15 May 2024. Brought to you by Taya Stankevych.

Dominic Spencer-Jolly

What is your current job / programme of study?

Assistant Professor in Birmingham University

What A-Levels (or equivalent) did you do?

I did the International Baccalaureate, studying higher level maths, chemistry, and biology, and standard level English, economics and French.

Why did you choose a career in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)?

I’ve always been very concerned about man-made climate change, and I’m passionate about working to develop new technologies that can help in the transition towards renewable sources of energy. However, while I always knew I wanted to help in combatting climate change, that I’m now doing so as a materials scientist was something of an accident!

What did you enjoy most about your MSE course? (If you didn’t do a MSE course which course did you do and what led to you MSE?)

I actually studied chemistry at university. During my degree, I particularly enjoyed making new inorganic materials and studying them to understand their properties. Somewhat by chance, this led me to working on new battery materials; understanding how they function and fail in operational batteries. It wasn’t too long before I was studying things like fracture in ceramic battery materials, and my journey from chemist to materials scientist was complete!

What is your research about?

My research is on battery materials. While the batteries in our phones, laptops, and electric cars are already quite good, we want them to store more energy, charge more quickly, be cheaper, safer, and more readily recyclable. Doing so requires a fundamental rethink of the materials that go into batteries, and how they are engineered.

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far?

One experiment I’m fortunate enough to do from time to time is high-resolution 3D imaging of a battery as it fails. It’s fascinating to see how the components within a battery can undergo mechanical failure, and we can use the understanding that it gives us to design improved components that will help batteries to charge faster and last longer.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

More exciting battery research, as well as teaching (and hopefully inspiring!) students.

What is your favourite material (and why)?

At the moment its probably Li6PS5Cl, which is a lithium superionic conductor. This means that lithium ions can move through it very rapidly, which is a really useful property for a battery material.

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

It’s about the journey, not the destination (as cliché as that sounds).


Birmingham staff profile