Report of the Directors
Business Review

Our Strategy

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Johnson Matthey’s
Technology Competences

Designing Advanced Materials at the Atomic Scale to Deliver Real Life Solutions

Johnson Matthey provides solutions to difficult real life problems for our customers and, in most cases, we achieve this through the design and application of advanced materials. Not all of our products are materials, but most of our businesses supply products that contain or incorporate an advanced material in some way, whether it is a powdered or coated catalyst, a coated component or a fully functional device. So designing advanced materials is at the centre of much of what we do.

Whatever the material, the ability to develop and supply the best performing product comes from being able to design at the molecular or atomic scale exactly what we want and then manufacture it at scale. Synthetic chemistry is a core competence for Johnson Matthey and we excel in both organic and inorganic chemistry and in the application of predictive computational modelling to accelerate the evaluation of new structures. We also have an unrivalled knowledge of pgm chemistry and a deep understanding of surface science, particularly of the properties of coatings and coated surfaces.

We need to be able to verify that what we have made is what we wanted. Evaluating materials, once synthesised, is critical and Johnson Matthey has world leading characterisation and analytical capabilities and experts to support this.

The materials we make not only have a specific chemical structure, they also have defined functionalities – it’s what they do that gives them value rather than what they are chemically. Designing functional materials requires specialist technology expertise and a good understanding of applied disciplines such as catalysis, electrochemistry and pharmacology.

The performance of a functional material is affected hugely by the environment that the material sees during its life. A key skill of ours is that of taking a material and customising and integrating it into a specific application based upon the environment that it will operate in. This involves a deep understanding of how the material will interact with its environment, including with other components in the system, and the conditions (such as the temperature and / or pressure) that it will see during its lifetime.

Longevity and life of the material are vital too and we typically need to provide our customers with data that proves the durability or performance of our products over their design life. Many of our products last for years and so our ability to design and carry out accelerated lifetime testing and, critically, to interpret the results is a key strength. The results from real life testing are used to inform and refine the overall design of new materials as part of our development processes.

Once we have optimised a material and proven it as a prototype we need to be able to manufacture it at scale for our customers. This could be anything from a few kilograms through to thousands of tonnes of a material, or hundreds through to millions of units of a discrete component or system. Taking prototypes rapidly into full scale production and maintaining functionality and system behaviour is another critical element of the mix. Understanding scale up requirements often informs the whole process, right back to the initial material design.

Many disciplines contribute to successful manufacturing scale up and our understanding of how to generate defined surface structures is a particular strength of Johnson Matthey. Our ability to design coatings, such as catalyst washcoats and inks, that self assemble into the required structure during manufacture, underpins many of our businesses.

Completing the cycle is our ability to characterise production of both our final product and the manufacturing process used to make it, and is a key requirement for a materials supplier.

Each competence contributes to the process of developing and supplying advanced and highly functional materials that give the best performance in specific applications. These competences are interconnected and knowledge from each informs the others. It is the combination of these skills and capabilities which we believe sets Johnson Matthey’s technology apart from that of our competitors.

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