Processing of Advanced Materials - Professor Patrick Grant

Processing of Advanced Materials Group

Welcome to the Processing of Advanced Materials research group at Oxford University. The group leader is Patrick Grant, Vesuvius Professor of Materials. Our research takes place at the interface between advanced materials and manufacturing. The group investigates a wide range of material and processes, including the manufacture of battery electrodes for energy storage such as Li ion batteries and solid state batteries, solidification and processing of metallic alloys for greater recirculation, and additive manufacture/3D printing of materials for microwave devices.

In our manufacturing research we have a mixture of commercial processing facilties alongside manufacturing equipment we have designed ourselves to provide novel capability, which is built in our labs or by specialist sub-contractors. The group works closely with many industrial funders and collaborators, and with many other universities across the globe. For our work on X-ray imaging of dynamic processes taking place during materials manufacture, we access X-ray synchrotrons around the world, as well as neutron sources for in situ diffraction studies of phase evolution.

The group is primarily based at Oxford University's Begbroke Science Park, approximately 5 miles north of Oxford city centre. The Begbroke Science Park provides the group with large-scale laboratories unavailable in central Oxford that are critical for our relatively large-scale manufacturing research. The 350sqm Advanced Processing Laboratory is the hub for the group's research. Please get in contact if you would like any further information.

- Publications -

Some recent journal publications:

The effects of irradiation on CrMnFeCoNi high-entropy alloy and its derivatives, Z. Zhang, D.E.J. Armstrong and P.S. Grant, Prog. Mat. Sci., 123 (2022), 100807.

Design of scalable next generation thick electrodes: opportunities and challenges, A.M. Boyce, D.J. Cumming, C. Huang, S.P. Zankowski, P.S. Grant, D.J.L. Brett and P.R. Shearing, ACS Nano, 2021.

Nucleation bursts of primary intermetallic crystals in a liquid Al alloy studied using in situ synchrotron X-ray radiography, S.Feng, E. Liotti, A. Lui, M.D. Wilson and P.S. Grant, Acta Mat., 221 (2021), 117389.

Joining and cycling performance of ultra-thick tungsten coatings on patterned steel substrates for fusion armour applications, W. Cui, K. Flinders, D. Hancock and P.S. Grant, Mat. Design, 212 (2021), 110250.

High energy density single crystal NMC/Li6PS5Cl cathodes for all-solid-state lithium metal batteries, C. Doerrer, I. Capone, S. Narayanan, J. Liu, C.R.M. Grovenor, M. Pasta and P.S. Grant, ACS Appl. Mat. Interfaces, 13 (2021), 37809-37815.

Multi-layered high power Li4Ti5O12 and high capacity SnO2 electrodes for smart lithium ion storage, S.-H. Lee, C. Huang and P.S. Grant, Energy Storage Mat., 38 (2021), 70-79.

Amorphization in extreme deformation of the CrMnFeCoNi high-entropy alloy, S. Zhao, Z. Li, C. Zhu, W. Yang, Z. Zhang, D.E.J. Armstrong, P.S. Grant, R.O. Ritchie and M.A. Meyers, Sci. Adv., 7 (2021), eabb3108.

New nanoscale artificial pinning centres for NbTi superconductors, T. Mousavi, P.S. Grant, S. Speller and C.R.M. Grovenor, Mat. Des., 198 (2021), 109285.

A solid state battery cathode with a polymer composite electrolyte and low tortuosity microstructure by directional freezing and polymerization, C. Huang, C.L.A. Leung, P. Leung and P.S. Grant, Adv. Energy Mat., 11 (2021), 2002387.

3D imaging of lithium protrusions in solid-state lithium batteries using X-ray computed tomography, S. Hao, J.J. Bailey, F. Iacoviello, J. Bu, P.S. Grant, D.J.L. Brett and P.R. Shearing, Adv. Func. Mat., (2020), 2007564.

4D Bragg edge tomography of directional ice templated graphite electrodes, R.F. Ziesche, A.S. Tremsin, C. Huang, C. Tan, P.S. Grant, M. Storm, D.J.L. Brett, P.R. Shearing and W. Kockelmann, J. Imaging, 6 (2020), 136.

An overview of in situ mapping of chemical segregation using synchrotron X-ray imaging, S. Feng, E. Liotti, M.D. Wilson, L. Jowitt and P.S. Grant, MRS Bulletin, 45 (2020), 934-942.

