Department of
Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering

Image of Emma Barney

Emma Barney

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering



Dr Emma Barney is an assistant professor in the department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Nottingham. Emma completed her PhD in Physics at the University of Warwick in 2008, with a thesis entitled "The Structural Role of Lone-Pair Ions in Glass". This studentship focused on the interaction of heavy metal ions, such as lead and tellurium, with traditional network glasses such as borates and aluminates. The research was part-funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and, upon completion, Emma was employed by STFC as an instrument scientist for the GeM diffractometer at the ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Source, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (2008-2011).

Whilst working at ISIS, Emma developed a strong research programme, investigating complex heavy metal oxide glasses, while also forming collaborations to study bio-active glasses, metallic glasses, metal-organic frameworks and cyanides. She was also responsible for commissioning the instrumentation, and developing new data analysis methods for, the first commercially supplied silver-source Panalytical X-ray diffractometer. The data obtained from this instrument are suitable for total scattering analysis and, when combined with neutron data, has proven to be a powerful method for determining the structure of complex disordered materials that are intractable using one diffraction technique to maximise the value of neutron diffraction experiments. The first paper published from this work was in the high-profile Physical Review Letters journal, winning the inaugural Panalytical award for outstanding research using laboratory X-rays.

In 2011 Emma was awarded the 2-year Nottingham Advanced Research (NAR) Fellowship at the University of Nottingham. The focus of this Fellowship was to apply her understanding of lone pair ions in glasses to technologically relevant arsenic based mid-infrared (mid-IR) optical glasses. Following the completion of the fellowship, Emma was awarded a lectureship.

To July 2016 She had an H index of 10 and 37 published journal papers.

Emma is a fellow of the Society of Glass Technology, and is chair of the Basic Science and Technology Committee for that body. As part of this role, she organizes and is involved in judging the Oldfield award, which is open to undergraduate researchers working on glass research, and participates in the organization of the annual conference on Glass (Glass Reflections).

Emma is also a member of the Ceramics Society Board for the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Neutron Scattering Committee for the Institute of Physics, of which she is also a member.

Expertise Summary

Neutron diffraction

X-ray diffraction

Materials characterization

Oxide glass melting

Chalcogenide glass melting


Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

Raman Spectroscopy

Teaching Summary

Dr Barney teaches the first year module "Dynamics for Mechanical Systems" with Dr Dimitrios Chronopoulos. This module covers the basics of displacement, velocity and acceleration for linear and… read more

Research Summary

Dr Barney has a long standing interest in the structure of glass and disordered materials, with a particular focus on understanding structure-property relationships. Her primary research tool is… read more

Selected Publications

Find me on Twitter: @emmabarney1 14th-26th July 2015, Visiting Student from Coe College, Iowa, USA A student from Professor Steve Feller's research group is visiting my for two weeks to make some AE tellurite glasses and get involved with extruding chalcogenide glasses. ​11th July 2015, Harwell Campus Open Day, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire Not strictly work, but this weekend, I took my Husband, my parents, and a visiting undergraduate student from Coe College (Iowa, USA) to the Harwell Open day to look around ISIS and Diamond. It was extremely well organised, the weather was fabulous, and a good time was had by all. It was especially nice to show my parents what I spend a lot of my time doing! ​25th June 2015, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire The first meeting of the local organising committee for the 2017 Borates and Phosphates glass conferences was held. Lots of logistical issues to consider, so fortunately we have a very enthusiastic team involved! 20th-21th May 2015, Neutron and Muon User Meeting, Hinkley I gave an invited presentation about my research on chalcogenide and tellurite glasses for the functional materials session. It was a lovely opportunity to catch up with other researchers, find out how access to neutrons will change over the the next few years, and discuss as a community what improvments to facilities and support could be made 29th January 2015: Paper accepted for publication Alkali environments in tellurite glasses, J. Non-Cryst. Solids, 2015,414, 33-41 23rd January 2015: Paper accepted for publication Correlating structure with non-linear optical properties in xAs40Se60·(1 −x)As40S60 glasses, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2015,17, 6314-6327 6th-7th January 2015, ISIS Disordered Materials User Group Meeting, Abingdon, Oxfordshire This week I was at the ISIS Disordered Materials user group meeting, with Dr James Towey presented the work he has been doing with me to model the structure of Arsenic-Selenium-Sulfide glasses. 10th-11th November 2014, ISIS Crystallography User Group Meeting, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

This week I was at the ISIS crystallography User group meeting to find out what new developments are underway at ISIS. The crystallography meeting is not my usual meeting, but I felt justified in attending, having put in my first proposal (with Prof. David Grant) to use the High Resolution Powder Diffractometer this year. It was lovely to meet some new people and listen to some interesting new (for me) science. The highlight was the demonstration of the piezoelectric effect during Prof. Mike Glazer's talk - Learned academics giggling as they gave themselves mild electric shocks!

