Dr Rebecca BostonDr Rebecca Boston

Lloyds Register Foundation / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow
PhD Nanomaterials Chemistry
MSci (Hons) Physics

Telephone: +44(0)114 222 5484

Address: Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Rebecca is a 2016 Lloyds Register Foundation / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship in the control of nanostructures in functional oxides. Her current research interests include functional ceramics for capacitors, thermoelectrics and batteries. She joined the Department in 2014 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Professor Ian Reaney and Professor Derek Sinclair. Prior to this, Rebecca completed her PhD with Dr Simon Hall in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol through the Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials.

Career history
  • 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

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.

Current research projects include:

  • Nanostructuring in Na-ion battery anodes and cathodes
  • Materials discovery in Na-ion battery materials
  • Solid state electrolytes
  • Cold sintering in novel materials
  • Nanostructured La-SrTiO3 thermoelectrics
  • Discovery of new deep eutectic solvents
  • Nanostructured solid oxide fuel cell materials
  • Synthesis and sintering of next generation fusion materials
Professional activities and recognition
  • Member of the EPSRC Early Career Manufacturing Forum
  • Lloyd’s Register Foundation 100A1 Ambassador
  • Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member of the American Ceramic Society

Recent and key publications

  • S Zilinskaite, A J R Rennie, R Boston* and N Reeves-McLaren*, Biotemplating: a sustainable synthetic methodology for Na-ion battery materials, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2018.
  • R Boston, W L Schmidt, G D Lewin, A C Iyasara, Z Lu, H Zhang, D C Sinclair, I M Reaney, Protocols for the fabrication, characterization, and optimization of n-type thermoelectric ceramic oxides, Chemistry of Materials, 29 (1), (2016) 265.
  • R Boston*, P Y Foeller, D C Sinclair, I M Reaney, Synthesis of barium titanate using deep eutectic solvents, Inorganic Chemistry, 56 (1), (2016), 542.
  • J Potticary, R Boston, L Vella-Zarb, A Few, C Bell, S R Hall, Low temperature magneto-morphological characterisation of coronene and the resolution of previously observed unexplained phenomena, Nature Scientific Reports, 6, (2016) 38696.
  • R Boston, Z Schnepp, Y Nemoto, Y Sakka, SR Hall, In Situ TEM observation of a microcrucible mechanism of nanowire growth, Science 344 (6184), 2014, 623-626
  • A Khesro, R Boston, I Sterianou, DC Sinclair, IM Reaney, Phase transitions, domain structure, and pseudosymmetry in La-and Ti-doped BiFeO3, Journal of Applied Physics 119 (5), 2016, 054101
  • DC Green, R Boston, S Glatzel, MR Lees, SC Wimbush, J Potticary, W Ogasawara, SR Hall, On the Mechanism of Cuprate Crystal Growth: The Role of Mixed Metal Carbonates, Advanced Functional Materials 25 (29), 2015, 4700-4707
  • R Boston, A Bell, VP Ting, AT Rhead, T Nakayama, CFJ Faul, SR Hall, Graphene oxide as a template for a complex functional oxide, CrystEngComm 17 (32), 2015, 6094-6097

For a full list of publications visit Google Scholar

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

Current group members
  • Daniel Martin (PhD researcher)*
  • Silvija Zilinskaite (Joint LRF ICON and Energy Storage CDT PhD researcher)*
  • George Wilson (Energy Storage CDT PhD researcher)
  • Yuxin Zhang (MSc student)
  • Tim Zhang (MSc student)
  • Xin Wen (MSc student)
  • Zhenhui Xu (MSc student)
  • James Cockburn (UG student)
  • Charlie Davies (UG student)
  • James Bromley (UG student)**
  • Steph Mudd (UG student)*

* Joint with Dr Nik Reeves-McLaren
** Joint with Dr Amy Gandy