Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Functional ceramics and inorganics

This research area focuses on the synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of functional ceramic and inorganic materials.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This research area focuses on the synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of functional ceramic and inorganic materials. It includes:

  • electroceramics (including ferroelectric, multiferroic and piezoelectric materials)
  • complex oxides
  • solid state materials chemistry
  • inorganic 2D materials
  • inorganic framework materials
  • porous materials.

It does not include materials processing, materials for energy applications, or photonic, magnetic, superconducting, polymeric or composite materials. These are covered by related areas.

We will continue to support world-leading experimental and theoretical research in functional ceramics and inorganics discovery and design, while maximising the impact of these activities.

Advanced materials, including those covered by this research area, have transformative potential in economic, environmental and societal terms, and this area will make a significant and distinctive contribution to delivering against that key agenda. Research in this area is central to addressing current and future national challenges related to sustainability and resource efficiency.

To achieve such impact, we expect increased levels of collaboration between fundamental research in functional ceramics and inorganics, and complementary investments and areas, for example:

In addition, following the large capital investment in the Sir Henry Royce Institute, researchers should exploit this capability. Any further investment should be complementary to this, to avoid duplication and maximise benefits.

Advanced materials is highlighted as a major cross-cutting theme in terms of the EPSRC outcomes. To achieve these outcomes, links should be developed between researchers in this area and those in application-driven areas including:

We encourage ambitious projects that address the challenges identified by the Advanced Materials Leadership Council (AMLC) where they align with our priorities.

AMLC themes relevant to researchers in this community are:

  • materials for functional systems
  • design of materials and processes
  • materials for communications and electronics
  • materials for demanding environments.

Why we're doing it

The importance of advanced materials was recognised by the formation of the Advanced Materials Leadership Council (AMLC), and the UK has an opportunity to make a significant contribution. A number of the key materials highlighted – for example, piezoelectric ceramics and advanced nanomaterials – fall within this research area, therefore alignment between investments in this area and the challenges identified are expected and encouraged.

Specifically, fundamental understanding of complex inorganic materials – for example ferroics and ferroelectrics, magnetism, bulk materials and oxide and non-oxide thin films – and their synthesis is a UK strength. So too are materials modelling and simulation.

There is strong, growing industry interest in UK university-based research and development and the area is seen as business-critical in a range of sectors, including energy, chemicals, engineering, manufacturing, automotive and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Links with these should be strengthened and further exploited.

Research activity in this area is geographically diverse and provides opportunities across all career stages, including in support for and development of research/community leaders.

Students in this area are trained through our centres for doctoral training (CDTs), Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentship, providing a healthy balance that should be maintained.

Researchers make use of large facilities such as Diamond Light Source and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. Mid-range facilities are also relevant, especially for characterisation and structural analysis of advanced functional materials.

For continued success in materials modelling and simulation, access to high performance computing facilities is necessary. The Advanced Research Computing High End Resource (ARCHER2) is accessible through routes such as the Materials Chemistry Consortium (MCC). A Tier 2 Hub in Materials and Molecular Modelling also provides capability.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Functional Ceramics and Inorganics.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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