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Energy Materials and Catalysis

Developing, understanding and applying novel materials for energy and catalysis research

Our research

As climate change brings increasing global challenges, it’s never been more important to develop sustainable energy systems for the future. Energy materials and catalysis research focuses upon the development, understanding and application of novel materials for energy applications.

Our work incorporates strong applied perspectives on Energy research, underpinned by fundamental chemical understanding. We aim to enable the low-carbon transition in the UK and internationally.

Our research centres on the following themes:

  • photovoltaics and photocatalysts
  • electrochemistry and energy storage
  • organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs)
  • computational materials science
  • catalysis

We focus on rapid development of new materials to address urgent societal challenges. We collaborate with disciplines including physics and engineering to achieve a molecule-to-system perspective.

Research Themes

Photovoltaics and Photocatalysts

We are developing and exploiting new solar cell technology and water-splitting cells. We aim to:

  • combine understanding and design to improve the efficiency of dye sensitized solar cells and water-splitting cells.
  • develop and optimise indoor photovoltaics and use them to power the Internet of Things.
  • design hybrid photocatalytic systems provide tha address the challenge of coupling light absorption with multi-electron chemistry.

We address the scientific and technological challenges required to transform the use of solar energy. Our multi-disiplinary approach means we can work across the legnth scales reducing payback time, improving manufacturability and innovate the technology for integration into buildings or devices. 

Computational Materials Science

We use high-performance computing in combination with experimental methods to:

  • understand excited state properties of energy materials
  • describe and control interfacial properties in materials, especially those involved in electrochemical energy storage.
  • predict and interpret spectroscopic experiments on materials and catalysts

Our research uses a wide range of techniques in our work, but our focus is on the atomistic modelling of energy materials through:

  • classical and ab initio molecular dynamics
  • quantum dynamics
  • data science and machine learning


We focus on developing new catalysts and improving existing catalytic transformations. Examples of systems under investigation include:

  • The use of polymer immobilised ionic liquids (PIILs) to enhance reactions rate and lifetime of existing catalysts.
  • Exploting the reactivity of functionalised and electron-rich polyoxometalates as nanoscale catalytic building blocks.
  • Photocatalysis for solar fuels
  • Plasmon-induced catalysis using hybrid organic-inorganic materials.


Our research is underpinned by state-of-the-art techniques for materials characterization to connect the fundamental research carried out at the molecular level and the events that take place during operation of a catalyst.




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