Advanced Materials for Energy and Industry (Brown(I), Kemmitt, MacKenzie)

The research will design and develop new inorganic nano- and microstructures in ceramic and metal hybrid materials through precise control of chemical and electrochemical fabrication techniques.  This will provide new materials to benefit New Zealand’s ceramic export industry and will provide new approaches to the use of renewable energy resources, notably hydrogen and solar. In particular, nano-structuring of ceramics can deliver unique properties to enable applications not accessible via more conventional macro-chemical approaches. We will build on our knowledge of porous nano-structured ceramic array fabrication to develop new hybrid materials with controllable functionality.  Ultrathin metal or oxide coatings suspended across these arrays will enable selective purification of hydrogen or oxygen from mixed gas streams. The arrays will also act as supports for nanoscale catalysts for reforming fuel gases such as ammonia and ethanol.  Further, the arrays will also be used as templates for precision growth of metal nanowires for device applications, including electrodes for photovoltaic and other devices. This approach to nano- and microstructure control of ceramics will inform new research seeking to develop improved electrical and thermal conductivity in industrially important ‘sialon’ ceramics and composites. The fabrication techniques developed here link directly to the production of new hybrid materials for catalysis detailed in Objective 3.