Nanotechnology and Nanoscale Characterisation
Our research encompasses nanotechnology, nanoscience and nanoscale characterisation. We design and construct materials and devices with molecular and atomic precision, at dimensions ranging from nanometres to micrometres. The scope of our investigations is broad; it extends from electrochemical energy conversion, catalysis, nanoelectronics and bioengineering to molecular recognition and self-assembly of nanostructures and devices.
- We fabricate nanomaterials using a combination of: bottom-up chemical methods such as electrodeposition and atomic layer deposition; and top-down methods such as a magnetron nanoparticle source, sputter deposition, chemical vapour deposition, and pulsed laser deposition. We are currently in the process of expanding the means by which we fabricate materials through the new equipment being installed as part of the Royce Institute.
- We test the functionality of nanomaterials in a wide range of components and devices, from the implants in the human body to the electrodes of batteries, fuel cells, electrolysers and supercapacitors. For instance, as part of the Faraday Institution, we are elucidating the nanoscale processes that give rise to Li battery degradation. On this basis, we are developing strategies to extend battery lifetime. Moreover, batteries typically employ scarce or toxic metals at their electrodes; our research aims to discover more sustainable methods to recycle these metals, through the RELAB project. The focus of our work on perovskite solar cells is to understand how the processing conditions control the functionality.
- We characterise nanomaterials using state-of-the-art techniques, including: photoelectron spectroscopy to probe electronic structure, chemical state and composition of materials, both under vacuum and at ambient pressures; synchrotron based X-ray methods to monitor the interaction of materials with aggressive chemical environments, from oil pipelines to electrochemical energy conversion devices; transmission electron microscopy to probe composition and structure at the nanometre scale. By correlating these techniques, we obtain a holistic overview of the materials’ structure, composition and chemical state. We leverage our capacity to characterise materials through long-standing links with the London Centre for Nanotechnology, the EPSRC’s Centre for Doctoral Training in the Advanced Characterisation of Materials, and Diamond Light Source, and, further afield with Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and the European Synchotron Radiation Facility.
Our research makes a profound impact on real technological applications. Our investigations on H2O2 production directly led to the establishment of the spin-off HPNow. We also collaborate extensively with companies including Johnson Matthey, ROLI, EnviroWales and Shell.
Network and centres across Imperial
|Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering
The Institute transcends disciplinary boundaries and brings together Imperial's world class engineers, scientists, clinicians and business researchers to find innovative molecular-based science and engineering solutions to grand challenges facing our world
| Centre for Plastic Electronics
The Centre for Plastic Electronics' mission is to actively stimulate new, cutting-edge, high-impact research and to meet Imperial’s strategic intent to harness the strengths and breadth of our research to address the global challenges of climate change, energy and global health and security.
| Energy Futures Lab (EFL)
Providing a secure and sustainable energy supply for the future is one of today's key issues. The Energy Futures Lab is addressing this issue by supporting research teams at Imperial College London and beyond to work together.
|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
Professor Martyn McLachlan
Professor Martyn McLachlan is a Professor of Thin Films, Interfaces and Electronic Devices in the Department of Materials. 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.
Professor David Payne
Professor David Payne is a Professor of Materials Chemistry in the Department of Materials.
His research is currently focussing on the investigation of the electronic structure of functional oxide materials, particularly the oxides of the post-transition metals.
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.
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.
She is a member of the International Society of Electrochemistry, the Electrochemical Society and the UK Institute of Corrosion.
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.
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
Dr Ifan Stephens
Dr Ifan Stephens is a Reader in Electrochemistry 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:
electrolysis for the storage of renewable electricity — which is inherently intermittent — in the form of fuels, such as hydrogen or alcohols.
fuel cells as a potentially zero emission source of power for automotive vehicles.
the green synthesis of valuable chemicals, such as H2O2.
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.