The University of Southampton
Chemistry
Phone:
(023) 8059 4172
Email:
prb2@soton.ac.uk

Dr Peter R Birkin BSc, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Electrochemistry, Director of the Graduate School

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Dr Peter R Birkin is Senior Lecturer in Electrochemistry within Chemistry at the University of Southampton.

‘My work has centred on the phenomena of cavitation; this is both a fascinating and experimentally challenging arena but ultimately this work has led to a number of exploitable technologies.’

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My research group are investigating the use of novel electrodes and electrochemical techniques. These are then used to investigate unusual environments. For example, we have investigated the effects of ultrasonically produced cavitation bubbles on electrochemical processes. As part of this investigation we have studied the effect of ultrasound on mass transport and surface processes at a variety of different electrodes. In order to investigate these unusual effects, we have adopted the use of microelectrodes (typically microdisk electrodes with diameters in the range 250 µm – 1 µm). Microelectrodes have many advantages when compared to their larger macroelectrode counterparts and are well suited to the study of cavitation/bubble/particle dynamics at the solid/liquid interface. First, microelectrodes are able to resolve individual cavitation events because of a size exclusion principle. These microelectrodes, depending on the exact physical conditions, are smaller than the cavitation bubbles. Each bubble that is formed in the solution above the electrode essentially shields the electrode from other cavitation events. In essence the electrode acts as a target for the imploding bubbles and bubble motion registering the mass transfer effect of each phenomenon as a series of current time transients. The closer to the surface, the more energetic the event and the larger the effect on mass transfer detected at the microelectrode. Second, because of the fast recovery time (a property inversely proportional to the microelectrode’s dimensions), the electrode is able to resolve individual events. We have also demonstrated that it is possible to detect individual mass transfer events and surface erosion/corrosion as the result of single cavitation events produced by continuous ultrasound or single bubbles produced by energy discharge into the fluid (for example single cavitation bubbles produced by laser action).

 

As well as the physical effects of cavitation my group has extended our work to investigate a number of sonochemical reactions within a simple sonochemical reactor. In order to understand the results obtained from sonochemical experiments it is vital that a well-controlled acoustic environment is maintained. We have achieved this through modelling of the acoustics within the electrochemical cells that we have employed in our research. These acoustic models can then be verified by comparison with imaging, acoustic emission and electrochemical experiments.

Other projects include the enhancement of electrode plating, the understanding of hydrodynamic voltammetry, novel scanning spectroelectrochemical systems, in situ electrochemical cleaning and nanoelectrodes. Recently we have developed high-speed impedance approaches suitable for the detection and characterisation of cavitation bubbles and particles as they move across electrode surfaces.

 

 

Research

Responsibilities

Publications

Teaching

Contact

Research interests

My research group are currently investigating particles, bubble dynamics and cavitation. This incorporates inertial cavitation, bubble oscillation, bubble motion, particle motion and sensing. These investigations combine chemical sensors, utilising the sensitivity and versatility of electrochemical techniques, high speed imaging, luminescence imaging with well-characterised physical acoustics. I am also collaborating with a number of my colleagues within the University, outside of the University and with Industrial bodies. These collaborations have concentrated on a variety of subjects including the investigation of hydrodynamic voltammetry, cavitation, laser induced cavitation, new analytical techniques, oxygen transfer between phases, the production of novel materials and new electrochemical imaging techniques. This work has led to significant ‘impact’ output (see ‘Starstream’ for example). New projects are centred on enhanced 3D printing and the treatment of food materials.

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising 3 Ph.D. students. Over the past 20 years I have supervised ca. 50 undergraduate projects. I have received external industrial research support for equipment and student sponsorship. In total I have grant income exceeding £2M at this time.

MPhil/PhD research

J. Hanumanthu (PRB) ‘A study of cluster cavitation erosion using electrochemical, physical and high-speed imaging technique’, UoS

R. Shulyak (PRB), ‘An investigation of electrochemical Single Bubble Sonoluminescence’, EPSRC 

D.Joce, (PRB), ‘Development of a Quantitative in situ UV-Vis scanning reflectance spectroelectrochemical probe for the investigation of microwell electrodes’, UoS/Industrial sponsor

T.M.Foley (PRB), ‘A study of acoustic cavitation and hydrogen production’, EPSRC/Industrial sponsor.

 

Research group

Electrochemistry

Research project(s)

Birkin: Surface Waves

Birkin: Hydrodynamic Modulated Voltammetry (HMV)

Birkin: Single Bubble Sonoluminescence

Birkin: Surface Erosion/Corrosion

Birkin: Luminescence and High speed Imaging

I am currently the Director of the Graduate School and the MSc by Research coordinator.

Key Publications

Articles

Book Chapters

Conferences

Module Coordinator (CHEM1002, CHEM6110, CHEM1022, CHEM8038)

Lecturing (CHEM1002, CHEM6110, CHEM1022, CHEM8038, CHEM8002)

Electrochemistry Summer School

Dr Peter R Birkin
Chemistry University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number:29/6001

Telephone:(023) 8059 4172
Email:prb2@soton.ac.uk


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