Materials discovery

Our projects will integrate research groups across the University in order to meet the challenges of fundamental materials discovery, deliver enhanced properties, and develop more efficient devices.

From full-time scientific computing support to develop new modelling tools, to combining material properties to deliver the step change in performance demanded by industry, our projects are on the path to becoming the foundation of sustainable transport across the aerospace, automotive and marine sectors. 

Explore our projects

Thermal analysis equipment

Lead researcher: Xiangui Hou

This kit will support research and funding by providing fast, versatile and precise measurements over a much wider range of thermal conductivity, diffusivity, temperature and atmosphere. It will also accelerate research, and boost national and international collaborations. 

Imaging ellipsometer

Lead researcher: Christopher Mellor

This instrument will provide new insights into optical properties at the microscale.

We will work with a wide range of materials, such as polymer photovoltaics, exfoliated flakes of graphene, and much more. 



Researchers: Richard Wheatley, David Rogers 

Modelling tools and optimised software often gets lost when researchers move on. This project will carefully record the progress we make in developing scientific techniques and discovering new materials – such as those used in batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen storage devices. 

Materials processing

Lead researcher:  Ming Li  

To significantly increase the capability of the advanced materials needed to build various devices, we are introducing three key pieces of equipment. They will enable us to better process materials such as nanocomposite coatings, ionic conductors and thermoelectric oxides. 


Near-ambient pressure XPS

Lead researcher: James O’Shea

While normal XPS enables us to look at the chemical and electronic structure of the atoms and molecules at the surfaces of energy materials, near-ambient pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (NAP-XPS) allows us to do this at pressures up to tens of millibars – bridging the pressure gap between surface science and real systems. 

Dynamic nuclear polarization

Lead researcher: Jeremy Titman

New products and devices for advanced applications cannot be developed without knowledge of the relationships between the structure and properties of their component materials. Our researchers will now be able to determine the properties of new materials at a molecular level.  


Inverted Raman microscope

Lead researcher: Lee Johnson

The Renishaw InVia inverted Raman microscope will be configured specifically to serve researchers studying energy materials and energy devices containing a liquid, such as batteries, solar cells and fuel cells. The inverted microscope will open new avenues for characterising energy material, providing a unique research capability here and beyond. 

Thin film analysis equipment

Lead researcher: Simon Woodward

We aim to develop a range of technologies including next-generation lightweight thermoelectric materials, high performance conducting and insulating layers, photovoltaics and batteries. Unlike existing screening abilities, this is the first reliable commercial kit that can be used on a thin film sample to help determine a material’s optimal final device use.


Molecular beam epitaxy of group III-nitrides

Lead researcher: Sergei Novikov

We will study applications of boron-nitride as a protective thermal, electrical insulating and wear-resistant coating for metals used in electric machines, allowing them to be more compact and operate at higher temperatures. The project will create the only molecular beam epitaxy system world-wide. If successful, our project will provide proof-of-the-concept and a major technological breakthrough.

Electron paramagnetic resonance facility

Lead researcher: Jon McMaster

This facility will provide an electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer at Nottingham with improved sensitivity.

It is capable of probing materials for photovoltaics, energy storage and thermo-electrochemical cells, and it will provide new data that is crucial for the success of other key projects. 


Thermal coating nanocomposites

Lead researcher: Xiangui Hou

Current state-of-the-art materials such as aluminium nitride have limited applications – due to their chemical volatility or instability. With a crucial need for new materials, we will explore the potential of using nanocomposite coatings with specific nanofillers and matrices to provide greater stability and meet the demanding conditions of high-density electrical power systems.  

Feeling inspired?


World-class research at the University of Nottingham

University Park
+44 (0) 115 951 5151
Athena Swan Logo