SPS Research group awarded EPSRC Funding of over £500k

EPSRC has awarded a three year grant to enable the Saines group to accelerate their work on magnetic cooling materials.

The Saines group, part of the Materials for Energy and Electronics (MEE) Research Group in SPS, has been awarded funding of over half a million pounds by EPSRC to continue its ground-breaking work into magnetocalorics. These are materials that exhibit an entropically driven cooling process when in a cycled magnetic field, are an efficient way of cooling at ultra-low temperatures.

Refrigeration is central to modern society – making hot climates habitable, preserving food, and facilitating medical scanners and quantum computing. Given that over a tenth of Britain’s electricity is estimated to go to cooling, at a cost of over £5 billion a year. Research on more sustainable and efficient cooling methods is pivotal to modern society as acknowledged by the inclusion of “clean cooling” in the UK Government’s clean growth strategy.

Work led by Dr Paul Saines, leader of the MEE group, has recently shown that magnetocalorics are promising for use in cooling between 4 and 20 K. The EPSRC funding, which is part of a £622k collaboration with Professor Malte Grosche, Head of the Quantum Matter group at the Cavendish laboratory at the University of Cambridge, will help the group develop magnetocaloric materials as an alternative to scarce and expensive liquid helium.

“We are very grateful to EPSRC for funding this multidisciplinary project, which relies on our teams expertise in materials chemistry and physics. This allows us to, in collaboration with leading researchers at Cambridge, develop a new group of magnetic cooling materials as needed to implement them in new cooling devices. If successful, this work will pave the way to more sustainable cooling in a vital but tricky regime for uses including medical resonance imaging.”

Dr Paul Saines

Work at Kent will focus on developing new magnetocaloric materials based on coordination frameworks that contain metal cations linked by ligands with more than one atom in their molecular units. The Saines team have already shown that such materials tend to have magnetocaloric properties optimised for use in the desired temperature range and the low applied magnetic fields that can be generated by permanent magnets, which is key to practical applications. Once optimised materials are found these will then be subject to further characterisation of the magnetic and physical properties at Cambridge with the aim of developing prototype cooling devices.

This project will commence in September and fund a postdoc and PhD student to complete at Kent.

These positions will be advertised shortly and interested candidates are very welcome to contact Dr Saines ahead of this to discuss the posts.

It is anticipated the postdoc will focus more on the synthesis and magnetic property characterisation of these materials while the PhD student will study the most promising materials using neutron scattering to understand how their microscopic interactions relate to their physical properties, which will lead to the development of rules for optimising materials.

For more information on the work funded by the grant take a look at the MEE blog.


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