skip to content

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Sam Stranks presenting at TEDX

Dr Sam Stranks, who leads our Optoelectronics and Device Spectroscopy Group, has been awarded the 2021 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Physics in recognition of his work’s “international impact” and “exceptionally promising” future career.

Dr Stranks's research focuses on the optical and electronic properties of emerging semiconductors for low-cost, transformative electronics applications, including light-harvesting (such as photovoltaic) and light-emission (such as LED) devices.

In particular, he has made a number of pioneering contributions to the development of halide perovskite semiconductors, which are showing enormous potential as next-generation solar cells. Recently, he and his group have been pushing characterisation techniques to understand the photophysics and structure of these materials on the nanoscale – revealing sites that lead to power losses in the solar cells and therefore guiding new approaches to improve the efficiency and reliability of the devices.

The £100,000 prize is offered to researchers at an early stage of their careers whose work has had international impact and whose future research career is exceptionally promising. The funding can be used for any research purpose.

‘It is a tremendous honour to receive a Leverhulme Prize,” said Stranks. “I see it as a real testament to the work we’ve been building up over the last few years, and so a huge credit for this prize goes to my group members — such an inspiring bunch and an absolute pleasure to work with them all. I have also been fortunate to have supporting mentors along my career so far.

“I plan to use the prize funds to open new lines of research in the group, including exploring quantum technologies and further strengthening links with facilities including Diamond Light Source.”

“The prize is a huge distinction for Sam and his group and testament to the extraordinary talent we are lucky to have at CEB,” said Professor Clemens Kaminski, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. 

“Sam’s research, as indeed most of the work going on in CEB, is set out to address global challenges and to find technological solutions to ensure a sustainable future. I am thrilled to see Sam’s work recognised in this way.”

Awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, Philip Leverhulme Prizes have been offered since 2001 in commemoration of the contribution to the work of the Trust made by Philip Leverhulme, the Third Viscount Leverhulme and grandson of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of the Trust.

“I am delighted that we have been able to award these prestigious prizes to such a stunningly talented group of academics,” said Professor Anna Vignoles, Director of the Leverhulme Trust.

“This round was more competitive than ever and the judges had an incredibly difficult task. This is evident from the achievements of the winners, who are working on a very diverse set of topics, from the physics of dark matter to climate science, from research into policing and inequality through to participatory art.”

Image credits: Ryan Lash / TED

About the Leverhulme Trust

Since its foundation in 1925 the Leverhulme Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education, funding research projects, fellowships, studentships, bursaries and prizes; it operates across all the academic disciplines, the intention being to support talented individuals as they realise their personal vision in research and professional training. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £100m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit and follow the Trust on Twitter @LeverhulmeTrust

Latest news

‘Transformational’ approach to machine learning could accelerate search for new disease treatments

1 December 2021

Researchers have developed a new approach to machine learning that ‘learns how to learn’ and out-performs current machine learning methods for drug design.

Mystery of new, high-performance solar cell materials revealed in stunning clarity

22 November 2021

Researchers from our Optoelectronic Materials and Device Spectroscopy group used a suite of correlative, multimodal microscopy methods to...

Miguel Anaya awarded Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship

9 November 2021

Dr Miguel Anaya, researcher with our Optoelectronic Materials and Device Spectroscopy Group, has been awarded a Research Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), to support his development as an independent researcher.