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Nanocomposites Group

Nanocomposites Research

Our nanocomposites capability encompasses both fundamental and applied research to manufacture innovative materials, devices and components with unique properties and tailored functionality. The breadth of industry applications includes telecommunications, electronics, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, automotive, security and medicine.

Find out more about our focus areas

About our research

Grand challenges for nanocomposites...

Our nanocomposite capability encompasses both fundamental and applied research to manufacture innovative materials, devices and components with unique properties and functionality.

We're addressing several grand challenges related to nanocomposites:

  • To understand the parameters which control the dispersion and distribution of nanoparticles in polymers
  • To characterise fully the role of the interface between matrix and nanoparticle in governing nanocomposite properties
  • To explore novel combinations of ceramic nanoparticles with polymers for enhanced electromagnetic properties
  • To link nanocomposite‚Äôs length and time scales into a unified multiscale theoretical framework for predicting their multifunctional properties

What are nanocomposites?

Nanocomposites are formed when a functional material having at least 1 dimension on the nanoscale (<100nm) is dispersed in a matrix, such as a polymer, metal or ceramic. Examples of functional materials include carbon nanotubes, graphene, nano-cellulose, inorganic nanowires, ceramics, layered silicates, layered double hydroxides, and other inorganic nanoparticles. The many unique and extraordinary properties (e.g. electrical conductivity, high current carrying density, thermal conductivity, strength, stiffness, magnetic, optical) of such functional materials can be translated to the matrix material to form a composite material having multifunctional properties including, for example, stimuli-responsive and electromagnetic induction shielding in combination with lightweight.

Focus areas

This is a summary of the key research capability areas within Nanocomposites.

Polymer chemistry and nanocomposites engineering for energy applications

Synthesis and modification of polymers and nanoparticles, Design and processing of polymer nanocomposites with enhanced thermal/electrical/electrochemical properties

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Composites of Polymers and 0D/1D/2D Materials

Fundamental understanding of the factors that determine effective dispersion of nanoparticles in polymer melts.

Functionalisation of nanomaterials to promote interfacial interaction with polymers.

Primary and Secondary Processing of Composites of Polymers and 0D/1D/2D Materials

Development of strategies for the mixing of nanoparticles in polymer melts using extrusion. Processing-structure-property studies on composites of polymers and nanoparticles. Understanding the role secondary processing, in both the melt state and during solid-state deformation, play in determined the properties of nanoparticle filled polymers.

Composite Materials for Hydrogen Economy

We develop both predictive and experimental capabilities to provide a new insight into the behaviour of polymers and composites in hydrogen and harsh gaseous environments, for their improved design and manufacturing, for applications in hydrogen transmission and storage. Our predictive capability revolves around Scientific Machine Learning that combines mechanistic and data-driven modelling of chemical and multiphysics processes (e.g. reaction rates, diffusion, deformation) in the materials across the scales from nano right up to the macroscopic/infrastructural level. Our experimental facilities consist of hydrogen permeation and mechanical testing of polymer composites across a wide range of temperatures and pressures/loads, supported by advanced microscopy techniques.

Our industrial partners include Baker Hughes Ltd, Strohm, Tata Steel UK, National Composites Centre funded through the Henry Royce Institute, Innovate UK, or Strategic Catapult Programme in Hydrogen.

Success stories
Research that generates impact

Explore the solutions that we create and the impact that we generate in response to societal, industrial and environmental challenges.

Nanocomposites - Recent Publications

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