This research area focuses on the synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of functional materials to be used in energy applications.
This area covers fundamental materials research, across the whole energy landscape, into the synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of functional materials to be used in energy applications.
It focuses on research into new and novel materials related to energy applications, including:
- alternative energy vectors
- photovoltaics (PV)
- fuel cells
- energy storage.
Materials can include, among others, polymeric, complex oxide, nanoionic, caloric and porous materials for potential future energy applications.
This area only includes research into fundamental new and novel materials for current and future energy technologies, up to proof-of-principle validation of the new material properties. Research at higher technology readiness levels (TRLs) – building on proof-of-principle (for example, optimisation of materials and devices, or technology development), structural materials development and materials engineering – are not included in this area, and are covered in related research areas.
This is a very active area of research that will have increasing relevance to key real-world challenges – especially the need to generate energy more sustainably and cost-effectively to meet UK carbon reduction targets and aid economic growth.
Stronger interdisciplinary links
The community will develop stronger interdisciplinary links. Researchers will work with research areas across the physical sciences portfolio (for example, catalysis and functional ceramics and inorganics), in conjunction with areas across the energy portfolio (including solar technology, fuel cell technology, energy storage and UK magnetic fusion).
They will do this through networks in the Supergen Programme and centres for doctoral training, and through the Faraday Institution and Sir Henry Royce Institute, to go on supporting design and evolution of new and existing materials for energy applications – and ensuring full exploitation of novel materials.
Supporting UK skills
The community will be flexible enough to adapt to significant challenges in energy demand and to retain recognised expertise within the UK. Development of materials for energy applications will make a significant contribution to ensuring the resilience and sustainability of future UK energy supply, for example by underpinning enablers for renewable energy.
Training is also key to this area, as well as to the wider energy industry. People with the right skills are needed in both industry and academia.
Researchers will continue to succeed in applying for access to international facilities (an important consideration in a constrained capital environment), and to forge strong collaborations with international groups across the materials for energy field. This includes opportunities to contribute to ensuring global access to renewable energy and materials through the Global Challenges Research Fund.
Researchers will foster strong links with the UK energy sector and industrial end-users, and support the strategies of the Advanced Materials Leadership Council, the Faraday Institution and the Sir Henry Royce Institute in the sphere of energy materials.
Building the research network
Growth in this area will be delivered through community coordination activities which will help to expand into a more unified, interdisciplinary network of researchers and industrial end-users (as in recent efforts in advanced materials for energy generation and transmission). This will enable a more systematic approach to materials development and discovery.