This research area focuses on understanding the structure, processes, dynamics and functionality of surfaces and interfaces, and how they determine chemical and physical properties.
This research area focuses on understanding the structure, processes, dynamics and functionality of surfaces and interfaces, and how these determine chemical and physical properties. Development of novel tools and techniques forms a key aspect of research in this area. Research into specific materials falls within the most relevant materials research area; research into surface science for catalysis would fall within the Catalysis research area.
We intend this research area to become more cohesive and connected to the users of its outputs, whilst contributing to key challenges. This will require support with strong leadership, key skills training, increased links with end-users and greater collaboration for the sharing of infrastructure.
We have three aims.
Develop strong leadership
Our aim is for the community to be encouraged to develop strong leadership in order to provide a clear direction for this research area and to foster cohesion across a broad range of interests. This would enable researchers to work together to respond to key challenges, including those specific to the field, such as in the sourcing and provision of infrastructure.
Contribution to other research areas
Our aim is for the community to consider the contribution that surface science can make to challenges in a range of other research areas – for example, the development of novel techniques to study biological interfaces. This would ensure that opportunities for collaboration in new areas are identified and explored.
Reflect end users’ needs
Our aim is for a greater proportion of research to reflect end users’ needs, with collaboration at an early stage to design research in a way that incorporates understanding of industrial requirements. This would enable translation of transformative and novel research. This will maximise the impact that surface science expertise and techniques can bring to societal challenges, pulling through exciting new tools, techniques and approaches into industry via mutually beneficial collaborations.
Training and collaboration
We would like to see training focused on core skills and techniques in surface and interface science that will ensure the future supply of researchers in this area and equip researchers to address industry’s future needs. This will ensure the long-term health of the discipline, while also providing surface science expertise to address a range of research challenges across a number of sectors important to the UK economy.
In a constrained capital environment, there is a continued need for the community to work together to explore creative solutions for equipment funding and support, for example by seeking leverage from alternative sources.
Existing investments should be maximised through collaboration arrangements to enable sharing of equipment, in order for UK researchers to remain competitive. If necessary, we will facilitate community discussion on this to aid development of a coherent approach to future capital investment and support.