Loughborough Uni: 2011-15, Beauchamps Sixth Form 2008-10; Beauchamps High School: 2003-08
FdSc (Foundation in Science), BSc (Bachelors of Science)
Laboratory intern; Glastonbury parking attendant; Finance intern; HR analyst; Barman; Dishwasher
Favourite thing to do in my job: I love finding the rules that link different things together. Changing one property to be what you want can make one, two, or even ten others worse without you meaning to. I like learning how things interact, to the point where you can predict what the result will be before you change them. Once you know the rules, you make the changes you want without any nasty side effects!
25 year old that feels like a 15 year old
I grew up in Basildon, Essex, and moved to Loughborough for my undergrad, and stayed for my postgrad. I read, listen to an insane amount of house music, and go to see DJ sets when I can.
After work in the evenings I binge-watch TV shows – how have I only just started Game of Thrones?! – and at weekends I see my boyfriend, where we watch nerdy documentaries and play with his two cats.
I am also a member of the Green Party and get involved with my local branches meetings and activities.
Studying materials that absorb light and convert it to electricity
My Google Scholar page: http://bit.ly/2mUFdln
The aim of my research is to make it super cheap and super easy for companies to make solar panels so that its cheap for everyone to buy for themselves.
Silicon is used in around 90% of solar panels, however it takes a long time and a lot of energy to make one. If the aim is to reduce carbon emissions, using lots of carbon-heavy energy isn’t a good idea!
I study CZTS – a semiconductor made from Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Tin (Sn) and Sulphur (S). We mix these powders together with some liquids in a vial, leave it for a couple of days to dissolve, and then spray it onto hot glass to make a thin film. These films are really thin – 1/500th of 1mm!
Next, I shine light on them to see how efficient it is at converting it to electricity. I do different tests to see what is and isn’t working, and then I change my method to see if I can make the bad bits good (and keep the good bits good!)
My Typical Day
Mixing solutions, spraying them to make thin films and then testing them.
To make a solar cells takes three-four days, so what i do each day depends on where I am in the process.
Typically I will come in in the morning and start mixing a solution, or if one has been mixing for two days then I will deposit it (takes around an hour, depending on how many times I deposit).
After deposition, I do a heat treatment to crystallise my films, and then test them. Sometimes I use a Scanning Electron Microscope (an SEM – a microscope that uses particles instead of light to see things) to look at what Ive made.
Once I have results, I talk about them with the lecturer supervising me, and we decide what went well or what didn’t, and what I can do differently next time.
Other than that, there is lots of waiting for machines to do their thing, so I can sneak in some Youtube videos (only when I don’t have anything else to do though!)
What I'd do with the prize money
Make an awesome animation about solar cells!
My favourite Youtube channel ever is Kurzgesagt (you should DEFINITELY check them out)- they talk about big, complex topics but make it super simple to understand. Also, their animations are excellent
I would put the prize money towards commissioning a video about photovoltaics by Kurzgesagt, so that more people can learn about solar cells.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Chirpy, energetic, curious (as suggested by my fellow researchers)
What's the best thing you've ever done in your career?
Visited and had lectures at the Diamond Light Source is Oxford, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
As a kid, Professor Oak from Pokemon. As a teenager, my physics teacher
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was a little angel (although I did break a window once..)
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I’ve always fancied myself as an actor
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I will always have a soft spot for Panic! At The Disco
What's your favourite food?
I could eat pizza until I turned into one
What is the most fun thing you've done?
A hiking trip across Peru, ending at Machu Picchu
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) To have an eidetic memory, 2) To speak a foreign language (Italian or German), 3) To play an instrument (violin)
Tell us a joke.
My dog has no nose. How does he smell? Terrible.