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Materials and Physics

Members of this large and prestigious Research Group are drawn from experimental, computational and theoretical areas of physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics. Our research focusses on applied optics, complexity and nonlinear photonics, hydrogen storage, photovoltaics, functionalization of graphene, semiconductor materials and thin films. Our well-equipped laboratories include various spectroscopy facilities (e.g. Raman, photoluminescence, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, spectrophotometry), chemical vapour deposition, high performance computing facilities, high pressure facilities (up to 2 Kbar high pressure gas facility and diamond anvil cells for experiments up to 1 Mbar), X-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopy.  We are regular users at national and international facilities such as Diamond Light Source (, ISIS ( and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (

We are extremely well served with respect to the provision and operation of specialised infrastructure and facilities.  Our researchers benefit from the specialist facilities outlined below, which in total cost our University just over £1.5 million annually to run.  In addition,  we have benefited from University capital expenditure of just over £5 million through the 2008-2013 period, which has been used to augment our state-of-the-art provision.

  • Salford Analytical Services (SAS) is responsible for operating a range of modern characterisation equipment - XRD, SEM, MS, TEM, TGA, DSC, NMR, etc. While SAS also accepts commercial contracts, their equipment is made available to our Research    Centre members. The unit is staffed by three experienced technical officers who maintain and enhance our modern equipment base.  
  • The Research Centre also maintains an in-house High Performance Computing facility and associated workstations which, in conjunction with our access to the National Computing Facilities, supports the computational modelling research.  
  • A Video Feedback Laboratory has been developed to support theoretical modelling activities, and is also used within our programmes of Public Understanding and Outreach.  
  • A High Pressure Gas Laboratory has been set up for investigations of hydrogen absorption and for hydrogen storage applications (automated gravimetric and volumetric instrumentation).  
  • Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Vapour Deposition (APCVD) Laboratories have been established for developing new surface coating techniques with greater application to industrial wide area in-line processes. This followed the completion of a Wolfson award for refurbishment, and forward research in the APCVD laboratories that includes increasing both the range of materials possible and their thin film functionalities.
  • A Laser Laboratory is fully equipped for operating high power lasers, including a femto-second pump probe facility, in a safe environment. A new Raman Scattering Facility has recently been commissioned, specifically designed for use with high pressure diamond anvil cells.

A significant proportion of our research is focused on the area of renewable technologies, including photovoltaics and energy storage systems. Part of the outputs from our research contributes to reducing the environmental impact of our main university campus. The University has an Energy Team dedicated  to reducing the carbon footprint of the campus and has adopted technologies developed by our Research Centre. This work is focused on the Energy House, described above.

A selection of specific Materials & Physics research equipment is listed on the Physics Facilities page.

Stuart Astin
Daniel Bull
James Christian
Mark Hughes

Graham McDonald
Ian Morrison
Geoff Parr
Richard Pilkington

John Proctor
Tiehan Shen
Stanko Tomic
Heather Yates

  • Deposition of Transparent Conducting Oxides to optimize solar cell performance. Silicon ( ) and perovskite (
  • Flame-Assisted CVD for fabrication of novel anti-reflection coatings.
  • Deposition and characterisation of antibacterial thin film coatings
  • Development of atmospheric plasma CVD system for low temperature flexible substrates.
  • Optimisation of Dye cell performance via APCVD thin films.
  • Ab-initio computational studies of hydrogen storage materials.
  • Ab-initio computational studies of hydrogen diffusion in metals.
  • Quantum technology applications of rare-earth doped semiconductors.
  • Bismuth implanted optoelectronic materials and devices.
  • Thin film chalcogenides based resistive switching devices.
  • Chalcogenide optoelectronic devices.
  • Carbon nanotube optoelectronic devices.
  • Ultrafast laser written optical waveguides.
  • Bismuth doped glasses.
  • Use of extreme conditions to chemically modify graphene.
  • Properties of ices in the conditions found in the major and outer planets.
  • Development of novel systems for behavioural ecotoxicity testing with shrimps.
  • Characterization of novel titanium alloys using synchrotron X-ray diffraction.
  • Characterization of delayed hydride cracking (DHC) mechanism in nuclear fuel cladding.

