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Joule Physics Laboratory    

Date added: May 01, 2009

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EPSRC Award for Physics Research in Nano-materials

The dynamics of nano-materials and light metal deuterides studies by means of coherent inelastic neutron scattering measurements and model simulations

Keith Ross, Ian Morrison and Daniel Roach, of the Joule Physics Laboratory, have been awarded £360K by EPSRC to develop a new way of interpreting coherent inelastic neutron scattering from polycrystals. For single crystal samples, this technique is widely used to measure phonon dispersion curves which can then be directly interpreted in terms of interatomic interactions. For polycrystals, however, the measured data becomes very complex and cannot be directly interpreted. To get round this, the proposers have developed a method of directly simulating the scattering expected for a given model of the crystal. So far, it has been demonstrated for the case of well crystallised graphite.

We are currently trying to interpret the complex scattering obtained from a natural graphite taken from rock strata that has been deformed over geological time. This shows much more complex scattering which we believe comes from partial stacking faults produced by the deformation. If this is true, it would seem to be the first time that the dynamics of such lattice defects have been observed. We will be applying the approach to both nano-materials, such as carbon nanotubes and fullerenes (so called 'buckyballs') and hydrogen storage materials for use on fuel cells in cars.

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