Oxford Chemistry has an exciting and forward-looking program to develop new and improved functional materials for a range of energy applications. For instance, low-cost transparent conductive materials and improved optoelectronic materials are essential for driving down the cost of solar energy enough to make it a significant player in the global energy mix. Materials for hydrogen storage and high-efficiency fuel cells may someday make the promise of the hydrogen economy a reality. Understanding how to design materials that superconduct at room temperature could revolutionize power transmission and solve a major source of inefficiency in today's power grids.
The design of catalysts – materials that accelerate chemical transformations – is a particular strength of Oxford Chemistry. Key areas of work include the development of catalysts for making hydrogen from water, for cleanly and efficiently burning fuels, for transformations that lead to cleaner hydrocarbon fuels, and for allowing greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) to be captured and converted into useful chemicals.
A key part of materials in general, and catalysts in particular, is the realization that both chemical and physical properties can fundamentally change how a material works. For instance, catalysts with small particle sizes or the correctly sized pores often have substantially higher activity than bulk materials. A major part of catalysis research at Oxford Chemistry is aimed at learning how physical structure can be used in concert with chemistry to make useful chemical reactions easier.
Oxford Chemistry is also the home of the Oxford Catalysis Network.