Phillips Group

Crystal engineering beyond crystallography

Welcome to Bernet Meijer

A warm welcome to the group’s newest PhD student, Bernet Meijer, who joins us following a joint Master’s degree between the University of Amsterdam and the London School of Economics. She will be co-supervised by Dr Helen Walker (ISIS Neutron and Muon Source), and will be collaborating with her and the ISIS sample environment team to help commission and test pressure cells for inelastic neutron scattering experiments. Our target materials for this project range from molecular crystals to framework materials. We are grateful to ISIS and the School of Physics and Astronomy at QMUL for jointly co-funding this studentship.

Image credit: Crystal Kwok at Unsplash

Congratulations to Dr Jiaxun Liu

Left to right: Prof. Martin Dove, AEP (co-supervisors), Jiaxun, Dr Emma McCabe (Kent, external examiner), Dr Isaac Abrahams (QMUL, internal examiner)

Enormous congratulations to Jiaxun Liu, who has successfully defended her thesis Local structure of lead halide perovskites for optoelectronic applications!

Welcome to Dr Richard Dixey

We’re delighted to welcome Dr Richard Dixey to the group, to work on the structure and dynamics of barocaloric framework materials as part of our EPSRC-sponsored work with Dr Helen Walker at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. Richard was previously a PhD student of Dr Paul Saines at the University of Kent, where he worked on magnetocaloric frameworks.

Congratulations to Dr Adgar Yang

Left to right: Dr Petra Szilagyi (QMUL, internal examiner), Dr Alan Drew (QMUL, co-supervisor), Adgar, AEP (co-supervisor), Dr Lucy Clark (Liverpool, external examiner)

Congratulations to Dr Zhengqiang (Adgar) Yang, who has successfully defended his thesis on low-dimensional magnetism in coordination complexes and frameworks!

Theme issue of Philosophical Transactions

Over the past year or so I have been guest editing a Theme Issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A on “mineralomimesis”: taking inspiration from the structure and other features of naturally occurring minerals to design new materials. I am delighted to announce that this issue is at last complete and available online. Many thanks to all of the contributors.

And it looks even better in print!

Welcome to Shurong Yuan

A warm welcome to Shurong Yuan, who has joined the group as a PhD student. Shurong previously completed his Master’s degree in Computational Physics for Condensed Matter at South China University of Technology.

New Royal Society grant

I am delighted and grateful to announce that the Royal Society has awarded us an International Exchange to work with Dr Alessandro Stroppa (CNR-SPIN, L’Aquila, Italy). Dr Stroppa is an expert in materials simulation and will work with us on investigating electrical functionality in framework materials. (more…)

Local structure of a switchable dielectric Prussian blue analogue

We have a longstanding interest in the family of Prussian blue analogues: metal ions bridged by cyanide linkers into a cubic framework that can accommodate many different guests in the pores. In a paper just published in CrystEngComm, arising from Helen Duncan’s PhD work, we use total neutron scattering measurements at ISIS to investigate one of these materials that contains planar imidazolium ions in the interstices.1 (more…)

Distortion modes in conventional and hybrid double perovskites

Many functional materials have the perovskite topology. The functionality, however, invariably comes from some distortion away from the ideal cubic perovskite structure. For instance, electrical polarisation arises from distortions that remove the centre of symmetry. The hybrid perovskite analogues, which consist of metal coordination octahedra connected by polyatomic linkers, are widely recognised to be more mechanically flexible than the inorganic perovskites, in which these octahedra actually share vertex atoms. With a view to understanding the actual and potential functionality of the hybrid perovskites, there has thus been substantial interest in the distortion modes that characterise their observed phase transitions.


Dr Serena Maugeri

Congratulations to Serena Maugeri, who has passed her PhD viva. Her PhD thesis, entitled Total scattering study of nanoparticles, was co-supervised by AEP and Prof. Martin Dove. Her external examiner, Sylvia McLain (Oxford), described her work as “really excellent… one of the best vivas I have ever done”.

Serena has now been awarded an IOP Teacher Training Scholarship to study for a PGCE on the INSPIRE scheme (Innovative Scheme for Postgraduates in Research and Education).