Surface properties and electronic structure of functional oxides
Professor Edgell's research is concerned with exploring the relationship between the surface properties and the electronic structure of functional metal oxides.
He is interested in two main classes of materials, both with applications in the field of solar energy conversion: transparent conducting oxides (TCOs); and oxides capable of inducing photocatalytic reaction such as the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen or the degradation of organic pollutants. Single crystal TCOs are grown in a ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) apparatus unique within the UK which uses atomic beams of metals and oxygen to prepare materials of the highest quality. The films fabricated in this way are characterised by a range of techniques including high resolution transmission electron microscopy, atomic force and scanning tunnelling microscopy, high resolution diffraction and transport measurements.
A range of electron spectroscopic techniques including hard and soft X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and electron energy loss spectroscopy are used to study electronic structure. He has collaborated with Professor Kevin Smith at the University of Boston in the measurement of X-ray absorption and emission spectra, which provide decisive evidence about details of the bonding in simple inorganic solids.
Extensive use is made of national and international synchrotron radiation facilities including Diamond (UK), the ESRF (Grenoble, France), ELETTRA (Trieste, Italy), MaxLab (Lund, Sweden), NSLS (Berkeley, USA) and NSLS (Brookhave, USA).
Underpinning the UHV growth studies he is also involved in more conventional solid state synthesis, with characterisation of the ceramic compounds by X-ray diffraction and magnetic susceptibility and conductivity measurements.