Ceramic property variation as a function of water corrosion at interfaces

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Materials


This project focuses on understanding the effect of supercritical and high-temperature water on forsterite, the magnesium end-member of the olivine mineral series, an emerging engineering ceramic and major component of the upper mantle. The primary aim is to understand how the presence of water affects the grain boundary character distribution and how it incorporates into the forsterite structure (in the bulk vs at interfaces). I will synthesise forsterite and use novel electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and transmission Kikuchi diffraction (TKD) techniques to look at the interfacial distribution, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to study the interfacial structure, and infrared spectroscopy to look at hydrogen incorporation. By developing an understanding of the interfacial structure and how this changes with water content, the applications of forsterite can be widened, and a greater understanding of the Earth's structure and dynamics can be achieved.

Planned Impact

The production and processing of materials accounts for 15% of UK GDP and generates exports valued at £50bn annually, with UK materials related industries having a turnover of £197bn/year. It is, therefore, clear that the success of the UK economy is linked to the success of high value materials manufacturing, spanning a broad range of industrial sectors. In order to remain competitive and innovate in these sectors it is necessary to understand fundamental properties and critical processes at a range of length scales and dynamically and link these to the materials' performance. It is in this underpinning space that the CDT-ACM fits.

The impact of the CDT will be wide reaching, encompassing all organisations who research, manufacture or use advanced materials in sectors ranging from energy and transport to healthcare and the environment. Industry will benefit from the supply of highly skilled research scientists and engineers with the training necessary to advance materials development in all of these crucial areas. UK and international research facilities (Diamond, ISIS, ILL etc.) will benefit greatly from the supply of trained researchers who have both in-depth knowledge of advanced characterisation techniques and a broad understanding of materials and their properties. UK academia will benefit from a pipeline of researchers trained in state-of the art techniques in world leading research groups, who will be in prime positions to win prestigious fellowships and lectureships. From a broader perspective, society in general will benefit from the range of planned outreach activities, such as the Mary Rose Trust, the Royal Society Summer Exhibition and visits to schools. These activities will both inform the general public and inspire the next generation of scientists.

The cohort based training offered by the CDT-ACM will provide the next generation of research scientists and engineers who will pioneer new research techniques, design new multi-instrument workflows and advance our knowledge in diverse fields. We will produce 70 highly qualified and skilled researchers who will support the development of new technologies, in for instance the field of electric vehicles, an area of direct relevance to the UK industrial impact strategy.
In summary, the CDT will address a skills gap that has arisen through the rapid development of new characterisation techniques; therefore, it will have a positive impact on industry, research facilities and academia and, consequently, wider society by consolidating and strengthening UK leadership in this field.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023259/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2444037 Studentship EP/S023259/1 05/10/2020 04/10/2024 Alexandra Austin