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Materials and Energy

Focused on the application of experimental and computational techniques to understand fundamental properties of materials, the development of new techniques for investigating properties of materials, and the advancement of industrial applications of materials particularly in relation to energy sectors.

Research within the Materials and Energy Research Section is focused on understanding fundamental properties of materials, developing new experimental and computational techniques for investigating these properties, and advancing applications of materials particularly in relation to energy.

Fundamental research is focused on understanding structure and dynamics of a range of crystalline materials, gaining fundamental insights on crystallization processes, investigating structural and dynamic properties of soft matter, and advancing new experimental techniques for materials characterization (particularly relating to powder X-ray diffraction, in situ solid-state NMR and X-ray birefringence).

Applied research is focused on the development of materials for use in energy applications (including carbon capture, the design and synthesis of materials for hydrogen storage, fuel cells and catalysts for the enhanced production of biofuels) and on polymer therapeutics.


The main current directions of research in the Materials and Energy Research Grouping are as follows:

Fundamentals of materials

  • Chemistry and physics of solid inclusion compounds, focusing on incommensurate structures, dynamic properties and crystal growth mechanisms.
  • Fundamentals of crystallization processes and polymorphism.
  • Computational studies to yield new insights on structural and electronic phase transitions, chemical reactions in solids, crystallization and diffusion of impurities/defects in materials.
  • Physicochemical characterization of macromolecules in solution, particularly the relationships between molecular structure, solution conformation and therapeutic function.
  • Formulation in colloidal systems, including emulsions, micro-emulsions and particle suspensions.
  • Structural properties, spectroscopic characterization, surface modification and adsorption properties of metal-organic framework (MOF) materials.
  • Molecular motion, disorder and phase transitions in crystalline solids.

Technique development

  • Development and application of the new X-ray Birefringence Imaging technique, first reported by members of the Materials and Energy Research Grouping in 2014.
  • Development of computational strategies for crystal structure prediction and for understanding crystal nucleation and growth processes.
  • Formulation, development and application of new strategies and techniques for structure determination from powder X-ray diffraction data.
  • Development of in situ solid-state NMR strategies to explore the evolution of crystallization processes.

Applications of materials

  • Design and advancement of materials for energy related applications, including carbon capture, hydrogen storage, fuel cells and catalysts for the enhanced production of biofuels.
  • Developing applications of polymer mediated drug-delivery systems, including polymer-drug and polymer-protein conjugates, and polymer excipients for inhalation drug delivery from hydrofluoroalkanes.
  • Application of photochemical strategies to control molecular flow in microporous materials with the goal of making functional nano-fluidic devices.

Find out more details of group members specific research interests by looking at their individual profiles under the people tab.

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