Dr Hix teaches on the following modules: Chemical Reactions and Processes (CHEM1027), Structure and Reactivity (CHEM2041), Projects (CHEM3035, CHEM 3021), Solid State Chemistry, Advanced techniques (CHEM3023), Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM3002)
Current research is being carried out in four related areas of solid state and materials chemistry.
1. Metal phosphonate chemistry: The aim is to synthesise new microporous and layered materials containing (O3PR)2- anions (where R is an organic functional group). The presence of the organic group allows the physical and chemical properties of the materials to be more diverse than in traditional zeolites and clays. New materials are structurally characterised and investigated with regard to their physical and chemical properties. Target applications for metal phosphonates include catalysis, ionic conduction, ion exchange and molecular separation.
2. Lithium metallonitrides: Li3N is one of the best Li+ conducting materials. Li+ is conducted via vacancies in the Li sites. The drawback of the material is that it has a low decomposition voltage, meaning that it is unsuitable for secondary Li ion batteries. In order to improve this property Li3N is doped with multivalent transition metal ions. Doping the material in this way also introduces an increased number of Li ion vacancies, and should therefore increase the conductivity of the material. Materials are studied by solid state Li NMR, neutron and X-ray diffraction. The electrochemical properties of the materials are investigated using ac impedance spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry.
3. Ionic liquids as solvents for materials synthesis: Many materials are made under hydrothermal or solvothermal conditions, i.e. conditions of high temperature (150-200 °C) and pressure. Typically solvents used are water or some organic solvent (e.g. pyridine). It has been shown that zeolite-like materials can be synthesised using ionic liquids or eutectic mixtures. The benefits of using such solvents is that high temperatures can be employed without the concomitant increase in pressure, since such solvents have little appreciable vapour pressure even at temperatures in excess of 200 °C. Furthermore the basic molecules in the ionic liquid can act as templates or structure directing agents around which porous materials can be formed. These new reaction conditions open the possibility of producing new materials with quite different architectures to those reported previously.
4. Layered metal halide perovskites: The crystallisation of metal halides such as PbBr2, PbI2, SnBr2 or SnI2, can lead to the formation of inorganic layers or chains in which the metal ions have mixed valences. In the case of the layered materials, the layers, which have a pervoskite-like structure, are separated by layers of organic amines. The inorganic layers are electrically conducting (typically semi-conducting) while the organic layers are insulating. The conductive properties of the inorganic part of the materials depends upon their thickness, which is in turn affected by the synthetic conditions. Materials are structurally characterised by X-ray diffraction and investigated for their electrical properties.
Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.
Current and recent research is being carried out in collaboration with, or funded by, the following: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the British Council, the University of Nottingham, the University of Birmingham, Université de Caen, De Montfort University and Leicester University.
Recent research grants:
For full list click 'Go to Gary Hix publications' link above.
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