Peter George Bruce
2 October 1956
|Alma mater||University of Aberdeen (BSc, PhD)|
|Known for||Lithium-air battery|
|Thesis||Lithium ion conducting solid electrolytes (1981)|
Peter George Bruce FRS, FRSE, FRSC is a British chemist, and Wolfson Professor of Materials in the Department of Materials at the University of Oxford. In 2018 he was appointed as Physical Secretary and Vice President of the Royal Society. Bruce is a founder and Chief Scientist of the Faraday Institution.
Bruce was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and the University of Aberdeen where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in 1978 and a PhD in 1982. He completed his PhD research on lithium ion conducting solid electrolytes under the supervision of Prof. A.R. West.
Bruce's primary research interests are in the fields of materials chemistry and electrochemistry; with a particular emphasis on energy storage materials for lithium and sodium batteries. He is interested in the fundamental science of ionically conducting solids and intercalation compounds, the synthesis of new materials with new properties or combinations of properties, understanding these properties and exploring their applications in energy storage. Although ionically conducting solids represent the starting point for much of his research, he has extended his interests beyond the confines of this subject alone. His current research interests include cathode materials, solid state batteries and the Li-air battery.
Bruce has published over 350 papers in this area and has been recognized as a highly cited researcher by the Web of Science Group each year since 2015.
All solid state batteries have the potential to revolutionize the electric vehicles of the future. Replacing the flammable organic liquid electrolyte currently used in Li ion cells with a solid will enable the use of an alkali metal anode which will increase energy density and improve safety. Bruce's interests are in understanding the fundamental processes that are taking place and those, such as void and dendrite formation, which ultimately lead to failure of the cell. Bruce leads the Faraday Institution's SOLBAT project which aims to "break down the barriers which are preventing the progression to market of solid-state batteries."
Lithium intercalation into solid hosts is the fundamental mechanism underpinning the operation of electrodes in rechargeable lithium batteries. He seeks to synthesise new lithium intercalation compounds with unusual properties or combinations of properties. He is especially interested in cathode materials for Li and Na ion batteries. Recently his work in this area has been concerned with compounds which can store additional charge, beyond the transition metal redox capacity, by participation of oxygen in reversible anionic redox processes, including the formation of molecular oxygen in the solid.
Peter G. Bruce is one of the initiators of the Lithium-air battery. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery has revolutionised portable electronics, it will be key to electrifying transport and to delivering secure and stable renewable electricity. However the highest energy density possible for Li-ion batteries is insufficient to meet future demands. The Li-air battery has the potential to transform energy storage and has the highest theoretical energy density of any known battery technology. His research focuses on understanding the fundamental processes underpinning its operation. Recent work has included investigating the kinetics of redox mediators and their use in Li-air cells.
Crystallography is the study of structure which is a foundation for much of modern chemistry. In the absence of single crystals it is important to be able to solve structures ab initio from powder X-ray or neutron diffraction data. Together with Yuri G. Andreev he developed powerful direct space methods by which this can be achieved. Nanomaterials are important but establishing their structure (atomic arrangement) is difficult because the breakdown of long range order due to the confined dimensions negates the use of conventional crystallographic methods. They explored alternative approaches including Debye methods, which relate the atomic arrangement to the diffraction data without recourse to symmetry. All of the above methods allow access to the structures of compounds with a wealth of properties within and beyond materials chemistry.
Since the discovery of crown ethers and cryptands by Pederson, Cram and Lehn (for which they received the Nobel Prize in 1987), the significance of molecules containing the repeat units -CH2-CH2-O- as coordinating ligands for metal cations has been recognised. By combining salts and polyethers such as polyethylene oxide (-CH2-CH2-O-)n, it is possible to synthesise thousands of metal-polyether complexes, alternatively known as polymer electrolytes. Such materials are co-ordination compounds in the solid state and support ionic conductivity. For 30 years it was believed that ionic conductivity was confined to amorphous polymers above Tg and that crystalline polymers were insulators. He overturned this view with the discovery of crystalline polymer electrolytes.