Research

In the Department of Natural Sciences, through our staff's personal commitment to research, we aim at achieving excellence in science and technology that contributes to the well-being of society. Via our inter-disciplinary approach to research, our Department provides a creative and supportive academic environment in which new ideas are created and flourish.

Industrial test bays at The Energy Centre at Thornton
Industrial test bays at The Energy Centre at Thornton

The excellence and diversity of our research in Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biotechnology is reflected in scientific articles published in high-impact journals, research visits in the UK and abroad as well as collaboration with industrial partners across a range of disciplines. Our academic vision reflects our strategy to achieve excellence in research in order to keep within the UK’s research base and contribute to frontier research, promoting industrial partnerships and catalysing innovation.

Our students benefit from high-quality, up-to-date scientific knowledge offered to them by our specialist, research-active tutors. All out undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as any short courses offered by the University of Chester are linked to research informed and industry engaged teaching.

The Department of Natural Sciences is also linked to the new Energy Centre at Thornton, which is a state-of-the-art facility designed to promote growth and acceleration in the development and exploitation of technologies for the energy market. The Energy Centre provides a motivating environment where industry and academia come together to innovate and develop new intelligent technologies in the energy sector.

Below you may browse several scientific areas that our members of staff are pursuing scientific research in. We are always open to inter-disciplinary work with academic/industrial partners in the UK and abroad.

Microscopy, Microanalysis and Surface Science

We use advanced X-ray and electron beam techniques to study the properties of novel materials and devices. Our aim is to be able to understand the relationships between the micro- or nano-scale structure and chemistry of materials, and their performance in novel devices and applications. Recent work includes studies of low-dimensional materials, organic photovoltaics, biofilms, and laser-modified surface

Thornton Air Lab

At the Air Lab we study the chemistry and physics that controls the composition of the air we breathe every day. We use state of the art instrumentation to analyse air pollution and develop a deeper understanding of what we can do to make our atmospheric environment a cleaner and safer place to live.

Platinum Group Compounds for the Treatment of Cancer

The main purpose of our research is the development of more efficient and selective drugs for the treatment of cancer. To achieve this aim, we use an interdisciplinary approach where computational design of new compounds is followed by their chemical synthesis and in vitro bioassays to test for biological activity and mode of action.

Computational Condensed Matter Physics

Our aim is to study nanoscale phenomena related to the presence of defects at surfaces, charge transfer at interfaces, as well as charge and exciton transport in organic material by means of modelling from first-principles. In terms of applications our work is related to devices such as Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs) and Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs).

Materials Science Lab

Our research focuses in various topics of material science, connecting synthetic strategies with material’s characterisation. In order to explore potential applications, we study layered double hydroxides to develop non-toxic biopolymers, which contain inorganic fillers, and study their anion exchange properties in brine solutions. In addition, we analyse materials in fundamental experiments to examine their physical and chemical properties, such as sintering rock salt to study its densification process.

Electrochemical Processes

We investigate a range of fundamental and applied electrochemical processes. In our "Energy Solutions" laboratory we study conventional PEM fuel cells, redox flow batteries and fuel cell/flow battery hybrids, making the facilities globally unique. We also have an electrochemistry laboratory dedicated to fundamental research and sensor development.

Inorganic Materials

Our research is focussed on the synthesis and characterisation of new inorganic and inorganic/organic composite materials. The primary goal of the research is to design new materials with interesting properties through the combination of experimental and theoretical techniques and is currently focussed on the synthesis of new inorganic and organic/inorganic hybrid phases with layered and framework structures, many of which can undergo anion exchange reactions. Such materials can have applications in areas including pollution trapping or solution purification, separation science, selective absorption or controlled release e.g. of pharmaceuticals and catalysis amongst many others.