Nanoscale modification of a material’s surface is important for many applications, such as gas sensors, fuel cells, electrolysers, and water splitting cells. It is at the surface where the catalytic and electrochemical reactions occur. For such applications it is of critical importance to be able to create surfaces with large surface areas with a high degree of porosity to enable more reactions to take place and with increased efficiency. Typically, wet chemical deposition methods or microfabrication techniques are used to modify the surface. The wet chemical process suffers from homogeneity issues and requires thick layers (>100nm) while microfabrication is time and cost intensive. This project will tackle the necessity for miniaturization of surface structures and the reduction of material processing costs by investigating a novel one-step, high-particle flux, dry plasma process.
The project aims are to:
- provide insight into the growth kinetics that drive nanoscale modification under high-flux plasma condition and determine how key properties change (e.g. surface area, length, diameter) under different plasma conditions.
- advance the understanding of the physical plasma processes (particle flux, ionic and neutral species, sputtering) that may drive or inhibit nanostructure formation.
- test the performance of nanostructured material for real-world applications.
You will be guaranteed a stimulating and scientifically challenging project, and will have exposure to experimental and modelling works, such as plasma and material characterization, diagnostic design, and simulations involved in this project.
Any prior experience with plasma physics, materials science, X-ray scattering, or computational modelling would greatly beneficial to prospective students. Students do not require experience in all of these areas: there is scope to tailor a specific project to your strengths.