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Material design for energy and business

Research leads: Steven Hepplestone, Gyaneshwar Srivastava


In the 21st century, the quest for new materials to combat the problems of climate change and improve the quality of life requires cutting edge understanding of the fundamentals of material science.

At Exeter, we have researchers looking into the fundamental theory and design of materials. We use this for energy storage, where we use first principles theory and structure search tools in an effort to discover the perfect battery and ultra capacitors where materials with a colossal permittivity have been touted for use as a high energy density capacitor.

We also apply this to energy harvesting technologies such as solar and thermoelectrics. Finally, we also study water splitting using semiconductors in the presence of light (the so-called artificial photosynthesis) to custom design materials suitable for enhanced conversion.


Our research team is also experienced in helping companies in developing the material solutions for their problems.

We simulate and understand the electronic, optical and thermal properties of materials and help both small companies and large address key issues in their device production. We develop models for characterising materials, how their manufacture (or “growth”) affects them to understand how to make better materials.

We create a list of measurable characteristics of materials, to enable rapid identification of what factors dominant in a material. We do this theoretically using multiple techniques ranging from analytic continuum models to full atomic scale simulation using ab initio calculations with researchers in a vast range of theoretical expertise in materials.

Current projects

  • Better batteries – sponsored by Deregallera Ltd (CEO Martin Boughtwood)
  • 2D batteries
  • Patterned thermoelectrics– sponsored by Deregallera Ltd (CEO Martin Boughtwood)
  • Oxide solar cells - sponsored by Solaris
  • Two-dimensional metamaterial thermoelectrics
  • The origins of colossal permittivity