Processing of Advanced Materials Group

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


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 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 systems. The equipment is now being used across a range of energy storage and other projects in the group.

The Oerlikon Metco vacuum plasma spraying system completed a major upgrade in December 2014, increasing power for the processing of ultra-high melting point materials in an inert deposition environment, improving the plasma gun and workpiece manipulation, and introducing state-of-the-art process control.

The roll-out project for the new VPS concerns the development and properties of thick tungsten coatings to protect the interior of next generation fusion reactors, in collaboration with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

- 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.

The work at Oxford concerns real-time X-ray synchrotron based imaging of solidification, phase field modelling of crystal growth, 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, spray deposition, and polymer-based casting. In some arrangments, the structured materials - or meta-materials - produce unusual interactions with microwaves unavailable in conventional materials or composites. 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

We are also research 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. We are also studying the novel manufacturing and performance of Flexible energy storage and generation systems funded by the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP).

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

- More current projects, further details and facilities -

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

Research projects available

Research studentships:

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:

Manufacture of electrical and magnetic graded and anisotropic materials for novel manipulations of microwaves, P.S. Grant, F. Castles, Q. Lei, Y. Wang, J.M. Janurudin, D. Isakov, S. Speller, C. Dancer and C.R.M Grovenor, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 373, 2049 (2015), 20140353.

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.

3D Printing of magnetic materials for electromagnetic devices, Y. Wang, F. Castles and P.S. Grant, Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc., 1788 (2015), mrss15-2116292.

Scaleable polymer based ferrite composites with matching permeability and permittivity for high frequency applications, Y. Wang, E. Edwards, I. Hooper, N. Clow and P.S. Grant, Appl. Phys. A, 120 (2015), 609-614.

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.

Real-time synchrotron X-ray observation of equiaxed solidification of aluminium alloys and implications for modelling , A. Prasad, E. Liotti, S.D. McDonald, K. Nogita, H. Yasuda, P.S. Grant and D.H. StJohn, MCWASP, IOP Conf. Series: Mat. Sci. Eng., 84 (2015), 012014.

Characterisation of the residual stresses in spray formed steels using neutron diffraction, T.L. Lee, J. Mi, S.L. Zhao, J.F. Fan, S.Y. Zhang, S. Kabra and P.S. Grant, Scripta Mat., 100 (2015), 82-85.

Enhancing the supercapacitor behaviour of Fe3O4/FeOOH coaxial nanowire-carbon nanotube hybrid electrodes in aqueous electrolytes, L. O'Neill, C. Johnston and P.S. Grant, J. Power Sources, 274 (2015), 907–915.

- More selected journal papers -


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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