Dr James Ed Darnbrough

Fellow by Special Election and Tutor in Materials Science

Ed studied Physics with Australian study at Exeter University, spending his third year in Wollongong Australia, before moving to Bristol for his PhD on the ‘thermal stability and mechanical properties of nanocrystalline nickel’ with Professor Peter Flewitt.

Ed stayed in Bristol for his first postdoctoral research post, focusing on materials for the nuclear sector, working on uranium metal corrosion with Dr Ross Springell and in conjunction with AWE. The project involved starting to investigate possible alternatives to uranium dioxide as a fuel in fission reactors. After three successful years in Bristol, Ed moved to Oxford to join the ‘Materials for Fission and Fusion Power’ group in the Materials Department as a postdoc without a portfolio. This allowed him to get involved in a number of projects, ranging from radiation damage in Beryllium to developing new microscale testing techniques, whilst continuing his work on uranium fuels.

Ed has extensive experience and skills in conducting in-situ and in-operando experiments on complex samples, to extract fundamental properties from small volumes. This led to his appointment as a Career Development Fellow in the field of Mechanical Properties of Battery Materials at Oxford. This will see him working with Professor Mauro Pasta and Professor Peter Bruce on the SOLBAT project.

Outside of academia Ed takes a keen interest in most sports and is a committed Saracens fan, badminton player and triathlete.

Ed’s main research focus is on how materials and their mechanical properties evolve in working environments. This is a crucial question for a whole host of industries; however, Ed is particularly interested in tackling the challenges in the energy sector. This sees his work focus on materials for nuclear applications and in new solid state battery technologies.

Current Working Projects:

  • Investigating the role of applied pressure in suppressing solid state battery failure
  • The mechanical properties of thin film solid electrolytes
  • Battery Cycling Stresses: Investigating how to accommodate the volume expansion of cathode materials during charging without mechanical failure
  • The fundamental mechanical and electrical properties of Lithium metal
  • Advanced Microscopy for the observation of oxygen defects in irradiated uranium dioxide
  • In-situ microscale cantilever testing of ion-irradiated tungsten

For more information, student projects and job openings please see Ed’s departmental page.


  • Undergraduate Materials Tutorials
  • Lecture courses: Introduction to Materials & Advanced Microscopy for the Fusion Centre for Doctoral Training.


You can find a full list of Ed’s publications here.


What would we need to build a spaceship? Read Ed’s answer, on the Oxplore website.

Where next?

Materials Science

Undergraduate course page

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Improving Fission Fuels

11 Feb 2019

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