2016 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

Perovskite structure of methylammonium lead iodideThe 2016 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures will be given by Prof. Saiful Islam of the University of Bath. Under the title of 'Supercharged: Fuelling the future', Prof. Islam will explore the topic of energy: what is it, how can we use and store it?

These questions are at the heart of Prof. Islam's research programme into new materials for clean energy, including next-generation lithium- and sodium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, high efficiency solar cells, and solid-oxide fuel cells.

Describing himself as "a chemist who doesn't wear a white lab coat", Prof. Islam's research primarily involves computational modelling of these 'energy materials' using Molecular Dynamics and Density Functional Theory (DFT). For example, a recent study of ionic transport in hybrid lead perovskite solar cells was based on DFT calculations of a 768-atom system using the VASP code on ARCHER, in combination with experimental results. Hybrid lead perovskites are now considered a leading candidate to replace the current 'second-generation' or 'thin-film' photovoltaic solar cells.

Such simulations can be extremely computationally demanding. Prof. Islam is a Principal Investigator (PI) within the UK HPC Materials Chemistry Consortium, and he and his research group make extensive use of ARCHER. In 2016 alone, they have used over 240,000 ARCHER node-hours, roughly equivalent to running a high-spec home computer for over 50 years! Prof. Islam is also PI of the EPSRC-sponsored Energy Materials Computational Solutions programme, which also makes heavy use of ARCHER and other HPC resources to study a wide range of materials that may underpin a future clean energy revolution.

The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four at 8pm on 26th, 27th and 28th December 2016.

Prof. Saiful Islam

Above: Prof. Saiful Islam (Credit: Paul Wilkinson).
Top right: Perovskite structure of methylammonium lead oxide (Source).