The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering is located on Thornton Science Park, a modern expressly-designed site that profits from a recently-completed multi-million pound renovation that has created a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility. The site was home to Shell UK’s exploration and research centre since the 1940s, and its takeover by the University heralded the opportunity to apply its legacy to the continuation of world-class innovation and research in the North West.

Recent Submissions

  • Structure and dielectric properties of double A-site doped bismuth sodium titanate relaxor ferroelectrics for high power energy storage applications

    Yang, Bin; Zhang, Hangfeng; Fortes, Dominic; Yan, Haixue; Abrahams, Isaac; University of Chester; Queen Mary University of London; Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    The structural and dielectric properties of barium/strontium substituted Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3 were examined in compositions of general formula (Ba0.4Sr0.6TiO3)x(Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3)1-x. An average classic cubic perovskite structure is maintained from x = 0.5 to 1.0. The temperature dependence of dielectric properties of studied compositions shows relaxor-ferroelectric behaviour attributed to the existence of polar nano-regions. Ferroelectric measurements under variable temperature demonstrated two transitions from normal ferroelectric to relaxor-ferroelectric and relaxor-ferroelectric to paraelectric, at the dipole freezing temperature, Tf, and temperature of maximum permittivity, Tm, respectively. The obtained value of Tf coincides with the onset of linear thermal expansion of the cubic unit cell parameter obtained from high resolution powder neutron diffraction data. Careful analysis of the neutron diffraction data revealed no significant change in the average cubic structure from -263 to 150 C. However, changes in the Gaussian variance component of the neutron peak shape, reveal three distinct regions with transitions at about -100 and 100 C corresponding to the beginning and end of the dielectric dispersion seen in the permittivity and loss spectra. This variation in the Gaussian variance parameter is attributed to the activity of the polar nano-regions. The composition (Ba0.4Sr0.6)0.5(Bi0.5Na0.5)0.5TiO3 was found to exhibit the maximum recoverable energy storage density, with a value of 1.618 J cm-3 and 76.9% storage efficiency at a field of 17 kV mm-1.
  • Multiscale Understanding of Electric Polarization in Poly(vinylidene fluoride)-Based Ferroelectric Polymers

    Yang, Bin; Meng, Nan; Xintong, Ren; Zhu, Xiaojing; Wu, Jiyue; Gao, Feng; Zhang, Han; Liao, Yaozu; Bilotti, Emiliano; Reece, Michael; et al.
    Poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) and PVDF-based copolymers with trifluoroethylene (PVDF-TrFE) have attracted considerable academic and industrial interest due to their ferroelectric properties, which are only presented in very few polymers. However, the underlying fundamentals of molecular ordering and induced polarizations are complex and not fully understood. Herein, PVDF, PVDF-TrFE and their blends, prepared using melt extrusion and hot pressing, have been selected to obtain controlled case studies with well-defined chain ordering and microstructures. Impedance analysis and terahertz time-domain spectroscopy are exploited to investigate electric polarization in PVDF-based polymers at different length scales. The extruded ferroelectric films show in-plane chain orientation and higher domain wall density compared to hot pressed films with randomly-distributed polymer chains, which favors the polarization at low frequencies (Hz to MHz), as concluded from the higher dielectric constants and more prominent high electric field polarization switching features. However, the domain walls cannot respond at high frequencies, which leads to lower dielectric constants in the extruded films at THz frequencies.
  • Terahertz Signatures of Hydrate Formation in Alkali Halide Solutions

    Ligang, Chen; Ren, Guanhua; Liu, Liyuan; Guo, Pan; Wan, Endong; Zhou, Lu; Zhu, Zhonglie; Zhang, Jianbing; Yang, Bin; Zhang, Wentao; et al.
    We systematically studied the ability of 20 alkali halides to form solid hydrates in the frozen state from their aqueous solutions by terahertz time-domain spectroscopy combined with density functional theory (DFT) calculations. We experimentally observed the rise of new terahertz absorption peaks in the spectral range of 0.3-3.5 THz in frozen alkali halide solutions. The DFT calculations prove that the rise of observed new peaks in solutions containing Li+, Na+ or F‾ ions indicates the formation of salt hydrates, while that in other alkali halide solutions is caused by the splitting phonon modes of the imperfectly crystallized salts in ice. As a simple empirical rule, the correlation between the terahertz signatures and the ability of 20 alkali halides to form a hydrate has been established.
  • Domain wall free polar structure enhanced photodegradation activity in nanoscale ferroelectric BaxSr1-xTiO3

