The meeting was traditionally shared between electrochemistry groups within the northwest, with colleagues from Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester taking turns to host the event. Unfortunately in the past few years the event had fallen by the wayside, which was a shame for the northwest community, especially for the early career researchers and PhD researchers that it hosts.
This year the event was given new life thanks to the Applied Materials Chemistry Group, with some additional funding from the Northwest Analytical Division. The John Dalton Building (JDB), where the event took place, is home to the university’s faculty of science and engineering. Several of the university’s centres for research and knowledge exchange – including the Advanced Materials and Surface Engineering research centre – operate from within. The JDB is also home to the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre and PrintCity, two specialist research centres for the hydrogen economy, additive manufacturing, and digital skills (Industry 4.0).
Around 60 delegates from across the northwest and from Sheffield attended the event. 18 early career and PhD researchers presented their posters in between two talk sessions: one for early career researchers and the other for PhD researchers.
In the morning session, Hany El-Shinawi – from the Corr research group at The University of Sheffield – gave a talk on his research on solid state electrolytes for applications in lithium-ion batteries. The plenary talk, which was drafted in last minute to replace another speaker, gave insights into garnet materials and their ability to transport lithium ions but not conduct electrical current, which gives rise to longer cycling lifetimes to circumvent longevity issues for larger batteries.
Following the plenary were three talks from the University of Manchester. First, Balakrishna Ananthoju discussed defect-engineered graphene, much in keeping with UoM’s graphene research, while Conor Byrne gave a talk on in-operando electrochemical XPS, a technique that may revolutionise mechanistic information in electrochemical reactions. The second graphene talk of the day also came from UoM, this time Madhumita Sahoo discussed its use in PEM fuel cells. Finally, Tom Galloway from Liverpool University spoke of single crystal electrochemistry using the SHIN technique.
Lunch was served during the poster session, which was judged by Metrohm and Alvatek, both of whom also provided prizes for the best talks and posters.
The afternoon began with a talk from Professor Craig Banks of Manchester Metropolitan University, on his journey as an electrochemist, from developing screen-printed electrodes through to the 3D printed electrodes he engineers within his research group today. Craig’s talk provided inspiration to our early careers and PhD researchers alike, and his take-home message was quite profound in the discussion when he advised young researchers to “never believe what you read in the literature”. I’m sure his point of view will resonate with some.
There were three further talks in the afternoon: Two from the University of Manchester, and one from Lancaster University to close the day. Aranzazu Carmona Orbezo (UoM) delivered her talk on capacitative deionization, a talk that won her the PhD researcher talk prize presented by Alvatek and also free entry to this year’s national electrochemistry conference in Glasgow. Aranzazu will also be given a talk slot at the national conference.
Another UoM PhD researcher, Pawin Iamprasertkun, then discussed the capacitance of the graphite/electrolyte interface, which made for interesting listening since MMU also have a vested interest in this area of research! Finally, Dhruv Trivedi closed the day with his engaging talk on the electrochemical reduction of CO2 – a field of research that is increasing in its impact and interest and something that could help mitigate climate change in the future.
In summary, the event was a major success both in terms of attendance and in terms of the wide range of discussion that took place around the electrochemistry of many different materials that can be applied to our everyday lives. From lithium ion conducting garnets for energy storage, through to 3D printed plastics for electrochemical sensors, electrolysers and batteries, and from defect-engineered graphene through to single crystal metals, there was a large array of applied materials chemistry on show at this event, and we received positive feedback on the event as a whole.
Many thanks to our sponsors, Applied Materials Chemistry Group, Northwest Analytical Division, Metrohm and Alvatek.
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