Dr Ainara Aguadero
Five minutes with Dr Ainara Aguadero, Lecturer in Materials
My research group and I work in the area of material discovery for energy applications."
1. Tell us about your research in a nutshell
My research group and I work in the area of material discovery for energy applications.
Specifically, our research focuses on the development of materials with improved transport and catalytic properties for solid electrochemical devices such as batteries, fuel cells and electrolysers. This research covers a wide range of aspects of materials discovery and characterisation. This includes tailoring the defect chemistry, crystal structure and microstructure of the materials to improve ion dynamics in bulk, surfaces and interfaces and the study of degradation processes.
For this we have a lot of specialised facilities in the Materials department helping us to excel, such as the surface analysis lab, low-ion energy scattering equipment, a secondary-ion mass spectrometer etc. All these instruments not only allow us to analyse local chemical compositions but also help us quantify the transport of ionic species in surfaces, buried interfaces and in the bulk of materials.
We have recently been awarded an EPSRC strategic equipment grant to develop a globally unique dual secondary-ion mass spectrometer called High Five. This is going to allow us increased resolution, sensitivity, in situ control, ultra high vacuum and ion sectioning in a single instrument. This will enable the highest impact fundamental and applied science in the energy sector between others.
2. What impact can your research have outside of the lab, especially for industry?
The kind of work we are doing in my group aims at ... developing materials with improved properties. In this regard, we join more applied work to the study of fundamental processes."
Batteries nowadays have big problems of safety and energy density; we have seen this in “exploding phones”, for example. Similar problems also exist for the development of a new generation of green, electrified transport, which will have a huge impact in safeguarding the environment. The kind of work we are doing in my group aims directly at solving these issues by developing materials with improved properties. In this regard, we join more applied work to the study of fundamental processes, the knowledge of which is crucial for the rational design of the final application.
At the end of the day, energy is something that is crucially important anyway and the need for cleaner, safer conversion and storage systems will only increase with time. My team’s work can have huge implications socially, especially if society continues its cultural shift away from its dependence on fossil fuels and towards a cleaner environment. My work is motivated a great deal by this.
3. Who/what sectors would be interested in hearing more about your research?
Clean, flexible and efficient energy storage technologies will play a significant role in the transition to a low carbon economy finding application in sectors such as:
- E-Mobility and Transport
- Electronic devices
- Renewable energy
- Stationary energy storage applications for the Infrastructure sector