    Wang, Yaqiong; Zhang, Man; Jianguo, Liu; Zhang, Haibin; Li, Feng; Tseng, Chiao-Wei; Yang, Bin; Smith, Graham C.; Zhai, Jiwei; Zhang, Zhen; et al.
    Ferroelectric materials exhibit anomalous behavior due to the presence of domains and domain walls which are related to the spontaneous polarization inherent in the crystal structure. Control of ferroelectric domains and domain walls has been used to enhance device performances in ultrasound, pyroelectric detectors and photovoltaic systems with renewed interest in nanostructuring for energy applications. It is also known that the ferroelectric including domain walls can double photocatalytic rate and increase carrier lifetime from μs to ms[1] However, there remains a lack of understanding on the different contributions of the domain and domain walls to photo-catalytic activities. Herein it is found, by comparing samples of nanostructured BaxSr1 xTiO3 with and without a polar domain, that the material with polar domains has a faster reaction rate (k=0.18 min-1) than the non polar one (k = 0.11 min-1). It is further revealed that the observed enhanced photoactivity of perovskite ferroelectric materials stems from the inherent polarization of the domain instead of domain walls. Here, the new understanding of the underlying physics of materials with a spontaneous dipole opens a door to enhance the performance of light induced energy harvesting systems.
  • Probing NaCl hydrate formation from aqueous solutions by Terahertz Time-Domain Spectroscopy

    Yang, Bin; University of Chester
    The cooling-induced formation of hydrate in aqueous NaCl solutions was probed using terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS). It was found that the NaCl hydrate formation is accompanied with emergence of four new absorption peaks at 1.60, 2.43, 3.34 and 3.78 THz. Combining the X-ray diffraction measurement with the solid-state based density functional theory (DFT) calculations, we assign the observed terahertz absorption peaks to the vibrational modes of the formed NaCl⋅2H2O hydrate during cooling. This work dedicates THz-TDS based analysis great potential in studying ionic hydrate and the newly revealed collective vibrational modes could be the sensitive indicators to achieve quantitative analysis in phase transitions and lattice dynamics.
  • Overcurrent relays coordination optimisation methods in distribution systems for microgrids: a review

    Abeid, S; Hu, Yanting; University of Chester
    Electric power networks connected with multiple distributed generations (microgrids) require adequate protection coordination. In this paper, the overcurrent relay coordination concept in distribution system has been presented with details. In this available literature, the previous works on optimisation methods utilised for the coordination of over current relays; classification has been made based on the optimisation techniques, non-standard characteristics, new constraints that have been proposed for optimal coordination and dual setting protection schemes. Then a comprehensive review has been done on optimisation techniques including the conventional methods, heuristic and hybrid methods and the relevant issues have been addressed.
  • Mechanism between Material Microstructures and Terahertz Dielectric Properties

    Yang, Bin; University of Chester (IEEE, 2019-10-21)
    Significant progress has been made in developing reliable Terahertz (THz) measurement spectroscopy to extract materials’ dielectric properties, however, systematic research on exploring intrinsic mechanism between microstructure of ceramics and THz dielectric properties such as loss, permittivity and dispersive characters has barely started. The paper focuses on one dielectric ceramic system (TiO2), its addition with Zn2SiO4 dielectrics and one hexa-ferromagnetic system to expatiate the association.
  • Terahertz Probing Irreversible Phase Transitions Related to Polar Clusters in Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3-based Ferroelectric

    Yang, Bin; University of Chester (Wiley-VCH, 2020-02-16)
    Electric-field-induced phase transitions in Bi0.5Na0.5TiO3 (BNT)-based relaxor ferroelectrics are essential to the controlling of their electrical properties and consequently in revolutionizing their dielectric and piezoelectric applications. However, the fundamental understanding of these transitions is a long-standing challenge due to their complex crystal structures. Given the structural inhomogeneity at the nanoscale or sub-nanoscale in these materials, dielectric response characterization based on terahertz (THz) electromagnetic-probe beam-fields, is intrinsically coordinated to lattice dynamics during DC-biased poling cycles. The complex permittivity reveals the field-induced phase transitions to be irreversible. This profoundly counters the claim of reversibility, the conventional support for which, is based upon the peak that is manifest in each of four quadrants of the current-field curves. The mechanism of this irreversibility is solely attributed to polar clusters in the transformed lattices. These represent an extrinsic factor which is quiescent in the THz spectral domain.
  • Isolation of a Ferroelectric Intermediate Phase in Antiferroelectric Dense Sodium Niobate Ceramics

