Projects


Current Grants:

  • Systematics for the catalytic growth of nanomaterials, ERC Starting Grant, ERC (PI)
  • CONTACT - Tailored industrial supply-chain development of CNT-filled polymer composites with improved mechanical and electrical propertiesMarie Curie ITN, European Commission (PI)
  • BioTiNet - Academic-Industrial Initial Training Network on Innovative Biocompatible Titanium-base Structures for Orthopaedics, Marie Curie ITN, European Commission (PI)
  • EPSRC INSPIRE, Robust biocatalysts for energy solutions (PI)
  • DIVERSITY, Science and Society, European Comission (PI)
  • Modelling and quantitative interpretation of electron energy-loss spectra using novel density functional theory methods, Responsive mode, EPSRC (Co-PI)
  • NanoTP: "Designing novel materials for nanodevices: From Theory to Practise COST, European Commission (Co-PI)

Dedicated nanocatalysts for nanomaterials production

Dr. F. Dillon, Professor N. Grobert

Nanomaterials’ properties are highly depended on their atomic structure and composition. This project focuses on the synthesis of dedicated catalyst nanoparticles for the controlled generation of novel nanomaterials. We investigate the influence of catalyst particle size, shape, concentration and composition on the resulting nanostructure. Experiments involve pyrolysis techniques in conjunction with state-of-the-art electron microscopy techniques. This project is essential to the group and will be an integral part of the ongoing research activities. It is carried out in close collaboration with Dr K Moh, Prof E Arzt (Leibniz Institute for Novel Materials Saarbrücken, Germany), and industrial partners.


Novel routes to inorganic nanomaterials

A. Prabakaran, Dr. F. Dillon, Dr. V. Nicolosi, Professor N. Grobert

Carbon nanotubes have attracted increasingly more attention due to their outstanding properties in recent years. Concurrently, other 1D nanomaterials such as, inorganic nanowires and nanotubes of other layered materials, such as MoS2, WS2, BN, have been explored. Larger laboratory scale production, however, is still scarce and needs to be developed in order to make these novel nanomaterials viable for further characterisation, manipulation and application. This project focuses on the development of novel inorganic 1D nanomaterials using chemical vapour deposition techniques and the exploitation of these materials for energy applications.


Carbon nanotube/beta-Ti alloy composite materials for use in artificial bones

Nataliia Stepina, Professor N. Grobert

The project aims to develop routes towards mechanically strong biocompatible carbon nanotube (CNT)/ß-Ti alloy composite materials for use in artificial bones. Thermal chemical vapour deposition techniques are explored using temperature sensitive and porous Ti-based substrate materials. The project is part of and funded by the Marie Curie ITN BioTiNet - Academic-Industrial Initial Training Network on Innovative Biocompatible Titanium-base Structures for Orthopaedics,


Application of nanostructured emitters for high efficiency lighting

A. Searle, Dr. T. Doyle, Professor C.R.M. Grovenor, Professor N. Grobert

Energy has become one of the top research priorities in recent years. On average ca 20% of electricity used in buildings is consumed by light bulbs. In incandescent bulbs 90% of the energy is lost as heat and only10 % of the energy used to produce light. The energy loss can be reduced significantly by replacing ordinary light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. This project aims to explore the application of nanostructured electron emitters for high-efficiency lighting. The emission characteristics will be studied using a prototype lamp. Different types of nanotube materials will be generated and studied with regard to their performance and resilience to prolonged emission. The project focus is to study the potential for improving the efficiency of fluorescent lamps by reducing the energy needed to start and to sustain the discharge.


SrTiO3 supported catalysts for carbon nanotube growth

J. Sun, Professor N. Grobert and Professor M.R. Castell

We are investigating the possibility of using the ceramic oxide SrTiO3 as metal nanoparticle catalyst support for the growth of carbon nanotubes.


Development of spray process for manufacturing new CNT-modified films

M. Dutta, Dr. V. Nicolosi, Professor N. Grobert

The project is part of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network CONTACT (http://www.contactproject.eu/). The aim is to design and develop a new spray process for manufacturing novel CNT-modified films suitable for various applications, for example, capacitor films. Part of the study will be to investigate the dispersion behaviour or CNTs in various matrices. The project is in collaboration with Prof Steven Sheard (Department of Engineering) and Dr Peter Rocket (Department of Engineering). (Supported by The European Commission MC-ITN CONTACT)


Low-voltage, low-dose STEM for radiation sensitive materials

Professor P.D. Nellist, G. Theodossiou, Dr. V. Nicolosi, Professor N. Grobert

By the very nature of their length scales, nanoscale materials require imaging and analysis techniques at resolutions approaching individual atoms. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) can provide such capability. However, many nanoscale materials are also formed from low atomic number materials, such as carbon nanotubes and biological macromolecules, and tend to be damaged by electron beams. Aberration correction in scanning transmission electron microscopy offers an opportunity to image materials with lower electron doses, and electron energy-loss spectroscopy can provide detailed analytical material of lower-atomic number materials. The aim of the project is to develop advanced electron microscope instrumentation and develop strategies for the characterisation of materials with minimum electron exposure. Initial applications of the techniques developed will include B,N-doped carbon nanotubes, novel nanowires and carbon nanotube functionalised by enzymes.


