Category Archives: Advanced materials

Art explaining semiconductors


Sensing colours, photo collage. Image: Nedyalka Panova (2016)

The use of creative art for explaining
organic semiconductors

Nedyalka Panova (artist-in-residence) | Organic Semiconductor Centre,
School of Physics & Astronomy

My work explores the boundaries between art and science, organic and inorganic, natural, synthetic and manmade.  I work in collaboration with the Organic Semiconductor Centre led by Prof Ifor Samuel on “The use of creative art for explaining organic semiconductors”. The purpose of the project is to give a higher visibility to the interesting phenomenon of organic semiconductors using their aesthetic values.

Interdisciplinary collaboration such as this, between artists and scientists, is an increasingly popular way to bridge the gap between ‘arts and humanities’ and ‘science and technology’. It brings together experts from different fields and the outcome is art exhibitions for public domain.

While the concept of colours and shapes of natural materials inspires artists over centuries in their studies of nature, material science progress by scientists has created a new range of synthetic materials which are manufactured using completely different set up and equipment.  In this context, contemporary art and science starts asking new questions: How can art respond to the colours that are invisible to visible light?  How can invisible 2D imprinted patterns be used as colours and structures? The line between the past and the future of modern technological world is drawn with a nanoscale precision and the question is: Are these new technological tools also a new media for creative endeavours?

Organic semiconductors combine properties of both metals and organic polymers with their capacity to conduct electricity. This opens new doors for applications in light communication, organic LED displays, healthcare and harvesting energy from abundant natural sources such as sun light. Their general target is to offer an alternative solution to the existing inorganic electronic components or to combine the best of both worlds in a new generation of hybrid devices.


Arabidopsis Thaliana seeds germination used for explosive sensing. Image: Nedyalka Panova (2016)

Energy materials platform


Energy materials platform

Prof. John T.S. Irvine, Dr Scott J. Lilley & Dr Stefan Saxin| School of Chemistry

The JTSI group investigates new materials for energy applications. We do this by studying the atomic structure of important chemicals and materials. This allows us to design new materials with improved properties. We can then develop efficient technologies to heat and power homes, businesses, and vehicles. Our devices use conventional fuels but waste far less energy so they do far less harm to the environment. In some cases, carbon dioxide emissions can be all but eliminated. Our batteries store electricity on a vast scale. This enables reliable, low cost, low emission power.

Our project builds links with industry to drive forward the commercialisation of our technologies. We have established a company to develop fuel cell golf buggies and utility vehicles. We began a collaborative project to develop low carbon heat and power systems for the home. And we built a collaboration to commercialise grid-level energy storage.



Dr Scott J. Lilley


Porous materials for medical applications

Development of prototype MOF/polymer coatings for medical applications

Dr Stewart Warrender| School of Chemistry

On any given day, approximately one in 25 US patients has at least one infection contracted during the course of their hospital care, demonstrating the need for improved infection control in healthcare facilities. The majority of these infections result from the handling and insertion of some form of device into the body, such as a central line into the bloodstream or urinary catheterisation. Research has shown that when specific preventative steps are taken, the rates of infection can be drastically decreased by up to 70%.

The biologically active gas nitric oxide (NO) could help in the fight against such infections. NO plays an important signalling role in numerous pathways within the body triggering vasodilatory (increasing blood flow), anti-thrombotic and angiogenetic (new blood vessel growth) properties as well as being a broad spectrum antimicrobial agent. However, to date, there are no commercially available products that allow the controlled delivery of NO – primarily due to its physical nature (i.e. a gas) and the requirement to deliver specific doses.

With this in mind, we are developing porous powders called metal organic framework (MOFs) that are able to store and controllably release NO. These powders can be incorporated into coatings on medical devices and can be designed to deliver NO at the correct doses and over appropriate time scales to prevent infection. Furthermore, by using antimicrobial metal ions in the MOF frameworks additional efficacy can be imparted. The technology, which has the potential to reduce healthcare associated infections and procedural complications, is the basis for a new spin-out company called MOFgen Ltd.

Synthesis of ultra-fine chemicals


Multi-gram scale synthesis of cyclic phosphorous compounds for ultra-fine chemical suppliers

Dr José A. Fuentes & Dr Matt L. Clarke  | School of Chemistry

Catalysts are widely used to speed up chemical reactions without actually getting used up in the process. They are one of the core aspects of making greener chemistry.

A few years ago, we were fortunate to develop an important catalyst with unique selectivity in one of the world’s most important types of carbon-carbon bond forming reactions. This reaction is used to make components of many of the things around you as you read this! These include, paints, flavours, biocompatible polyester plastics, PVC, fragrances, sun tan lotion, and pharmaceuticals. The list is nearly endless.

The catalyst we use for this is quite complex and was only prepared in tiny amounts to do research. However, in this project we wanted to make the catalyst available to the research community through a chemical catalogue company. In order to do this, it was necessary to refine a more cost effective procedure that saved on solvents, time, reagents and purification, as well as to initiate collaboration with a catalogue company to sell research samples of the compound. This was successfully achieved in a short timescale (12 weeks).

The catalyst is now available from Strem Chemicals (USA). It is hoped these research samples will lead to an end-user identifying their own application for our catalyst and a subsequent large-scale usage. In addition to this, we envisaged that one of the precursors for our catalyst could be transformed into another related catalyst, and that customers could be found who would wish to buy larger amounts than can economically be purchased at present.


TADF emitters for electroluminescent devices


Demonstration of high efficiency electroluminescent
devices employing thermally activated delayed
fluorescence (TADF) emitters

Dr Eli Zysman-Colman  | School of Chemistry

Compounds emitting from a thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) mechanism can harvest both singlet and triplet excitons, which traditional fluorescent emitters are unable to achieve. OLEDs fabricated from these materials have achieved impressive and competitive performance compared to traditional phosphorescent emitters based on expensive iridium(III) and platinum(II) rare metals. In this poster, I will present our recent work on small molecule organic TADF emitters for electroluminescent devices.  These materials offer a cheaper and more sustainably alternative to phosphorescent materials, which are the present state-of-the-art materials.