Advanced Materials Research Group

PhD Students

Ali Ghandour

Hashim Alhashimi

PhD title: Chemical and environmental engineering

Supervisors: Prof Edward Lester and Dr Andera Laybourn

Research Summary
Targeted gar removal by MOFsMy research focus on using Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) which are among the most promising choices for capturing hazardous H2S and SO2 gases. It aims to highlight the most effective MOFs for capturing hazardous gases from industry. Adsorption of the most prevalent and dangerous gases, such as H2S and SO2, due to their significant influence on organisms, the environment, and equipment. My research will focus on continuous reaction to create the adsorbent materials.
Ellena Cartlidge

Ellena Cartlidge

PhD title: The physical and chemical effects of sintering conditions on copper doped phosphate based glass

Supervisors: Dr Nigel Kendall, Dr Stuart PaineDr Ifty Ahmed and Prof Ed Lester

Research summary

Phosphate based glasses are being explored for many different applications owing to their unique degradation properties and as such are an increasingly popular method for ion delivery throughout the biomedical sector. Whilst it is widely documented that manipulating the glass composition can be used to alter ion release profiles, it is not widely understood how varying sintering conditions and particle size may affect the physical structure of the glass and therefore ion release.

The aim of this research is to explore how sintering time, pressure and temperature can effect controlled ion release of copper doped phosphate glass formulations.

Richard Crane

Richard Crane

PhD title: Chalcogenide-based mid-infrared fibre lasers for surgical use

Supervisors: Prof Angela SeddonProf Trevor BensonDr Colin Scotchford and Dr Emma Barney

Research summary

Mid-infrared (MIR) light is strongly absorbed by tissue at certain wavelengths, causing the molecular bonds to stretch and bend.  If enough energy is supplied, these bonds can be broken.  A Mid-infrared laser tuned to these wavelengths could be used during surgical procedures to ablate or coagulate tissue.  Commercially available MIR light sources such as quantum cascade lasers or optical parametric oscillator are bulky, expensive and cannot provide the power needed for surgical use.  Rare earth doped chalcogenide fibres can potentially provide a wavelength tuneable, high quality MIR beam which can be used for minimally invasive surgery.         

Nigel De Melo

Nigel De Melo

PhD title: Stem Cell control through tailored Ion Release Profiles from Resorbing Calcium Phosphate Materials

Supervisors: Dr Ifty Ahmed and Dr Virginie Sottile

Research Summary

Studies in the literature show that synthetic materials have the potential to not only influence but could also induce, lineage-specific stem cell differentiation. These studies demonstrated that ions (such as calcium, magnesium and others) released from dissolving inorganic minerals can influence stem cell phenotype. One study also showed that controlled release of calcium and phosphate ions could influence osteogenic differentiation (Murphy et al: doi:10.1038/nmat3937).

This project aims to develop novel biomaterials manufactured from fully resorbable calcium phosphate glasses. The biomaterial will be produced as injectable microspheres with controlled dissolution rates, which have  the added benefit of potentially being applied directly to the target area and could also be combined with the patient’s cells (if required) to promote skeletal repair. Once injected, modification of the local microenvironment can occur through controlled release of dissolution ion products, ideally via a mixture/combination of various inorganic ions designed to activate pathways associated with and promoting bone repair.


Peiying Fan

PhD title: Electrochemical studies of alkali and alkaline earth metals in ionic liquids for supercapattery application

Supervisors: Prof George Chen, Dr Anna Croft and Dr Grace Guan

Research Summary

The purpose of my research is to develop large-capacity, high-power and long-life supercapatteries with negative electrodes based on alkali and alkaline earth metals (AAEM) in ionic liquids (ILs).

This research will focus on economical, environmental and electrochemical properties of alkali and alkaline earth metals (AAEMs) and ionic liquids (ILs). Screening of ILs based on availability and affordability will be performed for uses in supercapattery with AAEM negative electrodes. Experimental studies of AAEMs in ILs by electrochemical, spectral and microscopic means will decide the more favourable AAEMs and ILs for supercapattery applications. Combining with literature findings on positive capacitive electrodes and IL permeable membranes, laboratory supercapatteries will be fabricated and tested under different charging and discharging conditions to determine the technological and commercial prospects.

Teo Kubiena

Teo Kubiena

PhD title: Determine Structure-Property Relationships in Heavy-Metal Optical Glasses to Optimise Glass Fibre Composition

Supervisors: Prof Angela Seddon and Dr Emma Barney

Research summary

Mid-infra red (mid-IR) light is of commercial interest because it is strongly absorbed by organic molecules. Real-time measurements of these absorptions would allow for the detection and monitoring of a range of chemicals from drugs and explosives to pollutants and food contaminants. To exploit this method for chemical identification, low-loss fibres are required to transmit mid-IR light. Research into mid-IR technologies tends to focus on a small set of glass compositions that are known to exhibit adequate behaviour.

