UK project to study energy materials at atomic scale

EPSRC is funding a £3.2m project that will see researchers explore and develop materials for the next generation of green energy devices including solar cells, lithium batteries, and fuel cells.

Starting in May, the five-year Energy Materials: Computational Solutions project will be carried out by a research consortium led by Prof Saiful Islam at Bath University to work on new sustainable materials for energy storage and conversion.

Materials performance lies at the heart of the development of green energy technologies, and computational methods now play a vital role in modelling and predicting the atomic-scale properties of novel materials.

Prof Islam’s consortium team includes Prof Steve Parker and Dr Aron Walsh from Bath, and Profs Richard Catlow and Nora de Leeuw from University College London and Dr Paul Sherwood from the Daresbury Laboratory. The team also has links with industrial partners including Johnson Matthey and Sharp.

‘Developing new sustainable materials holds the key to cheaper and more efficient solar cells for homes and rechargeable batteries for electric cars, which will help reduce carbon emissions,’ Prof Islam said in a statement.

The research team will develop and apply techniques for modelling the atomic level operation of energy materials in the belief that fresh insights could lead to new families of compounds with a step change in efficiency and performance.

Prof Parker said, ‘This is an exciting opportunity since there is no equivalent project inter-linking such expertise being carried out elsewhere, and so could lead to major breakthroughs in the energy field.’