Processing of Advanced Materials Group

Welcome to the page for Patrick Grant, Vesuvius Professor of Materials, and the Processing of Advanced Materials research group at Oxford University. Our research takes place at the interface between advanced materials and manufacturing. Particular applications include electrodes for energy storage and advanced metallic alloys for power generation.

Many of our research projects are concerned with solidification behaviour in complex alloys, and/or the use of liquid metal, ceramic or polymer droplet and powder sprays to create unusual materials. The group works closely with industry and other universities, and has many specialised synthesis and fabrication facilities.

The group is primarily based at Oxford University's Begbroke Science Park, approximately 5 miles north of Oxford. The Begbroke Science Park provides large-scale laboratories unavailable in Oxford - critical for manufacturing research at a meaningful scale - and the 350sqm Advanced Processing Laboratory is the hub for the group's research. Examples of our research, the group equipment and research outputs are described below. Please get in contact if you would like any further information.


Dr Fritsch field assisted sintering technique (FAST) apparatus was commissioned in December 2015. FAST is a powder consolidation process in which a current is passed through a green powder compact under vacuum and uniaxial pressure. Localised joule heating reduces consolidation times from many hours to a few minutes. FAST is similar to Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) but operates with DC rather than AC.

The FAST is being used to consolidate Fe, Cu and W based dispersion strengthened powders produced in-house for nuclear power applications. Consolidation investigations of various functional materials has also started, along with using the FAST to join materials.

In August 2015 we started working with our new North Star Imaging Imagix 150 kV microfocus X-ray tomography (XRT) unit. The XRT is being used to map and quantify the 3D distributions of any pores or voids in advanced alloys, to study the distribution of dielectric and magnetic micro-particles in 3D printed functional composites, and to investigate the internal structure of Li-ion battery and supercapacitor cells being manufactured in the group using layer-by-layer processing.

The XRT also complements our synchrotron X-ray research on the dynamics of solidification and the manipulation of cast microstructure, allowing some experimental debugging and prelimiinary data capture before transferring our solidification rigs to national synchrotron X-ray sources such as the Diamond Light Source.

Building on several years of work at smaller scale, a major new facility has been commissioned for the spray deposition and layer-by-layer manufacture of energy storage electrodes, devices and other functional systems. Jointly designed with M-Solv Ltd, the MSV-700G draws on group expertise in multi-head suspension deposition of supercapacitor and battery electrodes, and now includes significant enhancements in atmospheric control, process control, reproducibility and speed.

The equipment allows structured electrodes with designed changes in microstructure to be manufactured, which can enhance the performance of existing storage materials, or can enable the use of next generation energy storage materials. The equipment is now being used across a range of energy storage and other projects in the group.

- Previous news -

Major project areas

Materials for Fission and Fusion Power is an EPSRC Programme Grant developing understanding, at the microstructural level, of the key structural integrity issues which underpin development and application of alloys for high-flux, high temperature neutron environments.

Our role in the project is to research the manufacture of oxide dispersion strengthened steels and copper alloys, and ultra-thick tungsten coatings for use in future fusion power reactors. Key sponsors are the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacture in Liquid Metal Engineering - LiME, involving Brunel and Birmingham Universities, and industrial partners is a major research programme to reduce dependency on primary metals, increase recycling and boost the performance of castings.

Our work concerns real-time X-ray synchrotron imaging of solidification and extraction and study of the fine-scale intermetallic compounds involving tramp impurities that control properties. Our aim is to develop a new family of more tolerant alloy-process combinations.

The Quest for Ultimate Electromagnetics using Spatial Transformations (QUEST) is an EPSRC Programme Grant involving Queen Mary, Exeter and Oxford universities and focuses on developing practical applications of spatial transformations for communication, wireless energy transfer, sensor and security applications.

The group is developing the new materials and manufacturing technology required for practical applications, including the manufacture of graded electrical and magnetic materials using new adaptations of 3D printing. In some arrangments, the structured materials - or meta-materials - produce unusual interactions with microwaves unavailable in conventional materials. We are also studying active meta-materials where their microwave response is controlled by an external stimulus.

The SuperGen Energy Storage Hub is a national collaboration funded by EPSRC for research on all types of storage technologies. Our work focuses on the manufacture of improved, structured electrodes for batteries and supercapacitors, particularly new approaches for structured electrodes.

We are researching new manufacturing-material combinations for grid-scale storage in EPSRC Grand Challenge: Energy Storage for Low Carbon Grids, led by Imperial College London. Both these projects form part of our contribution to The Energy Storage Research Network.

Oxford Energy provides more information on how our work links with Oxford University's wider energy research activities.

- More projects and facilities -

A gallery of photos of the group, visitors and other activities:

Research projects available

Research studentships:

o Manufacturing of oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) steels for nuclear energy applications

o Novel additive manufacturing approaches for active meta-materials

o Layer-by-layer manufacture of improved materials and devices for energy storage

o Spray forming of high entropy alloys

o Synchrotron X-ray and optical in-situ measurement and analysis of solidification phenomena

How to apply and closing dates for the following projects are given HERE

Post-doctoral positions: please check back later.


Some recent journal publications:

A two layer electrode structure for improved Li ion diffusion and volumetric capacity in Li ion batteries, C. Huang, N.P. Young, J. Zhang, H.J. Snaith and P.S. Grant, Nano Energy, 2016.

The spatial and temporal distribution of dendrite fragmentation in solidifying Al-Cu alloys under different conditions, E. Liotti, A. Lui, S. Kumara, Z. Guo, C. Bi, T. Connolley and P.S. Grant, Acta Mat., 121 (2016), 384-395.

Engineering the membrane/electrode interface to improve the performance of solid-state supercapacitors, C. Huang, J. Zhang, H.J. Snaith and P.S. Grant, ACS Appl. Inter. Mat., 8 (2016), 20756-20765.

Alternative fabrication routes towards oxide dispersion strengthened steels and model alloys, F. Bergner, I. Hilger, J. Virta, J. Lagerbom, G. Gerbeth, S. Connolly, Z. Hong, P.S. Grant and T. Weissgärber, Mat. Trans. A, 47 (2016), 5313-5324.

3D-printed high-contrast gradient index flat lens for directive antenna with reduced dimensions, D. Isakov, C. Stevens, F. Castles and P.S Grant, Adv. Mat. Tech., 1 (2016), 1600072.

Solid-state supercapacitors with rationally designed heterogeneous electrodes fabricated by large area spray processing for wearable applications, C. Huang, J. Zhang, N.P. Young, B. Chen, H.J. Snaith, I. Robinson and P.S. Grant, Sci. Rep., 6 (2016), 25684.

Preparation, microstructure and microwave dielectric properties of sprayed PFA/barium titanate composite films, Q. Lei, C. Dancer, P.S. Grant and C.R.M. Grovenor, Comp. Sci. Tech., 129 (2016), 198–204.

Evolution of Fe bearing intermetallics during DC casting and homogenization of an Al-Mg-Si Al Alloy, S. Kumar, P.S. Grant and K.A.Q. O'Reilly, Mat. Trans. B, 47A (2016), 3000-3014.

Microwave dielectric characterisation of 3D-printed BaTiO3-ABS polymer composites, F. Castles, D. Isakov, A. Lui, Q. Lei, C.E.J. Dancer, Y. Wang, J.M. Janurudin, S.C. Speller, C.R.M. Grovenor and P.S. Grant, Sci. Rep., 6 (2016), 22714.

Gap corrected thin film permittivity and permeability measurement with a broadband coaxial line technique, Y. Wang, I. Hooper, E. Edwards and P.S. Grant, IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory Techn., 64 (2016), 924-930.

Production of hollow and porous Fe2O3 from industrial mill scale and its potential for large-scale electrochemical energy storage applications, C. Fu, A. Mahadevegowda and P.S. Grant, J. Mat. Chem. A, 4 (2016), 2597-2604.

3D printed anisotropic dielectric composite with meta-material features, D.V. Isakov, Q. Lei, F. Castles, C.J. Stevens, C.R.M. Grovenor and P.S. Grant, Materials & Design, 93 (2016), 423–430.

Mapping of multi-elements during melting and solidification using synchrotron X-rays and pixel-based spectroscopy, E. Liotti, A. Lui, T. Connolley, M. Wilson, M. Veale, K. Sawhney, I. Dolbnya, A. Malandain and P.S. Grant, Sci. Rep., 5 (2015), 15988.

Fe3O4-carbon nanofibre bead-on-string electrodes for enhanced electrochemical energy storage, C. Fu, A. Mahadevegowda and P.S. Grant, J. Mat. Chem. A, 3 (2015), 14245–14253.

Processing and microstructure characterization of oxide dispersion strengthened Fe–14Cr–0.4Ti–0.25Y2O3 ferritic steels fabricated by spark plasma sintering, H. Zhang, K. Dawson, H. Ning, C.A. Williams, M. Gorley, C.R.M. Grovenor, S.G. Roberts, M.J. Reece, H. Yan and P.S. Grant, J. Nucl. Mat., 464 (2015), 61-68.

- More selected journal papers -

Other publications

A white paper from 2016: UK research needs in grid scale energy storage technologies, N.P. Brandon et al.

A report from 2004: The Aircraft at End of Life Sector: a Preliminary Study, I. Towle, C. Johnston and P.S. Grant


Professor Patrick Grant
Department of Materials, Oxford University
Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PH, UK
T: 44-1865-283763 or 283324
F: 44-1865-848785

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