Dr Rebecca Boston

MRSC, FHEA, PhD Nanomaterials Chemistry, MSci (Hons) Physics

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Senior Lecturer

Lloyds Register Foundation / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow

Dr Rebecca Boston
r.boston@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 5484

Full contact details

Dr Rebecca Boston
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Sir Robert Hadfield Building
Mappin Street
Sheffield
S1 3JD
Profile

Rebecca is the Lloyds Register Foundation / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow (2016-22) researching the control of nanostructures in functional oxides. Her current research interests include the development of low temperature synthesis and sintering methods for functional ceramics. Materials of interest include Na- and Li-ion batteries, dielectrics for capacitors, thermoelectrics, superconductors, and materials for fusion applications.

Qualifications
  • Jan 2022- present: Senior Research Fellow
  • 2016-present: Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow in nanostructured oxides for sustainable energy storage and recovery
  • 2014 - 2016: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Sustainable Functional Materials, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Sheffield 
  • 2010 - 2014: PhD Researcher, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol
  • 2006 - 2010: MSci Physics, University of Bristol
Research interests

Every electronic device on the planet, from mobile phones to complex scientific equipment, relies on functional oxide materials (crystalline matter composed of a mixture of metallic elements and oxygen) to control operation or performance. This might be directly as part of a circuit, for example in capacitors, which are predicted to have a global market of $50 billion by 2020, or as a stand-alone device, e.g. a thermoelectric generator which recovers waste heat energy. Many of these materials contain rare or toxic elements, making the devices which use them expensive or difficult to recycle.

We can improve the function of these materials (and potentially remove the need for the toxic/scarce elements) by controlling the nano- and micro-structure of the devices. This requires the development of new synthetic methods which control the morphology from the bottom up. Biotemplates and solvent-based combustion syntheses are a rapid and sustainable way of doing this and so my research is concerned with improving functionality through controlling crystal morphology.

Sintering technology is also a key area of development, as at present there are very few ways to preserve nanostructures within a sintered ceramic. Cold sintering is a means to preserve this type of structure, and we have an active research interest in this for emergent morphology-function relationships

Current research projects include:

  • Nanostructuring in Na-ion battery anodes and cathodes
  • Materials discovery in Na-ion battery materials
  • Low temperature sintering in dielectric materials
  • Nanostructured La-SrTiO3 thermoelectrics
  • Synthesis and sintering of next generation fusion materials

Applications from self-funded students are welcome and a range of projects are currently available. Please contact Dr Rebecca Boston directly to discuss further.

Publications

Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers

Research group

PDRAs:

  • Dr Pooja Kumari
  • Dr Jess Andrews
  • Dr Laura Wheatcroft

PhD students:

  • Silvija Zilinskaite
  • George Wilson
  • Steph Mudd
  • Enrique Casanas
  • Ryan Emmett
  • Yu-han Huang
  • Yining Li

MSc students (2021-22):

  • Fangxing Ai
  • Connagh Launchbury

Undergraduate students (2021-22):

  • Matt Turton
Grants
  • Lloyd's Register Foundation and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship (Principal Investigator)
  • International Consortium of Nanotechnologies PhD studentships (Principal Investigator)
  • FutureCat (Faraday Institution) (Co-Investigator)
  • NEXGENNa (Faraday Institution) (Co-Investigator)
Professional activities
  • Associate Editor of Materials Today Communications
  • Lloyd’s Register Foundation 100A1 Ambassador
  • Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member of the American Ceramic Society