21st-24th September 2014, ESG Conference, Parma, Italy

My final conference for 2014 was funded by the Society of Glass Technology and I attended to receive the Pilkington Award. I again got to shake hands with Russell when he presented the award to me and posed for photos. It was also very nice to see Professor Julian Jones again, who received the Gottardi award.

This was my first time at an ESG conference and I was impressed by both the size of the conference and the diversity of topics discussed. My invited talk was long enough for me to discuss a significant amount of my recent research on tellurite glasses, including amorphous TeO2, alkali tellurites, aluminium tellurites and boron tellurites. The talk was well received and there was a lot of discussion afterwards.

10th-12th September 2014, Living Glass 2 Conference, Durham UK.

This conference is the annual meeting of the SGT. The theme of this conference was "ancient glasses/new techniques" leading to an interesting and diverse symposium. Topics ranged from glasses along the silk road (Julian Henderson: Nottingham) through Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (John Hanna:Warwick) to Aero-levitated glasses (Mario Affatigato: Coe College). My attendance was funded through the UK 850 MHz solid-state NMR facility's publicity fund and I spoke about recent results I obtained on aluminium tellurite glasses.

The conference dinner was very special for me for two reasons. Firstly Fernando Barrera-Betanzos was awarded the Oldfield Award for best undergraduate project report. Fernando was my first project student at Nottingham and did an excellent project with me, topped off by a very professional and interesting talk at the conference. Secondly, I was made a Fellow of the society by the President, Professor Russell Hand. Following the formal part of the evening, I had a chance to look thorough the book of fellows and see some well recognized names in there.

21st​-28th​ August 2014: International Symposium on Non-Oxide and Optical glasses, Jeju, South Korea.

I attended this conference with my PDRA, James Towey, and several members of the Novel Optical Glasses group. I presented recent work using EXAFS to study the local environment of dysprosium in chalcogenide glasses, while James discussed the validity of using EPSR to model chalcogenide glasses. Both papers were well received and the conference was an excellent opportunity to meet other researchers working on optical glasses. The Korean food was also a highlight, including raw fish, black pork and the ubiquitous kimchi.

19th August 2014: Paper accepted for publication

The local environment of Dy3+ in selenium-rich chalcogenide glasses, RSC Adv., 2014,4, 42364-42371

29th June - 5th July 2014: Borates and Phosphates Conference, Pardubice, Czech Republic.

I presented work carried out with Dr Ifty Ahmed and Nusrat Sharmin on boron doped calcium phosphate glasses. While there, I successfully presented the bid to host the 2017 conference, on behalf of the Society of Glass Technology. The next conference will be held in Oxford at St Anne's College.

Dr Barney teaches the first year module "Dynamics for Mechanical Systems" with Dr Dimitrios Chronopoulos. This module covers the basics of displacement, velocity and acceleration for linear and angular motion, Newtons second law, momentum, inertia, work, energy and power. The latter half of the course builds upon these fundamentals, applying them to systems including gears, drives, and flywheels with concideration given to calculating load characteristics and static and dynamic balancing. There are two labs with the module that give hand-on experience of balancing rotating systems, and inertia.

Emma also teaches a fourth year module on "Advanced Materials" with Professor Angela Seddon. This module is entirely assessed through coursework and is designed to introduce students to research. The module is split into three cycles, each of which focuses on a specific materials topic. These could include "space-age materials", "biomaterials", "surfaces and coatings" and "carbon". The students are encouraged to use journals and textbooks to investigate a particular aspect of the topic before presenting their findings as both presentations and reports. Over the three cycles detailed feedback is to improve the written and verbal skills of each student.

Emma runs a number of final year projects for undergraduates. These are generally focused towards the manufacture of glasses and understanding their structure and properties. In 2014/15 projects will include:

  • Making alkaline earth tellurite glasses and characterising them using density measurements, differential thermal calorimetry and Raman spectroscopy.
  • Thermal property measurements of simple chalcogenide glasses.
  • Modeling the structures of simple tellurite glasses using EPSR and RMC profile.
  • Developing our understanding of glass extrusion processes.

