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Research Fellows Directory

Christoph Salzmann

Dr Christoph Salzmann PhD MSc MRSC

Research Fellow

Organisation

University College London

Research summary

Once believed to be an element in its own right, Paracelsus wrote about water that it is the matrix of the world and of all its creatures. Water is indeed absolutely vital for a wide range of processes in biology, chemistry, geology and materials science. However, despite its simple molecular structure, we still do not have a complete understanding of the properties of this important and in many respects unusual molecule.

Our work sets out to investigate the role water plays in several important and topical areas. The structure of water at the interface with carbon materials is analysed by using state-of-the-art neutron scattering techniques. This will give new insights into the nature of the hydrophobic effect which is the driving force behind important biological processes such as protein folding, the formation of cell membranes and drug-receptor interactions.

Water was one of the first substances for which different non-crystalline (amorphous) forms have been identified. The various amorphous forms of ice are thought to represent different kinds of liquid water at low temperatures. The aim of our work is to find experimental evidence for this astonishing hypothesis. The chemical properties of amorphous ice, which is the most abundant form of ice in the universe, are explored and exploited in order to prepare a range of new inorganic compounds at low temperatures. Our work will lead to a better understanding of fundamentally important chemical reactions.

The preparation of pure cubic ice, an elusive form of ice that has so far not been made without contaminations, is pursued. The properties of this phase of ice will be important for atmospheric research but it is also relevant for research into certain magnetic materials.

Water is a highly fascinating substance and full of surprises. The aim of our work is to show what a true high-performance material it really is.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

The disordered materials frontier: From ice to the wider materials arena

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2016 - Sep 2019

Value: £351,727.43

Spotlight on the Water Molecule: The Dynamics & Chemistry of Its Solid Forms

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2011 - Sep 2016

Value: £566,580.02

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