Our research activities receive strong support from a wide range of funders.  For example, during the period 2008-2013, the Materials & Physics Research Centre was awarded total funding in the region of £6.2 million.  Key funding highlights were:

  • EPSRC grant fundings (with Royal Society, British Academy and Royal Society of Edinburgh) amounting to £2,631,000. It should be noted that this portfolio includes two Case awards and two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, indicating the effectiveness of our industrial links;  
  • FP6/7 European funding in chemical vapour deposition and hydrogen storage, with grants totalling £1,088,250. These each form part of large European collaborations and Centre staff have acted as both Coordinator (e.g. in HyTRAIN) and Work-Package Leaders (e.g. in NESSHy (2), HySIC, N2P and PLIANT) in    connection with these grants;  
  • Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and central government funding.  For example, funding for the Joule (Energy Research) Centre totalled £1,738,504 - which included a large direct NWDA grant to build the Energy House. This major project involved building a typical Salford terrace house within a concrete vault. The house has been fully equipped with temperature sensors and can be exposed to carefully-controlled external weather profiles, so that it can be used to evaluate retrofit    thermal insulation under typical reproducible conditions. The facility is now widely recognised as providing an authoritative measure of the effectiveness of retrofitting thermal insulation and is being used by a wide range of commercial collaborators;  
  • Awards to Centre members for use of Central Facilities - particularly ISIS at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory in Oxfordshire, the ILL (Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France) and the UK’s national synchrotron (the Diamond Light Source). This funding in kind amounts to £824,968, and was    awarded within an environment of strong international competition for the limited number of instrument-days available at such facilities. Moreover, two of our ISIS experiments have been selected by the facility as scientific highlights.

“Growth patterns and properties of aerosol-assisted chemical vapor deposition of CH3NH3PbI3 films in a single step” – Mohammed Afzaal and Heather M. Yates, Surf. Coat. Tech. 321, 336 (2017)

“Platinum composite nanowires for ultrasensitive mass detection” – Tingting Hao, Tiehan H. Shen et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 110, 143102 (2017)

“Direct observation of cation distributions of ideal inverse spinel CoFe2O4 nanofibres and correlated magnetic properties” - Xue Zeng,  Junwei Zhang,  Shimeng Zhu,  Xia Deng, Hongbin Ma,  Junli Zhang,  Qiang Zhang, Peng Li,  Desheng Xue,  Nigel J. Mellors,  Xixiang Zhang and  Yong Peng, Nanoscale (accepted) (2017),

“On the high-pressure phase stability and elastic properties of β-titanium alloys” - Dean Smith, Oliver P. J. Joris, Ananthi Sankaran, Hannah E. Weekes, Daniel J. Bull, Timothy J. Prior, David Dye, Daniel Errandonea and John E Proctor, J. Phys.: Cond. Mat. 29, 155401 (2017)

“Spontaneous spatial fractal pattern formation in dispersive systems” - J. G. Huang, James M. Christian and Graham S. McDonald, Journal of Nonlinear Optical Physics and Materials 26, 1750009 (2017)

“Low temperature pulsed direct current magnetron sputtering technique for single phase β-In2S3 buffer layers for solar cell applications” - Sreejith Karthikeyan, Arthur E. Hill and Richard D. Pilkington, Appl. Surf. Sci. (accepted) (2017)

“Transparent Conductive Oxide Films for High-Performance Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells” - Umer Mehmood, Mohammad Afzaal, Amir Al-Ahmed, Heather M. Yates, Abbas S. Hakeem, Haider Ali, and Fahad A. Al-Sulaiman, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 7, 518 (2017)

“Progression towards high efficiency perovskite solar cells via optimisation of the front electrode and blocking layer” - Heather M. Yates, Mohammad Afzaal, Arnaud Walter, John L. Hodgkinson, Soo-Jin Moon, Davide Sacchetto, Matthias Bräuninger, Björn Niesen, Sylvain Nicolay, Melissa McCarthy, Martyn E. Pemble, Ian M. Povey and Christophe Ballif, Journal of Materials Chemistry C (accepted).