    Yang, Bin; Zhang, Hangfeng; Yan, Haixue; Abrahams, Isaac (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
    Switchable ferroelectric/antiferroelectric ceramics are of significant interest for high power energy storage applications. Grain size control of this switching is an interesting approach to controlling polarization and hence dielectric properties. However, the use of this approach in technologically relevant ceramics is hindered by difficulty in fabricating dense ceramics with small grain sizes. Here an intermediate polar ferroelectric phase (P21ma) has been isolated in dense bulk sodium niobate ceramics by grain size control through spark plasma sintering methods. Our findings, supported by XRD, DSC, P-E (I-E) loops and dielectric characterization, provide evidence that the phase transition from the antiferroelectric (AFE) R-phase, in space group Pnmm, above 300 C, to the AFE P-phase, in space group Pbma, at room temperature, always involves the polar intermediate P21ma phase and that the P21ma to Pbma transition can be suppressed by reducing grain size.
  • Fabrication of Graphene Oxide Supercapacitor Devices

    Down, Michael P.; Rowley-Neale, Samuel J.; Smith, Graham C.; Banks, Craig E. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-02-14)
  • Dielectric and Double Debye Parameters of Artificial Normal Skin and Melanoma

    Yang, Bin; Zhang, Rui; Yang, Ke; AbuAli, Najah A.; Hayajneh, Mohammad; Philpott, Mike; Abbasi, Qammer H.; Alomainy, Akram; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-05-16)
    The aim of this study is to characterise the artificial normal skin and melanoma by testing samples with different fibroblast and metastatic melanoma cell densities using terahertz (THz) time-domain spectroscopy (TDS) attenuated total reflection (ATR) technique. Results show that melanoma samples have higher refractive index and absorption coefficient than artificial normal skin with the same fibroblast density in the frequency range between 0.4 and 1.6 THz, and this contrast increases with frequency. It is primarily because that the melanoma samples have higher water content than artificial normal skin, and the main reason to melanoma containing more water is that tumour cells degrade the contraction of the collagen lattice. In addition, complex refractive index and permittivity of the melanoma samples have larger variations than that of normal skin samples. For example, the refractive index of artificial normal skin at 0.5 THz increases 4.3% while that of melanoma samples increases 8.7% when the cell density rises from 0.1 to 1 M/ml. It indicates that cellular response of fibroblast and melanoma cells to THz radiation is significantly different. Furthermore, the extracted double Debye (DD) model parameters demonstrate that the static permittivity at low frequency and slow relaxation time can be reliable classifiers to differentiate melanoma from healthy skin regardless of the cell density. This study helps understand the complex response of skin tissues to THz radiation and the origin of the contrast between normal skin and cancerous tissues.
  • Quality Mapping of Offset Lithographic Printed Antenna Substrates and Electrodes by Millimeter-Wave Imaging

    Zhang, Jiao; Tang, Jianhua; Sun, Wenfeng; Zhang, Yan; Yang, Bin; Wang, Xinke; University of Chester (MDPI, 2019-06-14)
    Offset lithographic printed flexible antenna substrate boards and electrodes have attracted much attention recently due to the boost of flexible electronics. Unmanned quality inspection of these printed substrate boards and electrodes demands high-speed, large-scale and nondestructive methods, which is highly desired for manufacturing industries. The work here demonstrates two kinds of millimeter (mm)-wave imaging technologies for the quality (surface uniformity and functionality parameters) inspection of printed silver substrates and electrodes on paper and thin polyethylene film, respectively. One technology is a mm-wave line scanner system and the other is a terahertz-time domain spectroscopy-based charge-coupled device (CCD) imaging system. The former shows the ability of detecting transmitted mm-wave amplitude signals only; its detection is fast in a second time scale and the system shows great potential for the inspection of large-area printed surface uniformity. The latter technology achieves high spatial resolution images of up to hundreds of micrometers at the cost of increased inspection time, in a time scale of tens of seconds. With the exception of absorption rate information, the latter technology offers additional phase information, which can be used to work out 2D permittivity distribution. Moreover, its uniformity is vital for the antenna performance. Additionally, the results demonstrate that compression rolling treatment significantly improves the uniformity of printed silver surfaces and enhances the substrate’s permittivity values.
  • Microstructure and broadband dielectric properties of Zn2SiO4 ceramics with nano-sized TiO2 addition

