Capability and Capacity

This statement was collated from workshops in June 2017.

Model and Measure

We have a comprehensive multiscale capability in modelling, ranging from electronic structure, through the mesoscale, to bulk material simulation.  We apply methods to study the structure, dynamics and properties of a wide range of surfaces and interfaces, with a central aim of integrating simulation alongside experimental measurement and the synthesis/manufacturing processes to constantly inform one another at all stages.  As well as standard modelling techniques (DFT, MD, FEA etc.) unique specialisms to Lancaster MSI include quantum Monte Carlo, free energy calculations, quantum transport and heavy element modelling (nuclear materials, actinides).

Measurement capability in the Lancaster MSI spans length scales from the atomic (single atom) to the meso scale.  Our range of expertise and facilities enable us to work across a wide range of applications in surfaces and interfaces, including molecular coatings, structures and devices, battery electrochemistry and electrocatalysis, 2D materials, energy materials, porous materials and biological interfaces and interactions.  Unique facilities at the Lancaster MSI include 3D mapping of internal structure (BEXSP), in-situ NMR of disordered, amorphous and multiphase materials, nanothermal and nanomechanical measurement and atomic scale and single molecule resolution characterisation.

Make and Apply

We manipulate materials at surfaces and interfaces over a large range of length scales from small organic molecules (nm) to composites for the building industry (meters). And, a recent expansion in synthetic chemistry has added significant capacity, bridging the gap between the classically hard engineering materials and soft biomaterials.

Surface features and structured thin films can be engineered in-situ with sub-µm precision using laser sintering, milling and machining.  Energy- and material-"efficient" surface processing are achieved by multi-material additive manufacturing and carbon dioxide processing.

Surface molecular functionalisation is achievable via two principle methods: first, ex-situ chemical synthesis, where after, the new chemistry is transferred to substrates and/or devices; this mode of surface functionalisation is applied in applications spanning gas absorption, energy storage and generation, and biologically active molecular immobilisations. Second, we specialise in plasma polymerisation, a scalable gas-phase coating technique that is industry-applied across a broad range of materials to create nanoscale coatings for interfacial engineering, from high-performance fibre composites through to implantable biomaterials. 

The design of new surfaces and interfaces is inherently influenced by the chosen application and environment. Under testing laboratory conditions, performance is monitored and optimised via Lancaster’s world-leading modelling and measurement capabilities. In real-world applications, novel surfaces and coatings provide the platform for building novel sensors for applications in human health through to critical, demanding environments requiring self-monitoring, -healing and -adapting.