James Bird

University Of Manchester

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol, in Chemistry, in 2017. My third year of study was spent in Montpellier, France, where I undertook the Chemical Sciences of Matter course, in French. My final year MSci project was entitled ‘Studying the Oxidation of Diamond using an O2 plasma reactor’.

At Manchester, my PhD research project is named ‘Self Assembled MXene coatings for irradiation resistance’, and shall be supervised by Dr Suelen Barg and Dr Philipp Frankel. MXenes can be derived from MAX phases through selective etching of the A component, thus forming a two-dimensional material which demonstrates similarly attractive properties for use in a magnetic fusion reactor. Such qualities include strength, high temperature resistance and irradiation tolerance at higher temperatures. Unlike MAX phases, the 2D nature and hydrophilic surface chemistry of MXenes allows them to be processed in water, as colloids, to produce self-assembled dense coatings. Colloidal processing provides environmentally friendly, simple and versatile coating manufacture as compared to mechanical spraying or chemical vapour deposition (CVD). Finally, whilst MAX phases are susceptible to anisotropic swelling upon irradiation, leading to intergranular cracking, the response of MXenes to irradiation is to be investigated.

Thus I will develop 2D MXenes using new MAX phase chemistries. These will be colloidal processed into nano-layered dense coatings that will be subjected to proton irradiation at the Dalton Cumbria Facility. The damage accumulation in irradiated MXenes will then be investigated using a range of tools including X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and nano-indentation. Furthermore I will perform high-resolution chemical mapping using Titan ChemiSTEM to evaluate chemical stability of the coatings under irradiation. I may also perform in-situ irradiation experiments to follow the damage mechanisms in real time.