Beth Johnston

Chemistry, University of Glasgow

Tenure since 2016

Nanostructured high energy density materials for positive insertion electrodes: towards high voltage all solid-state batteries

Beth’s research aims to develop next generation high energy density lithium ion batteries through the synthesis of new, high voltage cathode materials. This research also aims to tackle ongoing Beth Johnstonsafety and sustainability issues persistent in current lithium ion battery technology and contribute to the further development of environmentally-friendly production of energy storage materials.

Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) are ubiquitous in today’s technology-heavy society – they power the majority of portable devices (e.g. mobile phones and laptops) and have more recently found potential as the energy source in environmentally-friendly electric vehicles. Batteries are made from three main components – the cathode, the anode (collectively, the electrodes) and the electrolyte. In LIBs, energy is generated as lithium ions shuffle from anode to cathode through the electrolyte.

One class of important positive electrode material which has garnered much interest is the olivo-phosphates. Beth’s research will focus on the synthesis and characterisation of a range of doped-LiNiPO4 materials and their performance as cathodes in LIBs. Furthermore, if these compounds can be synthesised in nanostructured form, battery performance can be improved due to the higher surface areas. Advanced microwave synthesis methods will be used to achieve this and control the resulting particle size/shape. Finally, these electrodes will be combined with solid electrolytes to realise all solid-state batteries, a safer alternative to current cells which employ flammable organic electrolytes. The ultimate aim of this work is to optimise the performance of an all solid-state battery that can be safely and reliably cycled at voltages greater than 5V.


Beth completed her undergraduate degree in 2016, achieving a First class honours in MSci Chemical Physics from the University of Glasgow. During this time, she received both a chemistry award and the Ford-Forrest bursary for physics in 2nd year, the Inorganic Chemistry award in 3rd year and more recently was awarded with the Archibald McAulay Memorial Prize as the best combined physics masters student.

Beth undertook an industrial placement year during her 4th year, which was completed within the R&D department of De La Rue - the world's largest commercial banknote printer and passport manufacturer. During this time, Beth worked within the research team on the development of novel security features for banknotes.

She completed her master’s research project under Dr Serena Corr, working on high voltage battery materials, and will continue in this area under the same supervisor for her PhD.

Current Carnegie-Caledonian Scholars

The full list of current Carnegie-Caledonian scholars is available here.

Carnegie-Caledonian PhD Scholarships

The next deadline for applications is 28th February 2017.

To learn more about this scheme and how to apply, please visit Carnegie-Caledonian PhD Scholarships.