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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 (

  • 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.

Stuart Astin
Daniel Bull
Prof Allan Boardman 
James Christian
Mark Hughes
Marina Leontiadou
Graham McDonald
Prof Jim McNiff
Ian Morrison
Geoff Parr
Richard Pilkington
John Proctor
Tiehan Shen
Stanko Tomic
Heather Yates

Group publications June 2017 to date

“High pressure Raman, optical absorption and resistivity study of SrCrO4” – M.A. Hakeem, D. Jackson, J. Hamlin, D. Errandonea, J.E. Proctor and M. Bettinelli, Inorganic Chemistry (accepted, 2018)

“High speed chalcogenide glass electrochemical metallization cells with various active metals” – M.A. Hughes, A. Burgess, S. Hinder, A. Gholizadeh, C. Craig and D.W. Hewak, Nanotechnology 29, 315202 (2018)

“Liquid mysteries” – J.E. Proctor, Physics World (May 2018)

“Measuring Polarisation” – T. Shen and J.S. Cook, US Patent application US20180058934A1 (March 2018)

“Roll to roll atmospheric pressure plasma enhanced CVD of titania as a step towards the realisation of large area perovskite solar cell technology” – J.L. Hodgkinson, H.M. Yates, A. Walter, D. Sacchetto, S.-J. Moon and S. Nicolay, J. Mater. Chem. C 6, 1988 (2018)

“Identification of conductivity in inhomogeneous orthotropic media” – M.S. Mahmood and D. Lesnic, International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat and Fluid Flow (accepted, 2018)

“Efficient Steplike Carrier Multiplication in Percolative Networks of Epitaxially Connected PbSe Nanocrystals” - Aditya Kulkarni , Wiel H. Evers, Stanko Tomić, Matthew C. Beard, Daniel Vanmaekelbergh, and Laurens D. A. Siebbeles, ACS Nano 12, 378 (2018)

“Spatial algebraic solitons at the Dirac point in optically induced nonlinear photonic lattices” – K. Xie, A.D. Boardman et al., Optics Express 25, 30349 (2017)

“Quantum Engineering of InAs/GaAs Quantum Dot Based Intermediate Band Solar Cells” - Neil S. Beattie, Patrick See, Guillaume Zoppi, Palat M. Ushasree, Martial Duchamp, Ian Farrer, David A. Ritchie, and Stanko Tomić, ACS Photonics 4, 2745 (2017)

“Ultrafast Charge Dynamics in Dispersions of Monolayer MoS2 Nanosheets” – G. Kime, M.A. Leontiadou, J.R. Brent, N. Savjani, P. O’Brien and D. Binks, J. Phys. Chem. C 121, 22415 (2017)

“Crossover between liquid-like and gas-like behavior in CH4 at 400 K” - D. Smith, M. A. Hakeem, P. Parisiades, H. E. Maynard-Casely, D. Foster, D. Eden, D. J. Bull, A. R. L. Marshall, A. M. Adawi, R. Howie, A. Sapelkin, V. V. Brazhkin, and J. E. Proctor, Phys. Rev. E 96, 052113 (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, Richard D. Pilkington, Appl. Surf. Sci 418, 199 (2017)

“Determining Molecular Orientation via Single Molecule SERS in a Plasmonic Nano-gap” – A.R.L. Marshall, J. Stokes, F.N. Viscomi, J.E. Proctor, J. Gierschner, J.-S. Bouillard and A.M. Adawi, Nanoscale 9, 17415 (2017)

“Waves in hyperbolic and double negative metamaterials including rogues and solitons” – A.D. Boardman, A. Alberucci, G. Assanto, V.V. Grimalsky, B. Kibler, J. McNiff, I.S. Nefedov, Yu.G. Rapoport and C.A. Valagiannopoulos, Nanotechnology 28, 444001 (2017)

“Implementation and computational aspects of a 3D elastic wave modelling by PUFEM” – M.S. Mahmood, O. Laghrouche, J. Trevelyan and A. El. Kacimi, Appl. Math. Modelling 49, 568 (2017)

“Dual functionality anti-reflection and biocidal coatings” - Heather M.Yates, Paul Sheel, John L.Hodgkinson, Michael E.A.Warwick, Souad O.Elfakhri and Howard A.Foster, Surf. Coat. Tech. 324, 201 (2017)

“Raman spectroscopy of methane (CH4) to 165 GPa: Effect of structural changes on Raman spectra” - J.E. Proctor, H.E. Maynard-Casely, M.A. Hakeem and D. Cantiah, J. Raman Spec. 1 – 6 (2017)

“Anharmonic effects in simple physical models: introducing undergraduates to nonlinearity” - J.M. Christian, European J. Phys. 38, 055002 (2017)

“Surface-related properties of perovskite CH3NH3PbI3 thin films by aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition” - M. Afzaal, B. Salhi, A. Al-Ahmed, H.M. Yates and  A. S. Hakeem, J. Mater. Chem. C 5, 8366 (2017)

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

“Bistable Helmholtz dark spatial optical solitons in materials with self-defocusing saturable nonlinearity” - J.M. Christian and M.J. Lundie, J. Nonlinear Optic. Phys. Mat. 26, 1750024 (2017)

“Broadband Cooling Spectra of Hot Electrons and Holes in PbSe Quantum Dots” – F.C.M. Spoor, S. Tomić, A.J. Houtepen and L.D.A. Siebbeles, ACS Nano 11, 6286 (2017) http://dx/

  • 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.

Head of Research Group (Materials & Physics)
Prof John Proctor
Tel: (0044) 0161 295 0176

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.