Henry Royce Institute

Royce @ Oxford

The Henry Royce Institute is the UK's national institute for materials science research and innovation and has been established to develop and exploit the UK’s world-leading excellence in advanced materials research. It is made up of nine leading materials research institutions the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, the National Nuclear Laboratory and UKAEA with the hub at the University of Manchester.

Oxford Royce focuses on Energy Storage materials such as batteries, supercapacitors and thermoelectrics to solve the material challenges involved in the all-solid-state battery. Better energy storage materials are required for the electrification of transport and for decarbonisation of the grid. This could transform the safety of Li-ion batteries, enable the use of lithium metal electrodes delivering a step-change in energy density, and lead to safe electric vehicles with a driving range of more than 300 miles and faster charging. The global market in lithium batteries is growing exponentially, and forecast to reach £50bn in 2020. It is anticipated that the UK will require the equivalent of two gigafactories for electric vehicles alone by 2025.

Oxford University Department of Materials hosts a suite of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment focused on the analysis of energy materials and the development of next generation energy storage solutions.  The Oxford-Royce has a number of advanced tools that cover a broad spectrum of materials manufacture, characterisation and testing.  All Oxford-Royce supported and funded equipment is available for use by academic and industrial researchers and is supported by support scientists based in a range of settings within the Department of Materials including the David Cockayne Centre for Electron Microscopy, the Oxford Materials Characterisation Service, the Atom Probe Group and the research group of Professor Peter Bruce, FRS, FRSE. A complete listing of Royce facilities at Oxford can be found on the Equipment pages of the Royce website.

Currently the Royce is offering funding to support the academic and industrial communities and help drive materials innovation.  There is funding to support equipment use by SMEs and spinouts and by PhD students.

Please contact royce.access@materials.ox.ac.uk or email Robin Morris (robin.morris@materials.ox.ac.uk) for more information on the Oxford Royce facilities.

Atom Probe Tomography – Case Study

Cooperation between Royce Partners at Manchester and Oxford enabled multi-correlative analysis of irradiation-induced nanoprecipitation in Zirconium alloys, utilising equipment from the Royce catalogue that provides chemical and optical characterisation information at different scales.

Researchers combined three methods of characterisation at different scales to understand the effects of proton irradiation on zirconium alloys commonly used in cladding and structural components of reactor cores. Iron and Chromium-rich rod-like formations were observed in a Zirconium alloy (Zircaloy-2) following proton irradiation. Correlative analysis in Atom Probe Tomography, electron diffraction and scanning transmission electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray (STEM-EDX) revealed the rod morphology, crystallography, dimensions and composition, with good agreement between all three techniques.

For further details read the paper from the Journal of Nuclear Materials November 2018 and the Royce Institute Case Study webpage.

This research has implications for irradiation-induced growth and hardening in Zirconium alloys, providing a unique insight into the nanoscale irradiation response of these materials, vital to predict future performance and to assist with future alloy design.

Crystallographic orientation of nanoprecipitates in Zircalloy2