High energy lithium ion capacitors using hybrid cathodes comprising electrical double layer and intercalation host multi-layers, S.H. Lee, C. Huang and P.S. Grant, Energy Storage Mat., 33 (2020), 408-415.

2020 Roadmap on solid-state batteries, M. Pasta, P.S. Grant, P.G. Bruce et al, J. Phys. Energy, 2 (2020), 032008.

Scalable multilayer printing of graphene interfacial layers for ultrahigh power lithium-ion storage, S.-H. Lee, C. Johnston and P.S. Grant, Energy Tech., 8 (2020), 2000253.

Electron microscopy and atom probe tomography of nanoindentation deformation in oxide dispersion strengthened steels, T.P. Davis, J. Haley, S. Connolly, M.A. Auger, M.J. Gorley, A.J.Wilkinson, S.G. Roberts, P.S. Grant, P.A.J. Bagot, M.P. Moody and D.E.J. Armstrong, Mat. Character., 167 (2020), 110477.

Evaluation of the Laguerre-Gaussian mode purity produced by 3D-printed microwave spiral phase plates, D. Isakov, Y. Wu, B. Allen, C.J. Stevens, P.S. Grant and G. Gibbons, Roy. Soc. Open Sci., 7 (2020), 200493.

In-situ X-ray radiography of primary Fe-rich intermetallic compound formation, S. Feng, E. Liotti, A. Lui, M.D. Wilson, T. Connolley, R.H. Mathiesen and P.S. Grant, Acta Mat., 196 (2020), 759-769.

Effect of the sintering temperature on the microstructure and superconducting properties of MgB2 bulks manufactured by the Field Assisted Sintering Technique, G. Matthews, S. Santra, R. Ma, P.S. Grant, C.R.M. Grovenor and S.C. Speller, Supercond. Sci. Technol., 33 (2020), 054003.

In situ X-ray radiography of twinned crystal growth of primary Al13Fe4, S. Feng, Y. Cui, E. Liotti, A. Lui, C.M. Gourlay and P.S. Grant, Scripta Mat., 184 (2020), 57-62.

Design and characterisation of ex-situ bulk MgB2 superconductors containing a nanoscale dispersion of artificial pinning centres, G. Matthews, J. Liu, C.R.M. Grovenor, P.S. Grant and S.C. Speller, Supercond. Sci. Technol., 33 (2020), 034006.

Active metamaterials with negative static dielectric susceptibility, F. Castles, J. Fells, D. Isakov, S.M. Morris, A.A.R. Watt and P.S. Grant, Adv. Mat., 32 (2020), 1904863.

In-line measurement of the dielectric permittivity of materials during additive manufacturing and 3D data reconstruction, L. Fieber, S. Bukhari, Y. Wu and P.S. Grant, Additive Manufact., 32 (2020), 101010.

Electrochemical mechanics of metal thin films: charge-induced reversible surface stress for actuation, C. Cheng, P.S. Grant and L. Luhrs, Adv. Electron. Mat., 6 (2020), 1900364.

Combining composition graded positive and negative electrodes for higher performance Li ion batteries, C. Cheng, R. Drummond, S.R. Duncan and P.S. Grant, J. Power Sources, 448 (2020), 227376.

Low-tortuosity and graded lithium ion battery cathodes by ice templating, C. Huang, M. Dontigny, K. Zaghib and P.S. Grant, J. Mat. Chem. A, 7 (2019), 21421-21431.

Single-step spray printing of symmetric solid state batteries based on porous organic dye electrodes, P. Leung, J.F. Bu, M.R. Roberts, P. Quijano Velasco, C. Johnston and P.S. Grant, Adv. Energy Mat., 9 (2019), 1901418.

Co-spray printing of layered honeycomb LiFePO4 cathodes and a hybrid LAGP-PEO electrolyte for an all-solid-state Li-ion battery, J. Bu, P. Leung, C. Huang, S.H. Lee and P.S. Grant, J. Mat. Chem. A, 7 (2019), 19094-19103.

Overcoming diffusion limitations in supercapacitors using layered electrodes, R. Drummond, C. Huang, P.S. Grant and S.R. Duncan, J. Power Sources, 433 (2019), 126579.

Single-operation, multi-phase additive manufacture of electrochemical double layer capacitor devices, L. Fieber, J.D. Evans, C. Huang and P.S. Grant, Additive Manufact., 28 (2019), 244-353.