“An Introduction to Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes” – John E. Proctor, Daniel Melendrez Armada and Aravind Vijayaraghavan, CRC Press (January 2017).

“Influence of elevated radiative lifetime on efficiency of CdSe/CdTe Type II colloidal quantum dot based solar cells” - Marina A. Leontiadou, Edward J. Tyrrell, Charles T. Smith, Daniel Espinobarro-Velazquez, Robert Page, Paul O¿Brien, Jacek Miloszewski, Thomas Walsh, David Binks, Stanko Tomic, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 159, 657 (January 2017).

“Energy structure of CdSe/CdTe type II colloidal quantum dots—Do phonon bottlenecks remain for thick shells?” - Charles T. Smith, Edward J. Tyrrell, Marina A. Leontiadou, Jacek Miloszewski, Thomas Walsh, Musa Cadirci, Robert Page, Paul O¿Brien, David Binks, Stanko Tomic, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 158, 160 (December 2016).

“Monazite-type SrCrO4 under compression” - J. Gleissner, D. Errandonea, A. Segura, J. Pellicer-Porres, M. A. Hakeem, J. E. Proctor, S. V. Raju, R. S. Kumar, P. Rodríguez-Hernández, A. Muñoz, S. Lopez-Moreno, and M. Bettinelli, Physical Review B 94, 134108 (October 2016).

“Aerosol-assisted CVD of cadmium diselenoimidodiphosphinate and formation of a new iPr2N2P3+ ion supported by combined DFT and mass spectrometric studies” - Temidayo Oyetunde, Mohammad Afzaal, Mark A. Vincent and Paul O’Brien, Dalton Transactions 45, 18603 (October 2016).

“Translation Effects in Fluorine Doped Tin Oxide Thin Film Properties by Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Vapour Deposition” - Mohammad Afzaal, Heather M. Yates and John L. Hodgkinson, Coatings 6, 43 (October 2016).

“Exact dipole solitary wave solution in metamaterials with higher-order dispersion” – X. Min, R. Yang, J. Tian, W. Xue and J.M. Christian, Journal of Modern Optics (May 2016).

“Silicon-Modified rare-earth transitions - a new route to Near- and Mid-IR Photonics” – Manon A. Lourenço, Mark A. Hughes, Khue T. Lai, Imran M. Sofi, Willy Ludurczak, Lewis Wong, Russell M. Gwilliam, Kevin P. Homewood, Advanced Functional Materials 26, 1986 (February 2016).

“Optimised atmospheric pressure CVD of monoclinic VO2 thin films with picosecond phase transition” - Jeffrey M. Gaskell, Mohammad Afzaal, David W. Sheel, Heather M. Yates, Kaveh Delfanazari and Otto L. Muskens, Surface and Coatings Technology 287, 160 (February 2016).

“Design of Core/Shell Colloidal Quantum Dots for MEG Solar Cells” - Stanko Tomic, Jacek M. Miloszewski, Edward J. Tyrrell, David J. Binks, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 6, 179 (January 2016).

  • Ab-initio studies of quantum diffusion in solids including hydrogen diffusion in metals.
  • Ab-initio computational studies of stability of hydrogen storage materials.Extreme conditions (high pressure, high temperature).
  • Graphene.
  • Development of novel hydrogen storage materials.
  • Synthesis of nanodiamond.
  • Development of CVD system for deposition of perovskite thin films.
  • APCVD for multifunctional thin films eg anti-reflection, biocidal.
  • The development of thin films for efficient PV applications.
  • Development of atmospheric plasma CVD system.
  • Shape and orientation control of one dimensional nanowires.

Dr John Proctor
+44 161 2950176