Modelling and quantitative interpretation of electron energy-loss spectra using novel density functional theory methods

Dr. R. Nicholls, Professor P.D. Nellist, Dr. J.R. Yates, Dr. S. Lozano-Perez, Professor N. Grobert, Professor C.R.M. Grovenor, Professor D. McComb

The research proposed here aims to further our ability to use electron energy-loss spectra to solve real problems in Materials Science by developing new computer modelling methods and by using these methods to study real-world materials problems. Funded by EPSRC.


Aerosol production of arrays of pure carbon and heteroatom containing carbon nanotubes

F. Dinc, Dr. A.A. Koos, Dr. F. Dillon, Professor N. Grobert

Pure and well-aligned carbon nanotubes can be prepared in gram quantities using homogenously dispersed aerosols generated from metal organic precursor solutions using an ultrasonic spraying device. In addition, this process can also be adapted for the synthesis of bulk amounts of nitrogen, boron, silicon, and phosphorous doped carbon nanotubes and composites of carbon nanotubes with alumina, silicon carbide and other ceramic materials. SEM and TEM investigations reveal that the products are generally arranged in carpet-like flakes containing high yields of well graphitized multi-walled carbon nanotubes and are free of polyhedral particles or amorphous carbon, which are major drawbacks of standard production methods. With this method it is now possible to explore the chemical and physical properties of, for instance, nanotubes and their composite materials without the influence of by-products or the need of additional purification processes. (Supported by The Royal Society, ERC Starting Grant, CONTACT Marie Curie ITN)


Carbon nanotube reinforced ceramics

Dr. F. Dillon, G. Otieno, Professor R.I. Todd, Professor N. Grobert

There have been several attempts recently to make ceramic nanocomposites in which the reinforcing phase consists of carbon nanotubes. None has resulted in a viable composite, either because the nanotubes have been destroyed by the high firing temperatures used, or because the nanotubes have not been properly dispersed in the ceramic matrix. We are trying to solve these problems using a variety of techniques and using both single- and multi-walled nanotubes. (Supported by The Royal Society, and ERC Starting Grant)


Carrier transport of Fe-filled multi-walled carbon nanotubes

Y. Nakajima*, T. Fukuda*, Professor N. Grobert, Professor T. Maekawa*, Dr. T. Hanajiri*

The pyrolysis of ferrocene:C60 mixtures yields Fe-filled multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs). Transport measurements are being carried out on Fe-filled and test devices are fabricated by means of lithography techniques used in semiconductor device processes. (*Bio-Nano Electronics Research Centre, Toyo University, Kawagoe, Japan) (Funded by The Royal Society, 21st Century's Centre of Excellence Programme - Bioscience and Nanotechnology)


Filling multi-walled carbon nanotubes with metals

Dr. F. Dillon, Professor N. Grobert

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be filled with various materials. Generally a two-step process is used whereby CNTs are grown, opened via oxidation and subsequently are filled. Here we have developed a technique for the in-situ filling of CNTs using the pyrolysis of metal-organic precursors. Depending on the precursors pure metal-filled or alloy-filled CNTs can be produced. (Supported by The Royal Society, and ERC Starting Grant)


Manipulation of carbon nanotubes using a rotational magnetic field

Professor N Grobert, Dr F Dillon, Professor T Maekawa*

The manipulation of nano- and micro-particles, biological molecules and cells is a key technology for the operation of nano- and micro-electromechanical systems (NEMS/MEMS) and micro-total analysis systems (microTAS). Various manipulation techniques of magnetic particles using magnetic fields have been studied and developed in recent years. Magnetic particles tend to form chain clusters in a dc magnetic field since the magnetic dipoles are aligned in the direction of the field. It is also known that chain clusters are rotated in rotational magnetic fields under certain conditions. We have developed a novel method for manipulating both magnetic and nonmagnetic particles using a rotational magnetic field. The present method is applied to the manipulation of CNTs. (*Bio-Nano Electronics Research Centre, Toyo University, Japan) (Funded by The Royal Society, ERC Starting Grant, and The 21st Century's Centre of Excellence Programme - Bioscience and Nanotechnology)