My research interests focus on the interconnection between electronics, thermoelectrics, and nanomechanics.
We measure fundamental quantities that characterise organic semiconducting materials. These are quantitites such as how conductive they are (i.e., conductivity), how mobile the charge carriers in these materials tend to be (i.e., mobility), and how well the materials convert temperature differences into voltages (i.e., Seebeck coefficient). We also implement new force-mapping techniques on the nanoscale for high-resolution measurements of mechanics to quantify material properties such as stiffness and modulus (i.e., elasticity) on the nanoscale.
Our goal is to build a framework of understanding, based on experiment, on how the properties of mobility, conductivity, Seebeck coefficient and elasticity are interlinked within organic semiconductors. Our proposed framework is summarised in the schematic diagram below. Overall, our research contributes to deeper understanding of the physics of multi-functional organic materials.
Our work has significant impact on applications for waste heat harvesting, and on polymer micromechanical systems.
I run my research program jointly with collaborators in Stockholm, Sweden, namely Prof Per Claesson, Dr Illia Dobryden and Dr Ki-Hwan Hwang, and through an academia-industry partnership with Dr Vladimir Korolkov at Park Systems. Within Cambridge, I collaborate closely with Prof Ljiljana Fruk and with Dr Leszek J. Spalek to expand the systems we study to include biological matter. This work is funded through research grants I hold from the Royal Society.
In 2024, I will initiate a new program on molecular thermoelectrics with Dr Guillaume Schweicher at the ULB in Belgium, funded through a Wiener Anspach Foundation research grant.
A small part of my research program is completely blue skies. One example of this is to treat nanoscale topography information topologically, and apply novel tools such as Topological Data Analysis (TDA) and Geometric Data Analysis (GDA) to evaluate atomic force microscopy images. This work is funded in part by the Royal Society and in part through UNAM in Mexico. It is conducted together with Prof Pablo Padilla, Mr Alberto Alcalá Alvarez and Mr Mateo Tonatiuh Rodríguez Cervantes.
On the topic of teams, I paraphrase my late mentor Prof B. S. Chandrashekar, “As in life, so in academic career… people will come and go. Irrespective of their age, or their education level, they will all leave an imprint on us, intellectual and behavioural. Be a friend of the world, stay curious, and walk through life believing you have something to learn from all who cross your road.”
I very much live by these words.