Portrait of Dr Paul Saines

Dr Paul Saines

Senior Lecturer in Chemistry (Inorganic Materials)
Group Leader of the Materials for Energy and Electronics

About

Dr Paul Saines obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with first class honours from the University of Sydney, graduating with a university medal in 2004. He stayed at Sydney to carry out a PhD focusing on analysing phase transitions in perovskite oxides, under the supervision of Professor Brendan Kennedy, from which he graduated at the end of 2008 with the AINSE gold medal.

Paul then spent periods as a postdoc at the University of Cambridge, focusing on the creation and characterisation of magnetic frameworks in the group of Professor Anthony Cheetham, and at the University of Oxford, working with Professor Andrew Goodwin on the local magnetic and crystallographic structure of ferrous oxide. In 2013 he was awarded a prestigious Glasstone Fellowship at Oxford to independently investigate the magnetic interactions in multiferroic and low dimensional frameworks.

Paul joined the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Kent in late 2015 and has since been awarded the Institute of Physics Physical Crystallography Prize. 

Research interests

Materials with complex and tuneable electronic and magnetic interactions play a key role in the function of many modern technologies. Work in the Saines' group focuses on designing new co-ordination compounds, which form extended crystalline frameworks, as a novel route to developing substances with such functional properties. As highlighted by metal-organic frameworks these materials can adopt unusual architectures, controlled by the cations and organic ligands they incorporate, enabling new routes or unusual modifications to their functions that cannot be found in conventional magnetic and electronic oxides. The electronic and magnetic behaviour of these frameworks are intricately linked to their crystal structures and the group uses cutting-edge characterisation techniques to develop a deeper understanding of the key role of structure-property relationships in their properties. A particular strength of the Saines' group is determining how the atomic scale magnetic structure of frameworks affect their macroscopic properties.

Smart electronic and magnetic compounds

Memory storage and sensing applications require magnets and ferroelectrics with more complex and adjustable properties than traditional materials. This requires the development of new multiferroic materials, in which electronic and magnetic order are coupled, or relaxor ferroelectric whose polarisation properties are useful across a wider temperature range. Framework materials are ideal for these applications as they exhibit unique physical properties not observed in other materials, originating from their unique structures. The perovskite-like AB(HCO2)3 formates are an archetypal example of this. Their structures are comprised of a magnetically active B-site metal while the A-site is occupied by an organic cation that can order ferroelectrically; multiferroic behaviour arises from the host-guest interactions in these materials and their ferroelectric properties often resemble relaxors.. Recent work in this area in the Saines group has focused on how we can expand the chemical flexibility of hybrid perovskites by blending a mixture of monovalent and divalent ligands into their structures, expanding the range of cations they can incorporate and thereby tailoring their physical properties.

Low-dimensional magnetic frameworks

Materials with strong bonding or magnetic interactions in fewer than three dimensions can exhibit unusual physical properties. Frameworks are ideal low-dimensional materials as their structure can be readily tailored to feature isolated sheets or chains with strong coupling within these units but only weak coupling between them. Magnets with low-dimensional interactions can also adopt exotic spin structures, providing tremendous insight into the fundamental nature of magnetism. The group's recent work has shown that low-dimensional magnetic frameworks have considerable potential for efficient cryogenic cooling, particularly where combined with frustration where not all magnetic interactions in the material can be mutually satisfied. They are currently exploring routes for improving such materials further, underpinned by detailed studies of their magnetic interactions. 

Teaching

Paul's teaching covers inorganic and materials chemistry including the structure and properties of transition metal and lanthanide complexes; phase diagrams and the role of defects in solids for clean energy; methods for making functional solid materials; solids with functional magnetic and electronic properties and X-ray diffraction.

Supervision

Paul regularly supervises undergraduate chemistry research projects and the research projects of Master's and PhD students. These are typically in experimental inorganic materials chemistry and condensed matter physics with a particular focus on materials with functional magnetic and electronic properties. Paul encourages enquiries from students interested in a research degree in these areas via email.

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