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Dr. Kevin Knowles

Departments and Institutes

Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy:
Senior Lecturer

Research Interests

Inorganic Microstructures

We focus on the relationship between microstructure and the mechanical and electronic properties of engineering ceramics. In addition to mathematical modelling, transmission electron microscope techniques are routinely used, as well as scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, mechanical testing and electrical characterization.

Anodic bonding

Anodic bonding is one of the most important silicon-packaging techniques currently used in industry. Work has been undertaken to understand the complex nature of this process. This has required an understanding of a wide range of materials science, ranging from the science of asperity contacts in the presence of electrostatic fields to the subtleties of electrochemical reactions and the formation of cation depletion layers at anodic interfaces in the presence of d.c. electric fields.

Zinc-oxide-based varistor materials

Varistor materials based on the ZnO-V2O5-MnO system which can be sintered at 900°C offer the prospect of replacing current multi-component systems that require higher processing temperatures. These varistor systems are also of interest in their own right for basic scientific studies on varistor action because of their relative chemical simplicity.

van der Waals forces at interfaces in ceramic materials

Although van der Waals forces are weak at micrometre-scale particle separations, they become significant at the nanometre level and are significant contributors to the cohesion and interfacial energies of engineering ceramics in which nanometre-thick films reside at grain boundaries after high-temperature processing. The extension of van der Waals theory to interactions between anisotropic media at the nanoscale is being explored in the context of novel nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes, as well as highly optically anisotropic ceramics such as particles of rutile and calcite, and anisotropic biomaterials.

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