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
  • 2014 - current: 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 materials of interest:

  • Barium titanate-based capacitors and related materials
  • Doped strontium titanate thermoelectrics
  • Battery cathode materials

Current synthetic routes:

  • Biotemplates (nanowires/micro-rods, spheres, foams)
  • Deep eutectic solvent synthesis
  • Ionic liquid synthesis
Professional activities and recognition

Rebecca co-organises the Materials Researcher Forum with Dr Kerry Abrams; a monthly meet-up for postdoctoral researchers and fellows within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She sits on the departmental Equality and Diversity committee, and has assisted in preparing for the recent successful Athena Swan Silver bid.

Rebecca is also an active member of both the Department Outreach and Open Day teams.

Recent and key publications

  • 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.