Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Study of Functional Materials

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Chemistry


In this collaborative research project between Cardiff University and Johnson Matthey (JM), Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Spectroscopy will be used to investigate a wide range of functional materials for industrially relevant applications. These will include battery materials, catalysts, adsorbents for water treatment, glasses and carbons. Both continuous wave (CW), and if necessary pulsed (FT) EPR methods will be applied in order to obtain a better understanding of the functional properties of these systems. Where relevant, other techniques will also be used, for example advanced hyperfine techniques such as ENDOR.

EPR is expected to yield significant amounts of relevant information on the structure of the functional materials investigated, including the oxidation state and environment of metal ions, the presence and nature of defect sites and in some cases the interaction of metal ions with their neighbours. It is especially useful for systems containing dopants, where the location of the dopant in the host structure can be probed.

The materials investigated during the project will be supplied by JM, along with characterisation and performance data where appropriate.

In summary, during the project we will comprehensively explore all avenues for the exploitation of advanced EPR techniques within the broad classification of functional materials, including carbon based materials, battery materials, glasses, enamels, heterogeneous & homogeneous metal based complexes and catalysts.

Project Management
The project will contain two strands, which will run in parallel. The first strand will focus on battery materials, which are a priority area for JM and contain a range of nuclei which are suitable for analysis using EPR. The second strand will consist of a series of projects in other technology areas, aiming both to give information on materials which is immediately useful and relevant, but also to gain experience of the kind of information which can be provided by EPR, and how it compares with other techniques


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/P510452/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1839251 Studentship EP/P510452/1 01/01/2017 31/12/2020 Jacob Nicholas Spencer
Description The use of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, as a tool in the understanding of functional materials, has been clearly demonstrated throughout a wide range of industrially relevant technologies in collaboration with Johnson Matthey. These projects are summarised below:

- Resins for the selective extraction of metals from aqueous media related to water process technologies;
EPR was useful in understanding how metals, such as copper dissolved in solution, interact and bind with the resins. The outcomes of the project are useful in the modelling of uptake processes, and development of future materials with greater efficiency.

- Preparation of luminescent materials for algae growth;
Luminescent materials emit light at a specific wavelength dependent on their structure. The particular material in question emits light in the red wavelength range which is essential for the growth of algae. Here, EPR was used to assist in understanding process control technologies and how they affect its light emission. This provides an insight into the design and manufacture of these materials.

- Conductive glasses of interest for next-generation solid state Li-ion batteries;
Glasses have a wide range of applications, but more recently they have been of interest as components for solid state batteries. These technologies are more stable, and do not require the use of hazardous liquids in order to function. EPR was used to understand how different constituents of the glass affect the conductive properties related to its function.

- Electrode materials for current generation Li-ion batteries including fast charging applications.
Li-ion batteries are a critical technology for many aspects of modern day life, and there is constant demand to develop new materials that are smaller, lighter and provide more power. However, the nature of how the materials work, and also how they degrade are not completely understood. EPR has been used to assist in understanding several processes related to this.

The project currently focuses on the development of a novel electrochemical cell suitable for EPR measurements of Li-ion battery electrode materials upon charging and discharging. This will provide insights into how these materials operate, as well as degradation processes that reduce performance. These insights are critical in the development of better performing materials, which surpass current technologies and enable development in the energy storage sector.
Exploitation Route The outcomes of this research award so far aids in the understanding of functional materials and will generally aid in the modelling and design of better performing materials. This work will be useful for industrial researchers in various sectors, as well as academic researchers who are working towards the fundamental understanding of processes underlying function, or the preparation of materials.
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description Johnson Matthey Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A number of presentations, including poster and oral presentations have been contributed to the annual conference of industrial and academic audiences. This provided a platform to share research findings, enable discussion and development of the aims and direction of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019,2020