The essential role of cavitation bubble fraction in controlling acoustic streaming: relevance to ultrasonic liquid metal processing, G.S.B. Lebon, I. Tzanakis, K. Pericleous, D. Eskin and P.S. Grant, Ultrasonics Sonochem., 55 (2019), 243-255.

Layer-by-layer printing of multi-layered heterostructures using Li4Ti5O12 and Si for high power Li-ion storage, S.H. Lee, C. Huang and P.S. Grant, Nano Energy, 61 (2019), 96-103.

Micro-scale graded electrodes for improved dynamic and cycling performance of Li-ion batteries, C. Cheng, R. Drummond, S.R. Duncan and P.S. Grant, J. Power Sources, 413 (2019), 59-67.

- More publications here -

Our Faraday Institution project NEXTRODE could revolutionise the manufacturing of battery electrodes

The group and a consortium of researchers from across the UK have been awarded approximately £12M for project Nextrode that is researching new ways of making the electrodes found in the 6 billion (and growing) Li ion batteries produced every year.

Today's Li-ion batteries use electrodes that are made using a "slurry casting" process in which the active materials are mixed in a wet slurry and coated onto thin metallic foils, then dried and compressed. For the anode, the active material is typically graphite (a form of carbon), while for the cathode it is usually a more complex Li-based oxide. The slurry casting process is highly effective for mass production, but has been developed through trial and error. When the active material or the electrode formulation is changed, the time-consuming trial and error optimisation of the manufacturing process and the electrode microstructure must start again. The process also has limited opportunities for more careful tailoring of the electrode structure, which recent lab-scale and simulation work is beginning to show could be effective in boosting battery power, energy density and/or lifetime. However, until now, no such manufacturing technologies have been available at anything like approaching the required scale and throughput.

"Nextrode is strengthening the scientific understanding of existing electrode manufacturing, which we can then apply to bring more flexibility to slurry casting in order to realise battery performance improvements at industrial scale. At the same time, we are developing a new generation of manufacturing approaches for 'smart' electrodes where the different electrode materials are arranged with greater precision and provide even greater performance benefits. This part of the work is focused at Oxford University, drawing on the expertise of our partners at Sheffield, Birmingham, Warwick, Southampton and UCL. We are also working with industrial partners who will help us apply our insights and ideas at industrial scale".

Studying crystallization using X-ray radiography and machine learning

We describe an X-ray radiographic study of the crystallization behaviour of liquid alloys using X-ray radiography and machine learning in Science Advances. Working with colleagues the Department of Engineering Science, we used machine learning techniques to teach a computer to automatically detect the nucleation of crystals in terra-bytes of X-ray radiographic videos obtained during solidification experiments at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The quality of the videos combined with computer vision techniques allows the alloy composition at the point and instant of nucleation to be determined automatically, which in turn allows an estimate of the temperature and nucleation undercooling for every crystallization event. Studying thousands of nucleation events, we show how undercooling varies with solidification conditions, and explain how sudden bursts of crystallization are linked to the thermal-solute conditions in the liquid. Machine learning computer vision allowed enormous volumes of data that were unanalysable by hand to be converted robustly into distributions of nucleation undercoolings.

The group is a partner for one of the UK's Future Manufacturing Hubs. The UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is investing £10M in 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 is focusing on developing new powder-based manufacturing processes that provide low energy, low cost and low waste manufacturing routes and products for UK industry. Our work in Oxford concerns novel uses of the field assisted sintering technique (FAST) for consolidating powder materials, and controlling the associated microstructural evolution in a variety of structural and functional materials.

Right is our Dr Fritsch field assisted sintering technique (FAST) apparatus. FAST is a powder consolidation process in which a pulsed direct current is passed through a green powder compact and/or a graphite die under vacuum and uniaxial pressure. Joule heating in the die and/or the compact (depending on die arrangement and materials used) reduces consolidation times from many hours to a few minutes. FAST is similar to the Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) process.

The FAST is being used to consolidate Fe, Cu and W based dispersion strengthened powders produced in-house for nuclear power applications, and solid-state electrolytes for batteries.

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

Research studentships

Research studentship opportunities in the group are given on the departmental website along with how to apply and closing dates for gathered field assessment of applications HERE

Post-doctoral positions

Funded post-doctoral research assistant jobs in the group are posted here as and when external funding is available - please check back later.

- 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

Return to Department of Materials