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Materials Chemistry: Structure and Function

We use a wide range of techniques, including solid state NMR and diffraction, to investigate local structure and the role that this plays in controlling the physical properties of a wide range of technologically-important materials. Conventional structural techniques, such as powder and single-crystal X-ray and neutron diffraction, characterize the long-range order, giving an average view of a structure; as a system becomes more disordered, these methods become progressively less useful. Even the most disordered system will, however, contain some local order. Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) probes the local environment of a particular nucleus, and is ideally suited to study such materials. By using a combination of short range (NMR) and long range (XRD) structural techniques, we can build up a detailed structure of the compound - this helps determine how the particular material functions and provides insight as to how it can be improved. Ab intio simulations provide complementary information concerning structure and dynamics.

The materials we investigate have applications in supercapacitors, fuel cells, and batteries. Our current research projects are described below and a full list of publications is available here.