Functional Materials

Functional Materials

About the group

In the Functional Materials group we have a range of exciting research interests from the coating and surface modification of materials to the development of processes for the circular economy.

We have developed methods for the selective metallisation of non-conductive and dielectric materials. This includes the formulation of novel ink-jettable catalytic inks for electroless plating, conductive inks and PVD deposition to create circuitry and sensors on textiles. Applications for these ‘E-Textiles’ have been found in assistive technology and wearable electronics.

We have also worked to develop a new ‘magnetic-catalytic’ composite nanoparticle for the manufacture of aerials, whilst the team’s expertise in electrochemistry has been successfully applied to the development of lead-free coatings for engine bearings, composite electrodeposits and coatings to enhance the properties of additively manufactured parts.

The group is fully committed to developing processes for the circular economy. Current research includes the development of a novel electrolyser for the generation of hydrogen from ammonia captured from municipal waste. In a highly innovative approach to precious metal recovery, the Functional Materials and Bioleaching groups are working to develop techniques to recover precious metals from electronic waste using a combination of living organisms and electrowinning.

Other active areas of research include the formulation of conductive paints to protect steel reinforced concrete, the development of novel polymers and the use of ultrasound to enhance chemical and electrochemical processes.

The Functional Materials Group aims to add functionality and value to a wide variety of materials. This will be achieved through interdisciplinary, collaborative research, developing technologies that are sustainable, have low environmental impact whilst still being industrially relevant and scalable.

The groups’ expertise and research areas currently include:

Metallisation Processes

  • Electrochemical deposition of metals, alloys and composites using direct current and pulse plating
  • Electroless deposition of Cu, Ni-P and Ni-B
  • Selective metallisation of textiles and fabrics to produce smart materials
  • Selective Metallisation of other non-conductive materials e.g. polymers, creamics, di-electrics
  • Metallisation of nano and micro particles
  • Electroforming
  • Ultrasonically enhanced electrochemical deposition

Surface Modification

  • Physical modification of surfaces (roughening or smoothing)
  • Chemical Functionalisation of surfaces
  • Ultrasonic surface modification of materials

Electrochemical processes

  • The use electrochemistry to convert waste to energy

Sonochemistry and Ultrasound

  • The application of ultrasound with a range a frequencies (20 kHz-1MHz) to enhance chemical and electrochemical processes.

Projects

Metallisation of Textiles to make Urban living for Older people more Independent and Fashionable (MATUROLIFE)

Funder – EU, H2020

Total Project - €6 million; Lead partner – Coventry University

Project Abstract - The overall objective of the MATUROLIFE project is to put creative and artistic design at the heart of innovation journey. Design will be coupled with advanced materials innovations to produce high added value, aesthetically pleasing and functional products for Assistive Technology (AT) making urban living for older people easier, and more independent. This ambitious project will bring together SMEs operating in the creative industries, with scientists working on cutting edge advances in electrochemistry and nanotechnology. Through the involvement of SMEs in the materials supply chain highly innovative, conductive, multi-functional smart textiles and fabrics will be produced to enable the production of novel AT prototypes. The new emerging AT products will address current and future societal challenge on urban living for older people whilst assuring competitive and sustainable development of SMEs. 

KTP with Renishaw 

Funder – Innovate UK; Total Project –approx. £120K

Project Abstract - The USE-AM project (Ultrasonic erosion of AM parts) will combine sonochemical and electrochemical processes to the finishing of internal and external surfaces produced in additive layer manufacturing (ALM).

PhD Studentship – Electrochemical Deposition of Composite Coatings using Particles from Sustainable Resources

Project abstract -  The electrochemical co-deposition of particles sourced from natural or waste products. Studies will involve determining the effect of these particles on the mechanical and tribological properties of deposit, the grain structure of the electroplated metal and other important properties such as corrosion resistance. The objective is to create more sustainable multi-functional composite coatings. 

PhD Studentship – Selective Metallisation of Non-Conductive Materials by Electrochemical Deposition in a Magnetic Field 
Project abstract - The synthesis and selective deposition of magnetic/catalytic particles to initiate selective electroless deposition onto non-conductive materials

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