Faculty of Engineering

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Andrea Laybourn

Nottingham Research Fellow, Faculty of Engineering



I attained an MChem (Medicinal Chemistry with Pharmacology) from the University of Liverpool in 2008. I then completed a PhD at the University of Liverpool under the guidance of Profs Andy I. Cooper, Dave Adams and Yaroslav Z. Khimyak in 2012. My doctoral studies focussed on the synthesis of porous amorphous networks and their molecular level characterisation by solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Upon completion of my doctorate, I moved to the University of Nottingham as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working across the School of Chemistry and Faculty of Engineering with Profs Martin Schroder, Neil Champness and Sam Kingman. Research was focussed on the synthesis of novel metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) from perylene- and naphthalene- di-imide ligands and development of microwave technology for batch synthesis of MOFs in collaboration with the National Centre for Microwave Processing. I was appointed as a Nottingham Research Fellow in May 2016.

In addition to my research, I am a Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and an Affiliate of IChemE. I am a Member of the GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC); a joint initiative between the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham supported by a £3m Strategic Development Fund. I am also passionate about encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM and actively engage with the Athena Swan initiative.

I am a member of the Microwave Process Engineering research group.

Expertise Summary

I work as part of a team of scientists and engineers in the Microwave Process Engineering Research Group whom conduct multi-disciplinary research, development and commercialisation studies into electromagnetic heating technologies. A chemist by training, I have over 9 years' experience in synthesis and characterisation of many types of porous materials (both amorphous and crystalline). In particular, I have experience in assessing the structure and functional properties of porous materials using advanced characterisation techniques such as powder X-ray diffraction, gas sorption, thermophysical properties, scanning electron microscopy, and solid state NMR. I also specialise in understanding the interactions between inorganic materials and electromagnetic fields which enables the development of microwave technologies for chemical syntheses.




Teaching Summary

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Lecturer in:

  • Introductory Chemistry (H81ICH)
  • Year 2 Laboratories

Research Supervisor:

I am currently supervising a PhD in Chemical Engineering, entitled: "Microwave Synthesis and Processing of Metal-organic Frameworks"

I welcome applications from excellent prospective PhD candidates in the areas of:

Metal organic frameworks, microwave technology applied to inorganic chemistry, microporous materials synthesis and characterisation, synthesis of new porous inorganic/organic hybrid materials, Interactions of microwave energy with inorganic materials (dielectric spectroscopy), ultrafast materials processing

If you are interested in these areas, please get in touch.

Research Summary

My current research interests lie within ultrafast materials processing using microwaves and flow chemistry, particularly for the synthesis and activation of MOFs. I am interested in understanding… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

My current research interests lie within ultrafast materials processing using microwaves and flow chemistry, particularly for the synthesis and activation of MOFs. I am interested in understanding the interaction of materials with electromagnetic energy and the use of selective heating to control the structure and properties of new and existing MOFs through kinetically driven reactions. I am also involved the development of new technologies and reactors that deliver reduced manufacturing and processing costs of such materials.

My research involves the production of novel porous materials using microwave technology, with particular emphasis on synthesis of complex organic/inorganic structures such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Potential applications of MOFs include CO2/SO2 capture, re-breather technologies, gas storage and separation, catalysis, sensors, drug delivery, and as electrolytes in fuel cells.

Current commercial methods of MOF synthesis predominantly involve solvothermal routes (reactants heated above the boiling point of the solvent under autogenous pressure) in toxic solvents for extended periods (24-76 hours) in sealed vessels. On a multi-kilogram to tonne scale, MOF production is therefore an extremely energy intensive, inefficient and expensive process. As a result, commercial adoption of MOFs is currently restricted by their high product cost. My research aims to develop an alternative process by which rapid, efficient production is achieved using electromagnetic technology, affording the potential for MOFs to become bulk commodities.

Faculty of Engineering

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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