    Weng, Zhangzhao; Song, Chunxiao; Xiong, Zhaoxian; Xue, Hao; Sun, Wenfeng; Zhang, Yan; Yang, Bin; Reece, Michael J.; Yan, Haixue; Xiamen University; Capital Normal University; University of Chester; Queen Mary, University of London; China Electronic Product Reliability and Environmental Testing Research Institute (Elsevier, 2019-04-06)
    Zn2SiO4 ceramics with nano-sized TiO2 addition (ZST) were synthesized by conventional solid state method. The association between the new composite’s microstructures and dielectric properties reveals that reduced pores, increased density and average grain sizes with increasing sintering temperatures, have contributed to the increased permittivities at kHz and microwave bands; the decrease of the permittivities at 1275 0C is due to the form of twin planes. At the terahertz band, the competition of generating oxygen vacancies and forming them into twin crystallographic shear planes dominates the change of permittivities: the crystallographic shear planes decrease the permittivity at the sintering temperature 12250C and 12500C, and the high-rate generation of oxygen vacancies at 1275 0C increases the permittivities. The ZST ceramics demonstrate stable permittivity and low dielectric losses (<10-3 from 10 kHz to microwave band; and < 10-2 at THz range); and the temperature coefficient of resonant frequency is optimized to close zero. These advanced dielectric properties and low sintering temperature (<13000C) provide the ZST ceramics great potential in designing microwave and THz devices.
  • Comparative Performance Modelling of Heat Pump based Heating Systems using Dynamic Carbon Intensity

    Counsell, John M.; Khalid, Yousaf; Stewart, Matt; University of Chester (IET, 2018-11-31)
    Modern buildings and homes utilise multiple systems for energy generation, supply and storage in order to maintain occupant comfort, reduce operating costs and CO2 emissions. In recent times electricity generation and supply network (UK National Grid) have had to manage variable supply from renewable sources such as wind turbines and photovoltaics. This resulting supply mixture has a dynamic profile at intermittent times. To manage excess supply, the options are either to reduce the generation by power stations/renewables or reinforce the power infrastructure with storage capability. This has given rise to calls for electrification of services in streamlining the supply profile through intelligent demand response such as electric heating and vehicles. Furthermore, due to zero carbon energy sources with dynamic supply profile, the carbon intensity is no longer constant. This impacts the seasonal CO2 emissions calculations and also the design and performance of electrical powered heat pump based heating systems. The RISE (Renewable Integrated Sustainable Electric) heating system was developed (funded by the UK Research and Innovation), where an electrical powered Heat pump is combined with electric thermal storage allowing low cost and low carbon electricity to be utilised. For such a system more realistic performance analysis requires dynamic carbon intensity calculations to assess impact on its ability to maintain comfort, low operating costs and low carbon emissions. The paper builds upon previously published research on the RISE system comparing with domestic Gas Condensing Boiler (GCB) using static carbon calculations. This paper presents a comparison between the RISE system and standard domestic electrical powered Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) when using static and dynamic carbon intensity profiles. The Inverse Dynamics based Energy Assessment and Simulation (IDEAS) framework is utilised for modelling and dynamic simulation of building and heating system, operating cost and estimation of annual emissions based on half hourly (HH) dynamic CO2 intensity figures rather than annual average. The results show that with dynamic carbon intensity calculations, both electric heat pump based heating systems, RISE and ASHP show a significant increase (>15%) in carbon emissions for space heating. The results also show that whilst the RISE system’s thermal storage helps to reduce running costs using a time of use tariff (TOU), it only provides a small benefit in carbon emissions.
  • Programmable logic controllers and Direct digital controls in Buildings

    Khalid, Yousaf; University of Chester (2018-09-30)
    The concept of programmable logic controller (PLC) originated over the last century that has revolutionised the industrial sector. In the last few decades PLC in the form of DDC has been commonly used in Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). The contribution of this work is to analyse PLC/DDC role in the ongoing BEMS advancements in the building sector. Currently DDC are not understood by building design and simulation engineers who assess the controllability of the building in practice. This paper would enhance the understanding of integrating DDC in buildings and influence creation of better modelling and simulation tools for assessing their impact on energy performance in practice.
  • Perovskite Srx(Bi1-xNa0.97-xLi0.03)0.5TiO3 ceramics with polar nano regions for high power energy storage

