Dr Aaron FinneyDr Aaron Finney

MChem(Hons), PhD, PGCert, AMRSC
EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 6021
Email: a.finney@sheffield.ac.uk

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

Aaron joined the Department in 2015 as an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow. In his current research, he uses atomistic simulations to understand the formation and stability of materials. He is active in both the application and development of novel simulation methods to address current challenges in the field. Prior to joining the Department, he completed his PhD at the University of Warwick (awarded 2015) in the Department of Chemistry and Centre for Scientific Computing, under the supervision of Professor P. Mark Rodger. His doctoral research was funded by the EPSRC as part of a consortium investigating the formation and properties of composite materials, taking inspiration from natural organisms.

Career history
  • 2015 - current: EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Sheffield
  • 2014 - 2015: PDRA, Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick
  • 2010 - 2014: PhD, Department of Chemistry and Centre for Scientific Computing, University of Warwick
  • 2006 - 2010: MChem, Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick

Research interests

Statistical thermodynamics is a mathematical tool which links the microscopic interactions between atoms to the macroscopic properties of a system. By making use of classical mechanics to model how atoms interact with each other, we explore the stabilities and evolution of a collection of atoms/molecules using computer simulations.

Current areas of interest are detailed below.

  • Solution speciation and the effects of salt concentrations on ion association is a current focus of research which has wide applications, particularly in the areas of interfacial chemistry and crystallisation. We are working to develop new tools to perform simulations at constant chemical potential but still retain the natural dynamics of the systems of interest.
  • Natural organisms are able to produce hard, crystalline materials with special properties and unusual morphologies. Mineral nucleation is the first step in this process which can be controlled by additives. Simulations have enabled us to characterise liquid and solid amorphous phases which are precursors to crystals. Our work has also provided important design principles about how additive molecules can control the pathways to mineral growth.
  • Gas hydrates are ice-like materials which can form at low temperatures and high pressures in gas-water mixtures. These have been identified as promising hydrogen storage and carbon capture materials, but their formation can be detrimental to efficient oil flows and even lead to ecological disasters. We have used simulations to investigate the stability of hydrates and to test the effectiveness of additives to inhibit their formation.

Computer generated transmission electron microscopy images of dense liquid calcium carbonate phases

Professional activities and recognition

Aaron is an associate member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and European Association of Geochemistry.

In 2016 Aaron co-organised a two-day conference on Methods to Simulate Nucleation and Growth from Solution along with Prof. John Harding, Dr Colin Freeman and Dr David Quigley (Physics, Warwick) which was held in Sheffield.

Selected publications
  • Y. G. Bushuev, A. R. Finney and P. M. Rodger, Stability and Structure of Hydrated Amorphous Calcium Carbonate, Crys. Growth Des., 2015, 15 (11), 5269–5279. DOI: 10.1021/acs.cgd.5b00771
  • P. A. Oluwunmi, A. R. Finney and P. M. Rodger, Molecular dynamics screening for new kinetic inhibitors of methane hydrate, Can. J. Chem., 2015, 93 (9), 1043-1049. DOI: 10.1139/cjc-2015-0003
  • A. R. Finney, Nucleation and dehydration of calcium carbonate, PhD thesis, University of Warwick
  • A. R. Finney and P. M. Rodger, Probing the structure and stability of calcium carbonate pre-nucleation clusters, Faraday Discuss., 2012, 159, 47-60. DOI: 10.1039/C2FD20054F
  • A. R. Finney and P. M. Rodger, Applying the Z method to estimate temperatures of melting in structure II clathrate hydrates, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2011, 13, 19979-19987. DOI: 10.1039/C1CP21919G