and valuable chemicals and vice versa. Such processes will be critical in order to allow the increased uptake of renewable energy. 

His focus is on the catalyst at the electrode, i.e. the electrocatalyst. It turns out that the electrocatalyst material defines the efficiency of several important electrochemical processes, including:

  1. electrolysis for the storage of renewable electricity — which is inherently intermittent — in the form of fuels, such as hydrogen or alcohols.
  2. fuel cells as a potentially zero emission source of power for automotive vehicles.
  3. the green synthesis of valuable chemicals, such as H2O2.
  4. batteries, which tend to degrade by gas evolution at the electrode-electrolyte interface. Hence the reactions that need to be accelerated in electrolysers and fuel cells — such as CO2, CO, O2 and H2 evolution — are precisely those that need to be inhibited in batteries.

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