However, non-optimal material properties result in unnecessary problems, from loss of light intensity to non-linear optical (NLO) effects. This project is a study using combined experimental and computer simulation techniques that reveal the fundamental structures of a range of tellurite (based on a TeO2 glass network) glasses to develop composition-structure-property relationships. Using these relationships, the project will provide a road map for optimising glass functional properties. The outcomes of the project with catalyse the development new high-performance optical devices and underpin the growth of the UK photonic industry into mid-IR technologies.


Johnson Ho Kwong Lau

EngD Title: Biomass Densification for Minimal Drying Energy and Optimised Pellet Quality

Supervisors: Dr Orla WilliamsProfessor Ed LesterDr Jon McKechnie and Dr John Robinson

Research Summary

Johnson Ho Kwong Lau joined the University of Nottingham as a research engineer in 2019 after graduating with a MEng in Engineering Science from Oriel College, the University of Oxford.

Biomass has the potential to dramatically improve our environment, economy and energy security if it is used as an energy source in large scale. This project will develop a novel holistic biomass pelleting process, which will aim to minimise drying energy and improve pellet quality. The system will include a low carbon drying system based around novel technologies, such as solar drying kilns, combined with heat recovery options. The aim will be to exploit the sub-tropical environment to minimise energy consumption for drying. The potential to incorporate torrefaction and pelleting into one system in conjunction with higher moisture contents biomasses will be investigated to reduce drying and transport requirements. Additionally, the potential to use the gaseous co-product of torrefaction in the drying process will be explored. Full characterisation of biomass resources will be conducted, and the options available at each stage of the process will be investigated prior to the development of the full system. By assessing the system options with Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), the optimal low energy process can be identified and compared to existing systems.

Alex Lynam

Alex Lynam

PhD Title: Suspension plasma sprayed (SPS) ceramics for extreme environment

Supervisors: Dr Tanvir HussainDr Fang Xu

Research Summary
The aerospace industry is committed to move towards lower emission, greener and environmentally friendly solutions using sustainable materials. As the turbine entry temperatures re reaching >1700° C we need tribological systems with high temperature capabilities. This project will demonstrate how to develop novel ceramic compositions for extreme environment from an emerging Suspension Plasma Spray (SPS) technology, to develop in-situ microscopy techniques at Nano and Micro Research Centre to understand mechanical properties at extreme temperatures. The project will also study the effect of speed, counter-body material, load and temperature on unlubricated sliding wear at 1000 °C using a high temperature tribology test rig.
Alexander McGrath 2020

Alexander McGrath

PhD Title: Synthesis and characterisation of metal alloys for hydrogen storage and related applications

Supervisors: Prof David Grant, Dr Sanliang LingDr Kandavel ManickamProf Gavin Walker

Research Summary

Decades of research have been devoted to storing hydrogen more economically and efficiently, and solid-state stores based on hydrides of metal alloys, such as intermetallics and high-entropy alloys, are one of the most extensively studied materials. A wide range of exciting potential applications is available, from hydrogen storage for transportation, stationary applications for refuelling and energy storage, to hydrogen compressors and thermal energy storage. Their practical applicability varies widely as a function of their thermodynamic properties, which, when combined with other factors such as sustainability, cost, kinetics, capacity, has led to thousands of metal hydrides being investigated experimentally.

Working together with an in-house modelling group, who will run computational high throughput screening of materials databases and identify new candidate metal alloys with favourable properties for the aforementioned applications, this project aims to experimentally synthesize new metal alloys shortlisted by computational screening and characterise their structures and hydrogen absorption/desorption properties. This project forms part of our ongoing collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories on a joint experimental/computational project to identify new metal alloys for hydrogen storage and related applications.


Benjamin Milborne

PhD title: Phosphate based glass/glass-ceramic microspheres for bone repair and radiotherapy delivery in bone cancer patients

Supervisor: Dr Ifty Ahmed, Prof Rob Layfield and Dr Alex Thompson

Research Summary
Global cancer cases are increasing and bone tissue ranks third amongst all organ metastases. Bone cancer causes devastation to normal bone structure and function resulting in severe pain, pathological fractures and impaired mobility. There is a need for improved therapies that can selectively target and kill cancer cells whilst regenerating bone tissue. Phosphate based glasses are an attractive material for hard tissue engineering applications due to their chemical composition being similar to that of bone. Alterations in the glass formulation affect the glasses physico-chemical and mechanical properties, bioactivity and dissolution rate. This work focuses on the development of phosphate-based glass and glass-ceramic microspheres that have been doped with radionuclides for the localised delivery of internal radiotherapy, whilst facilitating the controlled delivery of therapeutic ions to promote bone repair and regeneration. 



