Prof Chris Blackman

Prof Chris Blackman

Professor of Inorganic Chemistry

Dept of Chemistry

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
12th Jun 2000

Research summary


My work focuses on the use of vapour deposition techniques (chemical vapour deposition, atomic layer deposition) for synthesis of nanostructured and thin film materials for use in energy and gas sensing applications.

I collaborate with academic groups in the UK and Europe on programmes in materials synthesis, characterization and functional testing. I also work with industrial partners to develop intellectual property (US2012/0080092, WO2008/009967) by exploiting vapour synthesis methods for the manufacture of commercially relevant products.

Research highlights

Nanomaterial Synthesis and Characterisation

Single-Step Deposition of Au- and Pt-Nanoparticle-Functionalized Tungsten Oxide Nanoneedles Synthesized Via Aerosol-Assisted CVD, and Used for Fabrication of Selective Gas Microsensor Arrays

DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201201871

Advanced Functional Materials Volume: 23 Issue: 10 Pages: 1313-1322 Published: 2013

This article describes an extension of my groups previously published method to encompass a wider matrix of nanomaterials. Here we use the differentiation provided by the matrix to form a selective gas sensor array. A crucial advance on our previous research was to demonstrate direct integration of our materials synthesis technique with micromachined gas sensor platforms, something which is not possible with traditional gas sensor processing techniques.


Evidence and Effect of Photogenerated Charge Transfer for Enhanced Photocatalysis in WO3/TiO2 Heterojunction Films: A Computational and Experimental Study 

DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201605413

Advanced Functional Materials Volume: 27 Issue: 18 Page: 1605413 Published: 2017

Here my group synthesised tungsten oxide nanorod arrays, which were subsequently coated in a conformal layer of TiO2. This heterojunction showed an unusual electron transfer process, where photogenerated electrons moved from the WO3 layer into TiO2. State‐of‐the‐art hybrid density functional theory and hard X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy were used to elucidate the electronic interaction at the WO3/TiO2 interface. Transient absorption spectroscopy showed that recombination was substantially reduced, extending both the lifetime and population of photogenerated charges into timescales relevant to most photocatalytic processes. This increased the photocatalytic efficiency of the material, which is among the highest ever reported for a thin film.

Complex Oxides

Visible-light driven water splitting over BiFeO3 photoanodes grown via the LPCVD reaction of [Bi(OtBu)3] and [Fe(OtBu)3]2 and enhanced with a surface nickel oxygen evolution catalyst

DOI: 10.1039/C5NR04804D

Nanoscale: Volume: 7 Issue: 39 Pages 16343-16353 Published 2015

This article describes a new CVD route to thin films of the complex oxide BiFeO3. This continued the work of my group in bismuth materials for energy applications, and here we demonstrated production of a photo-active films with high activity for oxygen evolution compared to competing methods of material production.

Atomic Layer Deposition

The effect of film thickness on the gas-sensing properties of ultra-thin TiO2 films deposited by atomic layer deposition


DOI: 10.3390/s18030735

Sensors: Volume: 18 Issue: 3 Page 735 Published 2018

Analyte sensitivity for gas sensors based on semiconducting metal oxides should be highly dependent on the film thickness, particularly when that thickness is on the order of the Debye length. Here we prepared TiO2 thin films by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and the TiO2 films were exposed to different concentrations of CO, CH4, NO2, NH3 and SO2 to evaluate their gas sensitivities. These experiments showed that the TiO2 film thickness played a dominant role within the conduction mechanism.

Teaching summary

I also actively carry out research in teaching in higher education, specifically my interests are in the use of web-based resources for enhancing learning outcomes from traditional methods of teaching at university level. This work has been supported by a variety of grants including, most recently, funding from UCL:

Enhancing the Chemistry programme using Virtual Learning Environments (VLE)

UCL Futures Grant

Developing web-based prelab tutorial support for teaching in the chemistry laboratory

UCL E-learning Development Grant 

This work has recently been acknowledged via a prestigious Provosts Teaching Award at UCL.


University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education | 2009
Cranfield University
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1999
University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1995