Current Research Projects

Advanced In-Situ Microscopy for Examination of Nanoscale Tribological Contacts

Mingwen Bai

My main task is to integrate a nano-indentation system inside scanning electron microscope for in-situ nano-tribology testing. So we will be able to observe what really happens at the contact region in micro and nano scale. For tribology testing, we are now using the newly developed high dynamic module with a piezo sensor that could detect the dynamic force up to 10 kHz in three directions. This system is currently implemented to test the friction of solid lubricant materials. The imaging data as well as the friction measurement are collected for modelling studies to predict friction.

Next Generation Anode Materials for Lithium-ion Batteries

Connor Smyth

Development of novel, nanoscale, lithium ion battery anodes designed to maintain electrode integrity under long term cyclic charging. Fabricated anodes include Si-nanocomposites with nano-graphene reinforcements and analytical techniques are not limited to but include SEM, TEM, Raman spectroscopy, galvanostatic charge and discharge cycling and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.

Graphene before and after 15 min. dry milling. (a) As-received graphene. (b) Graphene after 15 min. dry mill.

Structural Degradation Studies of High Voltage Li-ion Battery Materials

Laura Wheatcroft

High voltage Li-ion battery materials are being developed for new high energy storage applications such as electric vehicles and grid scale storage. Higher operating potentials could reduce the number of cells needed, and hence the price of large batteries. However, high operating potentials lead to degradation mechanisms.

My research involves using different microscopy techniques to study degradation in high voltage Li-ion battery materials. I have used electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) to visualise lithiation mechanisms (how Li shuttles in and out of particles during cycling) by looking at changes in Co oxidation state. I have also used helium ion microscopy and secondary ion mass spectrometry (HIM and SIMS) to analyse the surface layers which result from the degradation of electrolyte when operating at high potentials.

My research has been sponsored and performed in collaboration with Johnson Matthey. The HIM and SIMS work was funded by PicoFIB and performed with HZDR, Germany.

Characterising Micro- and Nano-mechanical Properties of Additive Manufacture Alloys

Idris Tugrul Gulenc

Currently, my research is about exploring the effects of different processing conditions on the surface finish, tribological performance and mechanical properties of additively manufactured alloys. It involves manufacturing parts using selective laser melting, characterisation of their mechanical properties, identification of surface topography using optical profilometry, optical and scanning electron microscopy and testing their tribological response depending on different surface characteristics. The research aims to identify the mechanism behind surface topography, improve the usability of additive manufacture alloys in as-built condition and define the best tribologic response depending on processing parameters.

The Investigation into Silicon Based Nano Contacts

Arron Bird

Looking to explore new and innovative in-situ nano-dentation techniques as well as more traditional wear testing the main aim of this project is to map and explore the behaviour of Silicon based materials at a nano scale. Various coatings and wear environments will be tested in an aim to complete a full map of the behaviour of Si at a Nano level.