Sweta Munshi

PhD title: PhD in Hydroge, fuel cell and their application

Supervisor: Prof Gavin Walker and Prof David Grant

Research summary
My main focus is novel solid state hydrogen storage materials. Hydrogen is one of the strongest candidate which has high energy potential to replace fossil fuels in coming future to make our future green. But main problem with hydrogen is hydrogen storage because of its very low volumetric energy density, it is being 2700 times less energy dense than gasoline. 1 litre storage will only store 0.03 g of hydrogen at normal pressure. Even storing at 150 bars only retains 10 g/L of hydrogen. Storage at this pressure is very unsafe and hazardous. As per US DOE 2020 targets volumetric capacity of 40 g/L at a pressure lower than 12 bar is required which is still not obtained by any conventional method. The problem can be solved by material based storage. Hydrogen can be more effectively stored in solid porous materials like ammonia borane, metal amidoboranes, metal hydrides etc.This project will synthesise new hydrogen rich materials and investigate their potential as hydrogen storage materials. 
Farah Nigar

Farah Nigar

PhD title: Developing nano-biomaterials from natural waste resources

Supervisors: Dr Ifty AhmedProf Ed Lester and Prof David Grant 

Research summary

Developing sustainable materials is currently one of the major drivers for industry today. The use of food waste materials could be a valuable source of renewable raw materials which not only decreases environmental pollution but also contributes towards a circular economy.

Production of functional nanomaterials generally involves expensive starting materials and complicated processing routes, and thus generation of successful low-cost nanomaterials is a significant challenge.

Using natural materials could lead to a sustainable and cost-effective route to developing nanomaterials for varying applications. The aim of this project is to fabricate nano-biomaterials from waste resources for biomedical applications. It will mainly focus on using eggshell and prawn shell waste material as the source of raw materials, to develop bioactive and bioresorbable materials to produce next generation biomaterials.


Aoife Quinlivan

PhD Title: Preventing the Rising Tide of AMR: Utilising Water Stable MOFs to Remove Antibiotics from Wastewater 


Research Summary

Due to rapid industrialisation and an increase in the world’s population, anthropogenic water pollution has become a serious and a global problem. Antibiotics are considered emerging contaminants and their presence in wastewater is of great concern. Due to the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Traditional wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove antibiotics from wastewater and so these contaminants are released into the environment via wastewater effluent, accelerating AMR.

This project aims to tackle this problem by developing an industrially viable method for the removal of two target antibiotics from wastewater, using metal‑organic frameworks (MOFs) as adsorbents. MOFs boast relatively large surface areas, which mean that they have potentially high adsorption capacities, and the ability to functionalise MOFs enables selective adsorption of a particular contaminant. My work will explore the feasibility of using MOFs as a method to remove antibiotics from wastewater on an industrially viable scale and work towards a circular economy.

Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith

PhD Title: MOFs and manure: Designing adsorbent materials to reduce antimicrobial resistance co-selection drivers in dairy farm wastewater

Supervisors: Prof Ed Lester and Dr Rachel Gomes

Research summary

There are significant challenges for many industries that produce contaminated waste water effluent. In the UK, water released from abandoned metal mines are a major cause of water pollution which requires extensive processing, at great cost. A study partaken by the Environment Agency between 2009 – 2012 found that 226 waterbodies over England and Wales were impacted by mine abandonment. It was estimated that it would cost £374 million to remediate water-related environmental problems associated with affected areas.

This project aims to develop Layered Double Hydroxides (LDHs), a type of adsorbent, for the remediation of said toxic heavy metals from water through the use of a continuous counter-current hydrothermal reactor. More specifically this research will focus on:

  • Synthesis and optimisation of LDHs with superior adsorption characteristics
  • Application of LDHs into environmental mining effluent
  • Synthesis scale up (g to kg)
  • Wastewater as a feedstock – creating value from waste
Daniel Tejero Martin image

Daniel Tejero Martin

PhD title: Next generation of Environmental Barrier Coatings (EBC) from suspension thermal spray

Supervisors: Dr Tanvir Hussain and Dr Chris Bennett

Research summary
The need for more efficient and environmental-friendly gas turbine engines has always been the driving force for the increase of operating gas temperatures. To accommodate such conditions, novel materials that can withstand high temperatures, mechanical stresses and corrosion attach are being explored. A promising group of such materials are Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) which possess the required toughness and creep resistance. To prevent the development of undesired corrosion-related species, environmental barrier coatings (EBC) are being applied. The aim of this project is to develop, characterise and test EBCs produced through the use of novel thermal spraying techniques such as suspension high velocity oxy-fuel (SHVOF) and suspension plasma spraying (SPS), gaining a deeper understanding of the foundations

James Wakerley

PhD title: Modelling of materials for use in fuel cell and hydrogen research

Supervisors: Dr Sanliang Ling, Prof David Grant, Dr Ming Liand Prof Gavin Walker.

