Nanostructured Functional Materials for Energy Efficient Refrigeration, Energy Harvesting and Production of Hydrogen from Water.

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Materials


This program is about using nanostructured materials to address key areas in energy related applications. This proposal will deliver world class materials science through ambitious thin and thick film development and analysis and the proposal targets the EPSRC strategic areas Energy and Nanoscience through nanoengineering. The programme grant will provide the opportunity to integrate three well established research areas that currently operate independently of each other and will establish a new consortium of activities. Collectively they offer the essential ingredients to move this particular field forward. The planned program of work is timely because of the convergence of modelling capability, precision multilayer oxide growth expertise and nanofabrication facilities. The overall vision for the Programme Grant is focussed on Energy. Within the Programme we aim to find means of reducing energy consumption for example by using electro and magnetocaloric means of cooling; generating energy by use of nanoscale rectifying antennas and finally storing energy by photocatalytic splitting of hydrogen from water. Our program is divided into two themed areas:1) Nanostructured oxides for Energy Efficient Refrigeration with 2 project areasElectrocaloricsMagnetocalorics2) Nanostructured oxides for energy production and storage with 2 project areasSolar HarvestingPhotocatalysisThis research will enable :- The development of new materials, new material architectures and new device concepts for energy refrigeration and energy harvesting. The synergy across a range of programs particularly the underpinning activities of materials theory, modelling and characterisation will move these important fields closer to application.- The research will also enable a new forum to be established, with representation from UK and European scientists and industrialists so that broad discussions can be held to enable moving these fields forward. We place a significant emphasis on training, outreach and knowledge transfer.The research challenges that need to be addressed are:- Designing physical systems that are close to an instability so that small external perturbations from magnetic or electric fields, optical or thermal excitation will tip the system into a new ground state- Optimising control over (strain, defects, doping inhomogeneity, disorder) and first layer effects in thin film oxides (with thicknesses of the order of 10nm or less) so that we can develop the capability to tune the band gap of the oxide using directed modelling and targeted growth control.


10 25 50
Description The project examines 4 areas. Electrocaloric materials that can change temperature on the application of a voltage, magnetocaloric materials that can change temperature on the application of a magnetic field, a rectifying antenna structure that can harvest incoming radiation (solar or infra red), and finally the catalytic dissociation of water to produce hydrogen. Findings so far:


Three key summary points that are priorities

i) device set-up of a DSC-based direct-EC measurement system;

ii) development of theoretical models describing the Electrocaloric effect;

iii) synthesis of highly polarisable and anisotropic ceramics


• Comparative study of manganites verses competitive materials

• Optimisation of MCE with grain size and anisotropy

• Assessments of the benefits of new material architectures


• Identification of suitable materials and device architecture

• Development of nano-antennas

• Manufacturing of MIM diodes

Solar Hydrogen

• Development of a theoretical model for complex charge transport in the semiconducting nanostructures.

• Development of a model to assess photocatalytic performance.

• Characterisation of the electronic structure of the nanostructures.
Exploitation Route The work described in this grant will lead to routes that will:

Save energy (electrocaloric and magnetocaloric cooling)

Produce energy by rectification of incoming radiation

Store energy by producing hydrogen from water and storing the hydreogen Through industrial partners
Sectors Electronics,Energy,Environment,Security and Diplomacy

Description The magnetocalorics research was of direct benefit to a company - Camfridge.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Economic

Description "Electrocalorics -A new solid state cooler" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Anna-Karin Axelsson "Electrocalorics -A new solid state cooler" invited presentation, 13th April 2012, University of Nova Goricia , Slovenia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012