Recent News

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CFAS equipment

16th February 2017

Centre for Applied Superconductivity: new PLD and MFM equipment

The Centre for Applied Superconductivity welcomes two new major experimental facilities which extend our capabilities in the synthesis and characterisation of superconducting materials: a Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) system and a low-temperature Magnetic Force Microscope (MFM).

The PLD is a versatile tool for thin film growth of a wide range of materials and initially it will be used to explore the growth of novel superconducting nitride films for quantum device applications.

The MFM is a high resolution tool for imaging the local magnetic properties of materials. It operates within a cryostat at temperatures down to 4K, with a 7T/3T superconducting vector magnet providing a versatile environment for investigating magnetic flux line interactions in superconducting materials.

Stephen Heidari-Robinson

7th December 2016

Senior Research Fellow in Energy Technology and Policy

The department is delighted to welcome Mr Stephen Heidari-Robinson as an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in Energy Technology and Policy. Stephen has first-hand experience of setting national energy policy as the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron's energy and environment personal adviser.  In this role, he was one of the architects of the UK's energy generation strategy and decarbonisation plan, and he supported Secretary of State for Energy, Amber Rudd, at the Paris climate talks (COP21).  Stephen is a strong advocate for the pressing need for electric vehicles (EV) to improve local air quality and to reduce global carbon emissions, and he will work with groups in the department and across the University to accelerate EV implementation. Stephen spent 9 years as a leader in McKinsey and Company's energy practice and was a vice president at Schlumberger, one of the world's leading oil field services and technology company.


8th September 2016

electron Physical Science Imaging Centre (ePSIC) opening ceremony

A pioneering new centre for the study of nanoscale materials involving the Department has opened on the Harwell Science Campus, boosting the UK's world-leading science and technology infrastructure. ePSIC's two state-of-the-art electron microscopes will provide top-of-the-line resolution down to 0.5 Angstroms for research groups looking to determine the atomic structure and characteristics of technologically important materials.

Read full Department of Materials News article.

Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp

22nd August 2016

Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp

Recently graduated doctoral student Jing Hu was one of only 25 students worldwide selected to attend the 1st Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp at Berkeley in August 2016. Jing comments “The bootcamp was amazing. I’ve learnt so much in the two weeks” You can also watch her team make their group pitch at the closing ceremony.

The movement of Dislocations in aluminium foil

14th August 2016

Royal Society Archive: Lawrence Bragg’s Films

The Royal Society has released some films about and featuring Sir William Lawrence Bragg (including his son), one of which features the research of this Department's Professor Sir Peter Hirsch and Professor Mike Whelan  entitled "The movement of dislocations in aluminium foils".

The Bragg film archive also includes films of the classic bubble-raft model of close packing in metal crystals.

Nuclear Research Group Photo

28th June 2016

Advanced Nuclear Materials Platform Grant

A team led by Professor Steve Roberts has been awarded a 4 year, £1.3M Platform Grant by the EPSRC. The grant will be used to underpin the strength and activities of the department’s team of over fifty researchers working on advanced structural materials for applications in nuclear fission and fusion reactors. The funding will enable us to support early-career postdoctoral researchers (ECRs) in a flexible manner tailored to their individual career trajectories, resources for mentorship, opportunities for new skills training, and allow ECRs to develop their own research ideas. 

Clustering in W

14th March 2016

Distinguished Scientist Award

Congratulations to Professor George Smith FRS who has been honoured as the 2016 Distinguished Scientist in Physical Science of the Microscopy Society of America. George will receive his award at Microscopy & Microanalysis 2016 meeting in Columbus, Ohio USA on July 25, followed by a plenary address. 

Professor Smith's talk will cover recent atom probe tomography studies of irradiated tungsten, and in particular the issue of transmutation products that arise when tungsten is exposed to neutron bombardment. The key reaction products (in decreasing order) are Re, Os and Ta. Re is known to form clusters (and eventually precipitates) which embrittle the materials. It turns out that Os substantially enhances the clustering process, while Ta inhibits it.  Such studies of ternary (and eventually quaternary) alloys are vital to the development of safe and reliable materials for eventual fusion energy systems.  


PRACE logo

24th February 2016

Ab-initio Design of Perovskite Photovoltaics

The Materials Modelling and Design group has been granted a PRACE DECI-13 project that provides direct access to Cartesius, the Dutch national supercomputer. This facility will be used to perform state-of-the-art numerical simulations focused on the design of new, improved materials for solar cell applications. PRACE is among Europe’s highest performing computing partnerships, accessible through a peer-review process. The award will accelerate the department’s research in solar material design and will further demonstrate the concept of 'in silico’ design of novel materials, which recently lead directly to the filing of a UK patent on more environmentally compatible perovskite solar cells.

Peter Bruce

20th January 2016

Highly Cited Researcher

The ISI Highly Cited Researchers list identifies those researchers who publish the highest number of papers in the one per cent most cited papers in a particular research area. The new December 2015 list shows that Professor Peter Bruce FRS, Wolfson Chair of Materials and an expert in materials for energy storage is one of the most highly cited researchers in chemistry. Oxford University has more highly cited researchers in the new list than any other UK university.

Learn about Professor Peter Bruce's research and the future of batteries in this interview for the YouTube channel Fully Charged, presented by Robert Llewellyn.

QuEEN transistor

21st December 2015

Programme Grant: Quantum Effects in Electronic Nanodevices

EPSRC has awarded a Programme Grant for Quantum Effects in Electronic Nanodevices (QuEEN) to Andrew Briggs, Lapo Bogani, and Jan Mol, with Harry Anderson FRS in the Department of Chemistry and Colin Lambert at Lancaster University. The programme will be for six years, starting in January 2016.

Up to six postdoctoral appointments are available. Details are at A separate application must be made for each post. The closing date for all the posts is noon on Wednesday 6 January 2016.

Figure illustrates a molecular transistor: a Functionalised porphyrin molecule; b single-molecule device; c simulation of molecular orbitals; d differential conductance dI/dVg (logarithmic scale) as a function of bias voltage and gate voltage for a single porphyrin molecule. The Coulomb diamonds result from changes of a single electron in the charge state of the molecule. Lines parallel to the diamond edges are due to excited state transitions. Although this device was measured at 20 mK, the range of bias voltage indicates suitability for room temperature operation, which we have separately confirmed.

Electronic devices, when shrunk to the molecular scale, display prominent quantum effects. Within the QuEEN programme we shall develop the scientific understanding and technological know-how needed to exploit these quantum effects for reduced-energy computing, molecular recognition, universal memory and thermoelectric recovery of energy. Our research will concentrate on the underpinning science of stable and reproducible devices, consisting of single molecules connected to graphene electrodes, with the potential for scalable production. We aim to harness quantum interference in these devices by pursuing five complementary research challenges:

  1. How can quantum interference in a molecule be controlled by an electrostatic gate?
  2. Can spintronic effects provide superior molecular devices?
  3. Can quantum interference be used to achieve high thermoelectric effects?
  4. What are the performance limits for a single-molecule transistor?
  5. Can we make single molecule devices that work in ambient conditions?

The QuEEN programme combines chemical synthesis, nanofabrication, measurement, and theory, and integrates these different areas of expertise. QuEEN has a distinguished international Board and a range of industrial partners from local enterprises to established global firms.