Emma co-supervises two PhD students. Jess Butterworth, funded by the US Naval Research Laboratory, and Uresha Patel, who is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Current Research

Dr Barney has a long standing interest in the structure of glass and disordered materials, with a particular focus on understanding structure-property relationships. Her primary research tool is neutron and X-ray diffraction, which yields quantitative information about the short and intermediate range order in glass. These results are used in conjunction with physical and optical property measurements, Raman spectroscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to develop a detailed picture of the glass structure and related properties.

Currently Emma is studying working with chalcogenide and heavy metal oxide glasses of optical applications with Professor Angela Seddon, and bioactive phosphate glasses for osteoporotic medicine with Dr Ifty Ahmed. She is co-supervisor for two PhD students:

  • Jess Butterworth, who is investigating antimony as a replacement for arsenic in chalcogenide glass fibre manufacture.
  • Uresha Patel, who is investigating the manufacture of strintium doped calcium phosphate glass microspheres for the treatment of osteoporisis. Uresha's project is funded through the STFC Global Challenges studentships.

Emma also has a PDRA, Dr James Towey, who is funded by a Dean of Engineering Fellowship and is using Empirical Potential Structure Refinement to investigate new approaches to modelling the structure of chalcogenide glasses.

Past Research

Some highlights of recent papers:

The local environment of Dy3+ in selenium-rich chalcogenide glasses

  • E.R. Barney, Z. Tang, A.B. Seddon, D. Furniss, S. Sujecki, T. Benson, N. Neate, D. Gianolio, RSC Adv., 4 (2014) 42364. [link]

The environment of Dy3+ is investigated when added as DyCl3 or Dy foil into two base glasses, Ge16.5As19-xGaxSe64.5, where x= 3 or 10 at.%, at doping levels between 0 and 3000 parts per million by weight (ppmw) Dy3+. Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure demonstrates the glasses doped with Dy foil, or less than 1000 ppmw Dy3+ as DyCl3, contain Dy ions that are fully incorporated into the glass network and are coordinated by 7-8 Se atoms. However, when the DyCl3 dopant is present in concentrations [greater-than-or-equal] 1000 ppmw Dy3+ the environment is dominated by Dy-Cl bonds. Furthermore, these Dy-Cl environments are nanocrystalline, retaining chemical order beyond the first coordination shell. By comparison with XRD and FTIR results, we report that the presence of [small alpha]-Ga2Se3 crystallites in the glass, and the increased optical scattering in the fibres, are both related to the presence of DyCl3 crystallites.

Terminal Oxygens in Amorphous TeO2

  • E.R. Barney, A.C. Hannon, D. Holland, N. Umesaki, M. Tatsumisago, R.G. Orman, S. Feller, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 4 (2013) 2312. [link]

Understanding the structure of single-component glasses is essential for developing structural models of more complex multicomponent glasses. Currently, such models for tellurite systems are purely qualitative. This study presents neutron diffraction and Raman spectroscopy measurements of the structure of pure amorphous TeO2, showing that it is formed from a combination of two-thirds [TeO4] pseudo-trigonal bipyramids and one-third [TeO3] trigonal pyramids with a terminal oxygen. This is in contrast to all crystalline polymorphs of TeO2, which are formed solely from the four-coordinated units. Using this result, a quantitative model has been developed that successfully predicts the average Te-O coordination number, nTeO, for a series of potassium tellurite glasses, xK2O·(100-x)TeO2. The observed nTeO is constant up to 15 mol % K2O due to the presence of terminal oxygen atoms in the tellurite network.

Short-Range Order and Dynamics in Crystalline alpha-TeO2

  • E.R. Barney, A.C. Hannon, D. Holland, J. Phys. Chem. C, 116 (2012) 3707. [link]

The short-range order and dynamics in crystalline alpha-TeO2 have been investigated by neutron and X-ray total scattering and by Rietveld refinement of neutron diffraction data. The true lengths of the two bonds in a Te-O-Te bridge are 1.882(1) and 2.117(1) angstrom, and the high valence, 1.293, of the strong, short bond is balanced by the low valence, 0.686, of the weak, long bond. The root-mean-square (rms) thermal variation, 0.083(1) angstrom, in the long bond length is nearly twice the rms thermal variation, 0.048(1) angstrom, in the short bond length because the largest motion of both Te and O atoms is perpendicular to the short bonds. A bond-valence model for the thermal variation in bond lengths, in which both the average and the instantaneous positions of the atoms conform to bond-valence requirements, accounts closely for the observed distribution of Te-O distances in alpha-TeO2. This has important implications for the interpretation of diffraction experiments on tellurite glasses.

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