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.


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 projct 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.

In summer 2014, the group received a new Thermo K-alpha X-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS) to support our work in energy storage materials, as well as other projects across the Department of Materials and our industrial partners.

The XPS technique is very sensitive to surface chemistry and is of particular use in investigating interfacial energy storage mechanisms (intercalation, redox, etc), particularly in the case of supercapacitors. The equipment also allows for rapid transfer of samples, for example from a glovebox, and has a multi-sample stage. The new equipment has already proved valuable in supporting several recent publications (see below).

In January 2014, the UK's Chancellor, George Osborne announced that 4 business ‘incubator’ centres in Oxford will between them receive £30 M from government towards of total of £67 M to invest in world leading science and technology.

Visiting the Begbroke Science Park and the group's Advanced Procesing Laboratory with Nicola Blackwood MP, the Chancellor announced £4 M to build a new ‘Innovation Accelerator’ for small high tech manufacturing businesses at Begbroke that specialise in robotics, parts for car and jet engines and superfast computers. The project will receive an additional £7M from Oxford University to support researchers to get their products ready for market.

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.


Our five most recent journal publications:

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. doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2014.09.15

A study on core-shell nanoparticles and enhanced polarisation in polymer based dielectrics, A. Mahadevegowda, N.P. Young and P.S. Grant, Nanotech., 25 (2014) 475706. doi:10.1088/0957-4484/25/47/475706

Spray processing of TiO2 nanoparticle/ionomer coatings on carbon nanotube scaffolds for solid-state supercapacitors, C. Huang, N.P. Young and P.S. Grant, J. Mat. Chem. A, 2 (2014), 11022-11028. doi:10.1039/C4TA02188F

The structural changes of yttria in ferritic ODS alloys during mechanical attrition, I. Hilger, M. Tegel, M. Gorley, P.S. Grant, T. Weissgarber and B. Kieback, J. Nucl. Mat. 447 (2014), 242-247. doi: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2014.01.026

A synchrotron X-ray radiography study of dendrite fragmentation induced by a pulsed electromagnetic field in a Al-15Cu alloy, E. Liotti, A. Lui, R. Vincent, S. Kumar, Z. Guo, T. Connolley, M. Hart, L. Arnberg, R. Mathiesen and P.S. Grant, Acta Mat., 70 (2014), 228-239. doi: 10.1016/j.actamat.2014.02.024


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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