    Wu, Jiyue; Mahajan, Amit; Riekehr, Lars; Zhang, Hangfeng; Yang, Bin; Meng, Nan; Zhang, Zhen; Yan, Haixue; Queen Mary University of London; Uppsala University; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2018-06-06)
    Dielectric capacitors are very attractive for high power energy storage. However, the low energy density of these capacitors, which is mainly limited by the dielectric materials, is still the bottleneck for their applications. In this work, lead-free single-phase perovskite Srx(Bi1-xNa0.97-xLi0.03)0.5TiO3 (x=0.30 and 0.38) bulk ceramics, prepared using solid-state reaction method, were carefully studied for the dielectric capacitor application. Polar nano regions (PNRs) were created in this material using co-substitution at A-site to enable relaxor behaviour with low remnant polarization (Pr) and high maximum polarization (Pmax). Moreover, Pmax was further increased due to reversible electric field induced phase transitions. Comprehensive structural and electrical studies were performed to confirm the PNRs and the reversible phase transitions. And finally a high energy density (1.70 J/cm3) with an excellent efficiency (87.2%) was achieved using the contribution of PNRs and field-induced transitions in this material, making it among the best performing lead-free dielectric ceramic bulk material for high energy storage.
  • Hybrid Heat Pump for Micro Heat Network

    Counsell, John M.; Khalid, Yousaf; Stewart, M.; University of Chester (World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET), 2017-10-17)
    Achieving nearly zero carbon heating continues to be identified by UK government analysis as an important feature of any lowest cost pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Heat currently accounts for 48% of UK energy consumption and approximately one third of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Heat Networks are being promoted by UK investment policies as one means of supporting hybrid heat pump based solutions. To this effect the RISE (Renewable Integrated and Sustainable Electric) heating system project is investigating how an all-electric heating sourceshybrid configuration could play a key role in long-term decarbonisation of heat. For the purposes of this study, hybrid systems are defined as systems combining the technologies of an electric driven air source heat pump, electric powered thermal storage, a thermal vessel and micro-heat network as an integrated system. This hybrid strategy allows for the system to store up energy during periods of low electricity demand from the national grid, turning it into a dynamic supply of low cost heat which is utilized only when required. Currently a prototype of such a system is being tested in a modern house integrated with advanced controls and sensors. This paper presents the virtual performance analysis of the system and its design for a micro heat network with multiple dwelling units. The results show that the RISE system is controllable and can reduce carbon emissions whilst being competitive in running costs with a conventional gas boiler heating system.
  • Controllability of buildings: computing and managing energy in practice

    Khalid, Yousaf; University of Chester (Journal of Computing and Management Studies (JCMS), 2018-05-25)
    Modern buildings utilise multiple systems for energy generation, supply and storage in order to maintain occupant comfort. Consequently, complex computer based energy management systems are utilised for design and operation of such buildings. Often these buildings perform poor in practice in terms of energy consumption, cost and carbon emissions due to lack of thorough analysis of their controllability during the design process. This paper highlights the deficiencies in the current building design practice and the need for appropriate framework to assess controllability of buildings during design stages so that complex building energy systems are easier to manage in practice.
  • SrFe12O19 based ceramics with ultra-low dielectric loss in the millimetre-wave band

    Yu, Chuying; Zeng, Yang; Yang, Bin; Wylde, Richard; Donnan, Robert S.; Wu, Jiyue; Xu, Jie; Gao, Feng; Abrahams, Isaac; Reece, Michael J.; et al. (AIP Publishing, 2018-04-02)
    Non-reciprocal devices such as isolators and circulators, based mainly on ferromagnetic materials, require extremely low dielectric loss in order for strict power-link budgets to be met for millimetre (mm)-wave and terahertz (THz) systems. The dielectric loss of commercial SrFe12O19 hexaferrite was significantly reduced to below 0.002 in the 75 - 170 GHz band by thermal annealing. While the overall concentration of Fe2+ and oxygen vacancy defects is relatively low in the solid, their concentration at the surface is significantly higher, allowing for a surface sensitive technique such as XPS to monitor the Fe3+/Fe2+ redox reaction. Oxidation of Fe2+ and a decrease in oxygen vacancies is found at the surface on annealing, which is reflected in the bulk sample by a small change in unit cell volume. The significant decrease in dielectric loss property can be attributed to the decreased concentration of charged defects such as Fe2+ and oxygen vacancies through annealing process, which demonstrated that thermal annealing could be effective in improving the dielectric performance of ferromagnetic materials for various applications.
  • Quality-Control of UV offset Lithographicaly Printed Electronic-Ink by THz Technology

    Zeng, Yang; Donnan, Robert S.; Edwards, Marc R.; Yang, Bin; University of Chester (IEEE Conference Publications, 2017-10-16)
    In this paper, a novel quality-monitor method of inkjet-printed electronics based on terahertz (THz) sensing is presented. Specifically, two different approaches, namely THz reflection spectroscopy and THz near-field scanning, are proposed.

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