We are exploring the control of function and properties of materials away from equilibrium using a combination of external stimuli. Applications include solid-state sensors and switches. We have a close connection with time-resolved crystallography through the EPSRC Applying Long-lived Metastable States with Switchable Functionality project. Our research into metastable materials is also supported by the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Chemistry.

Optical stimuli

including single-crystal phase transitions due to linkage isomerism.

Thermal stimuli

involving displacive instabilities, including highly anharmonic systems where there exists large differences between local and average structures.

Electrical stimuli

including both conventional ferroelectrics, with macroscopic polarisation, to systems that exhibit microscopic polarisation domains that respond to an applied electric field.

Kinetic control

covering crystal engineering into new polymorphs, as well as the fabrication of artificial heterostructures and material composites.


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Funded by EPSRC, the Royal Society, the European Research Council and H2020