Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

The Lee Group at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, 4D Science

With our collaborators from Diamond Light Source, the University of Liverpool, Unilever and with staff from the MXIF group based at the Henry Moseley Facility, University of Manchester, the Lee Group presented an exhibit about our shared materials research.

The properties of materials depend on their internal structure across many scales, from the nano to the macro. The shape of these structures is controlled by how the material is made.

Our research uses 4D synchrotron X-ray tomography to examine these structures for different materials – like magma, so we can better understand volcanic eruptions, and ice crystals, to work out why some ice cream tastes better!

We use synchrotron light from the Diamond Light Source, 10 billion times brighter than the sun, to generate X-ray tomographs (3D images) to study the structure inside materials, with spatial resolutions from tens of nanometres to microns.

Using special experimental rigs that our group has designed and built, we create conditions that cover a wide range of temperatures, pressures and atmospheres – replicating the forces that materials undergo in real situations – and we watch the materials as they change. This combination of 3D imaging plus time gives us 4D science!

By then building computer models of the objects we study, we can better predict their behaviour to understand and improve them. Important examples we study include: what happens when joints get arthritis? How can jet engines be more efficient? Can we make better batteries?

Find out more about our research:
Better Batteries
Violent Volcanoes
Inside Ice Cream

Watch the promotional video for our exhibition below