Research course

Energy materials

Open University · Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Entry requirements

2:1 in a relevant engineering, materials of physical science subject

Months of entry


Course content

The OU Materials Engineering Group research into Energy materials falls into two main categories: materials research for nuclear and conventional power station applications; and nonoscale and surface engineering.

Materials used in conventional and nuclear power generation experience some of the harshest operating environments imaginable. The Materials Engineering Group has a wide range of characterisation equipment suitable for this class of material, including state-of-the-art electron microscopy, thermal cycling and creep facilities and non-contact strain measurement equipment. Most projects in this research area are undertaken in close collaboration with UK and European industry or as part of large European consortia.

Nanoscale energy and surface engineering focuses on energy harvesting and storage materials, paying particular attention to surface engineering of 2D materials such as Graphene, boron nitride and Molydenum oxide/supphides for PV and batteries/hydrogen energy applications. Synchrotron based techniques from US, UK and European facilities are used to address key fundamental challenges in these materials.

Current/recent research projects

  • Graphene assisted low cost energy efficient solar cells (GALES)
  • Spatially resolved digital image correlation applied to creep strain characterisation in power plant weldments
  • Creep crack growth in nickel superalloys
  • Smart nanomaterials for flexible supercapacitors
  • Graphene composites for fuel cells
  • Creep fatigue of ODS steel
  • Raman-based characterisation of phase fraction and residual stress in zirconium fuel cladding material
  • EBSD as a tool for creep damage quantification in power plant steels

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

- Novel ceramics for Generation IV fission reactor structural applications - Residual stresses in next generation nuclear power plant - Low temperature transformation martensitic weld fillers for repair welding of large power plant components - Study of creep cavitation using correlative analysis

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 months
full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Professo John Bouchard
+44 (0)1908 655799