Department of Materials News 2014

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John Pethica

16th June 2014

Sir John Pethica FRS FREng

Many congratulations to Visiting Professor Sir John Pethica FRS, knighted in the Birthday Honours List for Services to Science.

30th May 2014

Book on Materials Modelling using Density Functional Theory by Feliciano Giustino

Feliciano Giustino just published a book with Oxford University Press, entitled 'Materials Modelling using Density Functional Theory: Properties and Prediction'. This book is an introduction to the modern quantum theory of materials, and primarily addresses senior undergraduates and first-year graduate students in Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, and Chemistry. Atomistic materials modelling is becoming an important component of undergraduate education in Materials Science, and at Oxford Materials we have 3 lecture courses on this topic.

While most books in this subject area are for a specialized audience, the book by Prof. Giustino is intended primarily for an undergraduate readership. The book explains the fundamental ideas of density-functional theory, and how this theory can be used as a powerful method for explaining and even predicting the properties of materials with a stunning accuracy.

The book is available from the OUP catalogue in paperback, hardcover, and eBook version.

1st May 2014

New SUPERGEN Hub to set UK’s energy storage course

A new, £4 million, collaboration between academics and industry that will set the direction and development of research and technologies in Energy Storage, was unveiled today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme.

The SUPERGEN Energy Storage Hub will draw experts together from seven universities and fourteen industrial and governmental partners. They will address the technical and scientific challenges facing the wide variety of energy storage techniques.

Led by Professor Peter Bruce FRS based at the University of Oxford, the Hub will develop a shared vision for energy storage in the UK by developing the first integrated national roadmap for energy storage by engaging with the wider community.

Welcoming the funding Professor Bruce said: “Energy storage is more important today than at any time in human history. It has a vital role to play in storing electricity from renewable sources and is key to the electrification of transport. The SUPERGEN Hub will be working with industry, government and the education system to improve the performance of electrochemical, mechanical and thermal devices, develop and tested new materials and optimize thermodynamic processes. All against a background of robust integrated systems.”

The Hub will work with its industrial partners to accelerate the pull through of research to scale up, prototyping and commercialisation.

Philip Nelson EPSRC’s CEO said: “Developing efficient energy storage technologies and infrastructure is crucial to decarbonising and strengthening our energy system and security. Working with industry, this new SUPERGEN Hub will move the UK closer to where it needs to be for a safer, more sustainable future.”

Universities involved in the Hub are:

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Bath
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Warwick

Kyriakos Porfyrakis

14th April 2014

New Spin-out to Manufacture Designer Spherical Nanomaterials

Isis Innovation, the University of Oxford’s technology commercialisation company,  has established a new spinout company, Designer Carbon Materials, based on research from Dr Kyriakos Porfyrakis. The new company will cost-effectively manufacture commercially useful quantities of the spherical carbon cage structures known as fullerenes or bucky-balls for a range of applications.

Tom Hockaday, managing director of Isis Innovation, said: “This is a great example of an Isis spin-out which is both looking at exciting future applications for its technology and also answering a real market need. There is already significant demand for these nanomaterials and we expect the first customer orders will be fulfilled over the next few months.”

 Update December 2015: 


Atom Probe Workshop April 2014

7th April 2014

Atom Probe Workshop for Prof George Smith FRS

On 7th and 8th April 2014 an Atom Probe Workshop was held in the Department of Materials in celebration of Professor George Smith’s research over the past 50 years leading the Atom Probe research group.

The workshop was attended by many international colleagues and leaders in the field of Atom Probe Tomography, as shown in the workshop photograph.

The workshop culminated with Professor George Smith presenting the biannual Hume-Rothery Lecture entitled "Some atoms I have known".  The lecture was recorded and will shortly be available on the podcasts website at

Photo: Greg Smolenski

17th January 2014

Chancellor visits laboratories at Begbroke to announce £67m boost to Oxford Innovation

On Tuesday 28 January 2014, the UK's Chancellor, George Osborne announced that 4 business ‘incubator’ centres in Oxford will between them receive £67 million of investment to develop world leading science technology. The government will provide £30 million to be complemented by industry, Local Authorities and Universities, taking the total to over £67 million for the area.

Visiting the Begbroke Science Park and the Advanced Procesing Laboratory, along with Nicola Blackwood MP, the Chancellor announced over £4million of funding to build a new ‘Innovation Accelerator’ for small high tech manufacturing businesses that specialise in robotics, parts for car and jet engines and superfast computers. The project, which will be funded by government and additional funding from Oxford University, will support researchers to get their products ready for market.

Commenting on the funding for Begbroke, Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: "Oxfordshire is already a powerhouse of innovation and wealth creation – it was recently ranked amongst the world’s top five ‘hotspots’ for innovation – and it is crucial that we build on the region’s unique strengths. Creating a regional environment in which entrepreneurial activity can thrive is good for Oxfordshire and good for Oxford University in its mission to continue to attrct the best students and researchers from around the world."

Peter Bruce FRS

9th January 2014

Peter Bruce appointed to the Wolfson Chair

The Department is delighted to welcome Peter Bruce FRS as the new Wolfson Professor of Materials. Peter is an internationally distinguished scientist working on energy materials, including those for lithium batteries, and will be establishing his research team in purpose built laboratories during the first half of 2014. We are looking forward to a major expansion of our activities in materials for energy under Peter’s leadership, and many exciting new projects at the interface between Chemistry and Materials Science.
Fusion CDT

9th January 2014

Centre for Doctoral Training in the Science and Technology of Fusion Energy

A new Centre for Doctoral Training on Fusion was one of 19 new CDT's announced on 9th January by the Science Minister. The CDT will expand the department's activities in Nuclear Materials and will build upon the existing Doctoral Training Network in Fusion. Universities in addition to Oxford are Durham, Liverpool, Manchester and the leader York. These universities will also be working in close collaboration with national labs (CCFE, RAL, AWE and NNL) as well as internationally (ITER and F4E). Also the CDT will benefit from world-class facilities in the UK (Orion, CLF, MAST, JET) and overseas to train the generation of scientists/engineers who will play leading roles on the new international facilities, positioning the UK to be amongst the first to benefit from fusion power.

League Table

8th January 2014

Oxford Materials tops the Guardian's University guide 2014

The University of Oxford's Department of Materials tops the subject ranking for Engineering: Materials and Mineral in the Guardian's University Guide 2014. The Guide is based on the things students care most about when they are choosing a course.