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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Tiarnan Doherty

Tiarnan Doherty, a final year PhD student in our Optoelectronic Materials and Device Spectroscopy Group, has been awarded a three-year Oppenheimer Fellowship from the School of Technology in addition to a Research Fellowship from Murray Edwards College.

The fellowships will enable Tiarnan to pursue an independent programme of post-doctoral research, an important step on the path to becoming a principal investigator with an established research group.

For his PhD project, Tiarnan has been working with Dr Sam Stranks, head of our Optoelectronic Materials and Device Spectroscopy Group, investigating perovskite materials for solar cells.

Metal halide perovskites are an exciting new class of materials that have recently emerged as promising low-cost materials for various optoelectronic and photonic device applications, such as solar cells and LED lighting.

Tiarnan’s PhD project has so far focused on understanding where performance losses originate in perovskite based solar cells. The Oppenheimer Fellowship will enable him to move his research in a new direction over a three-year period, seeking to utilise perovskite materials as X-ray detectors where they have the potential to provide a higher level of detection with a lower dose of X-rays than current medical and security devices and could find use in the next generation of CT scanners. While an independent fellow, Tiarnan will still work closely with Stranks and other members of the optoelectronics team.

“X-ray detectors are a really promising application for perovskites,” says Tiarnan. “Because perovskites are composed of heavy and earth abundant elements, like lead, they are very effective at stopping X-rays, making them extremely sensitive and cheap materials for X-ray detection. One of the big barriers in using perovskites for X-ray detectors is that the material degrades rapidly when exposed to atmosphere. We’ve had some recent success in overcoming these instabilities and the Oppenheimer Fellowship is a great opportunity for me to focus on translating our results to fully operational devices.

“I benefitted from some phenomenal mentors during my PhD. Sam has always been incredibly supportive of any research direction that I wanted to pursue and has provided very helpful feedback on my research proposals during the application process, as has Miguel Anaya” - a Leverhulme Fellow at CEB. “I’m very much looking forward to continuing to work with them both closely in the coming years”

Tiarnan will be based at CEB as an Oppenheimer Fellow and Murray Edwards College as a Research Fellow from October this year. A new radioluminescence lab is currently being established in CEB and will be a key component of his, and many other members of the University’s, research.

The Oppenheimer Fellowships are run by the School of Technology at the University of Cambridge, providing financial support of teaching and research in surface chemistry and colloid science. The scheme has been running for more than 30 years, with records indicating it may have been established over 50 years ago. It has supported many CEB researchers in that time, most recently Dr Anna-Maria Pappa, from our Bioelectronic Systems Technology group.

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