Research summary

During my PhD, I will use computational approaches to study the structures and properties of existing materials which are being considered for hydrogen storage and solid oxide fuel cell applications. I will work closely with our experimental colleagues in the Advanced Materials Research Group, in order to get a better understanding of these materials at atomic and molecular levels. Based on the new fundamental understanding obtained, I will then come up with new material design rules, in order to computationally identify new materials (either real or hypothetical) that can be synthesised and tested in realistic experimental conditions.


Jonathan Wilson 

PhD title: Novel Coating Platform Technology for the Protection and Functionalization of Magnesium-based Alloys

Supervisors: Dr Colin ScotchfordProf David Grant, Dr Matthew Wadge

Research Summary
Researching a bilayered coating made of CaP and phosphate-based glass to delay the onset of alloy corrosion in a biological environment. The intended application is implant materials for fracture fixation which will not need to be removed as the bone heals but will degrade naturally and be removed and repurposed by the body.


Alisa Syafira Wikaputri

Alisa Syafira Wikaputri

PhD title: Flower Waste Valorisation: Towards a Sustainable Feedstock for the Chemical Industry

Supervisors: Dr Parimala Shivaprasad, Prof Derek Irvine, and Prof Robert Stockman

Research Summary
The aim of this project is to study the scale-up of lipase–catalysed production of esters and methylacrylates derived from flower wastes using continuous process intensified (PI) reactors. Converting terpene alcohols present in flower waste into functional building blocks will be investigated to serve as an alternative feedstock for the fine chemical industry. This is done through a sequential approach of testing bench-scale batch reactions to find optimised parameters. Then, the optimised parameters will be applied to PI reactors for continuous production and will be scaled up through developing kinetic models that can be used for process design and optimisation. 

Luke Woodliffe 

PhD Title: Magnetic metal-organic framework composites for pollutant gas capture

Supervisors: Dr Andrea Laybourn, Dr Rebecca Ferrari, Dr Ifty Ahmed

Research Summary
The largest contributor to global anthropogenic CO2 emissions is coal-fired power plants. However, the current amine absorption technologies for carbon capture are not widely used due to their high-energy requirements for separation and purification, increasing a power plant’s energy demand by 25-40%. In addition to CO2, other pollutant gases such as SOx and NOx are detrimental to both the environment and human health. Our research aims to develop novel and sustainable magnetic framework composite materials with leading adsorption profiles and processing capabilities for capturing CO2 and other pollutant gases.

Mengjuan Wu

PhD title:  Design and Preparation of Multi-phase Structured Icephobic Coatings

Supervisors: Dr Xianghui HouDr Richard Wheatley and Dr Sanliang Ling

Research Summary
Mainly focused on design and preparation of multi-phase layered system with good mechanical durability and excellent thermal conductivity. Coatings in our research are mainly using metallic-based modified with polymers. The big differences in some aspects of materials are used to achieve the icephobicity. Several suitable preparation methods including spin-coating, chemical vapour deposition and so on are used to produce the multi-phase coating systems. Multiple characterisation techniques are utilized to study the surface morphologies, chemical composition as well as surface interaction. The linkage between these structural features and evaluation performance will be investigated. Icephobicity and durability tests will be carried out to examine the overall performance of designed multi-phase coating systems.

Deyu Yang

Thesis Title: Research and Development of Structured Surfaces for Icephobic Application

Supervisors: Dr Xianghui HouProf Adam ClareProf Kwing-so Choi

Research Summary
Currently, I focus on the research of structured icephobic surfaces with textured, SLIPS, and power generated properties. The main aims are well icephobic performance, long-time durability, low energy consumption, and good mechanical resistance.

Zhanpeng Xu

 PhD title: Dielectric and electrical properties of metal oxide

Supervisors: Dr Ming LiProf David Grant

Research Summary

Barium titanate is a typical perovskite structure compound and the most commonly used dielectric material for multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC). The complex compounds obtained by doping single or multiple elements are suitable for applications such as capacitors, sensors, and memories. Due to the inherent ability of the perovskite structure to carry ions of different radii, a large number of different dopants can be contained in the barium titanate lattice to adjust its electrical properties.

Multilayer ceramic capacitors based on base metal electrodes are usually sintered in a reducing atmosphere to prevent nickel electrodes from being oxidized during high-temperature sintering. However, the undoped barium titanate is reduced during the sintering process and the electrical resistance is greatly reduced. Acceptor doping can effectively reduce resistance degradation, but barium titanate is more prone to resistance degradation in a high electric field environment.

The aim of this project is to develop a new dielectric ceramic based on barium titanate that can be used in high temperature and high electric field environments. This can broaden the application scenarios of MLCC and expand the operating temperature range of integrated circuits and other capacitor-containing devices.


Advanced Materials Research Group

Faculty of Engineering
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD