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.

- News -

The group will lead the University's contribution to one of the UK’s new Future Manufacturing Hubs, announced on Monday 5 December 2016 by the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson. The UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will invest £10M into the Manufacture using Advanced Powder Processes (MAPP) Hub, led by the University of Sheffield and also involving the universities of Oxford, Leeds, Manchester and Imperial College London; 17 industry partners; and six centres within the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

MAPP will focus on developing new powder-based manufacturing processes that provide low energy, low cost and low waste manufacturing routes and products for UK industry, and will be part of the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Materials Research. The work in the Processing of Advanced Materials group will concern novel uses of field assisted sintering for controlling the microstructure of structural and functional materials.

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.

- Previous news -

- Major project areas -

Materials for Fission and Fusion Power is research cluster based in the Department of Materials, spanning many research groups and research specialisms. It concerns an integrated research approach to understand, at the microstructural level, the key structural integrity issues that underpin development and application of alloys for high temperature and high neutron flux environments typical of next generation fission and fusion reactors.

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

The EPSRC Future Liquid Metal Engineering (LiME) Hub, involves the universities of Brunel, Oxford, Manchester and Leeds, and Imperial College London, along with industrial partners, to undertake a major programme of integrated research 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, quantification of important dynamic processes such as crystal nucleation, growth and fragmentation, together with detailed microstructural examination and numerical modelling. 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.

- Publications -

Some recent journal publications:

Numerical and physical simulation of rapid microstructural evolution of gas atomised Ni superalloy powders, L. Zheng, T.L. Lee, N. Liu, Z. Li, G. Zhang, J. Mi and P.S. Grant, Mat. & Design, 117 (2017), 157-167.

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, 31 (2017), 377-385.

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, Mat. & Design, 93 (2016), 423–430.

- 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

- Contact -

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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