The depletion of natural resources and negative environmental effects associated with current energy creation and consumption underpin fundamental societal challenges, namely decreasing air quality and climate change. These challenges can be partly overcome but moving towards clean, low cost and sustainable energy sources and producing ‘low power’ electronic devices, i.e. low-carbon technologies. In the MCAG we produce nanoscale materials (with at least one dimension below 100 nm) for use in energy efficient electronic, optoelectronic and energy storage and harvesting devices. We focus on manipulating the growth, shape and defects in nanoscale materials for devices that include energy efficient transistors used in computers, the conversion of waste heat into electricity, batteries for energy storage and generating hydrogen as a fuel from sunlight and water.
Figure 1: Nanoscale Materials
Central to the group’s research is the combination of 'bottom-up' growth methods, e.g. chemical vapour deposition, with 'top-down' etching techniques, e.g. uv-lithography. We also use simple solution based synthetic methods for producing large quantities of nanomaterials, primarly for the energy applications. The materials we are currently investigating include semiconductor nanowires and nanorods, porous metal oxide films, functional carbon materials, polymer thin films and two dimensional metal chalcogenides. Within the group a variety of electron microscopy and surface techniques are used to characterise the bulk and surface properties of nanomaterials, such as transmission electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy techniques.