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Prof Chris Blackman
  • Professor of Inorganic Chemistry
  • Dept of Chemistry
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
Research Summary

My research is centred on the use of Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) to deposit thin films of functional materials. 

This has included the use of atmospheric variants to deposit thin films of various metal phosphides, oxides and selenides, the use of aerosol assisted CVD for the deposition of various nanostructured oxide materials and also the  use of low pressure techniques for deposition of thin films of zirconium and tungsten carbonitrides. 

The applications I have been targeting range from microelectronics to energy (active solar control coatings for energy demand reduction and catalysts for generation of hydrogen from water) through to the environment (gas sensing).

Recent research on the use of CVD for the deposition of composite thin films composed of bismuth oxide and platinum nanoparticles, which gain the property of being able to split water, evolving hydrogen, under photoillumination, a property not present in either of the constituents of the composite alone, has been featured in a“Young Investigators Award” issue of Inorganic Chimica Acta.

Methods of nanoparticle synthesis must be developed in accordance with green chemistry, but these techniques must also be compatible with device manufacture to ensure that green principles are followed throughout the fabrication process and also to ensure the potential benefits of the materials are realised. New manufacturing strategies that are additive rather than subtractive, i.e. bottom-up synthesis strategies, can reduce energy requirements and waste generation. A potentially greener approach to top-down or wet-chemical methods of nanoparticle synthesis is to employ direct deposition from the vapour phase, which provides increased atom efficiency and reduced waste production.

I am currently interested in the opportunities afforded by AACVD to synthesise materials with high purity and precise structural control at the nanometre scale level at the relatively low processing temperatures required for the fabrication of nanocrystalline materials. By altering the deposition conditions to control the chemical reaction it is possible to obtain nanocrystalline powders, nanostructured materials or thin films. Hence AACVD is a technique with great promise for synthesis of functional nanomaterials.

Recent research is concerned with the use of AACVD for the synthesis of metal nanoparticle modified metal oxide nanostructures, with the aim of producing highly sensitive and highly selective gas sensors. This work, which is supported by theLeverhulme Trust, has recently been featured in an Emerging Investigators issue of Chemical Communications.

Teaching Summary

I also actively carry out research in teaching in higher education, specifically my interests are in the use of web-based resources for enhancing learning outcomes from traditional methods of teaching at university level. This work has been supported by a variety of grants including, most recently, funding from UCL:

Enhancing the Chemistry programme using Virtual Learning Environments (VLE)

UCL Futures Grant

Developing web-based prelab tutorial support for teaching in the chemistry laboratory

UCL E-learning Development Grant 

This work has recently been acknowledged via a prestigious Provosts Teaching Award at UCL.

Academic Background
2009 PGCLTHE Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education – Education - Postgraduate University College London
1999 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Energetic Materials Chemistry Cranfield University
1995 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Chemistry University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology
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