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Institute for Materials Research



The Advanced Carbon Materials Research Group, led by Dr Aidan Westwood, studies mesophase pitch precursors to carbon, the stabilisation and processing of advanced fibres, composites and monoliths and the role of the fibre-matrix interface and matrix structure in carbon-carbon composites. Our research into ribbons and laminates has produced materials with thermal conductivities more than twice that of copper. We also have research interests in nuclear graphites, activation and microporous structure of active carbons / nanostructure of non-graphitising carbons, nanocarbons and nanocarbon-filled polymer composites for electronic thermal management materials as well as interests in growth of single- and poly-crystalline metal nanocarbides.

The group's research is supported by the availability of the following processing, characterisation and measurement facilities (Leeds' outstanding electron microscopy facility, headed by Prof. Rik Brydson, is particularly noteworthy):

  • Purpose-built, small- and large-scale pitch melt-extrusion and spinning rig with computer control and composite lay-up facility
  • 3-roll mill (for e.g. nanocarbon/polymer composites production)
  • Controlled atmosphere furnaces (with access to 3000+°C graphitisation facilities)
  • Optical microscopy techniques
  • Range of SEMs, with energy dispersive analysis of X-rays (EDAX) and electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD), including field emission gun (FEG) SEM, transverse section SEM and environmental SEM
  • FEGTEMs with parallel electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) attachment (also capable of selected area electron diffraction, SAED, and high resolution TEM, HRTEM)
  • Image analysis
  • Electron probe microscope with wavelength dispersive analysis of X-rays (WDAX)
  • Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and thermal atomic force microscopy (ThAFM)
  • Electrical resistivity (for approximate correlation to thermal conductivity)
  • X-ray diffractometry and "pole figure" analysis
  • Mechanical testing
  • Thermal analysis – DSC, high temperature DTA, TGA, TGA / FTIR and TGA / MS, DMTA
  • Automatic gas / vapour adsorption and chemisorption analyses
  • Spectroscopic techniques including a Raman microscope spectrometer (Prof. Animesh Jha), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and solid state NMR
  • Chemical analyses including CHN with direct O and pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS)

Academic Staff
Dr. Aidan Westwood
Dr. Andy Brown
Dr. Andrew Scott
Professor Rik Brydson
Professor Brian Rand