PAM group wins University’s Lab-based Sustainability Award

The PAM group have won one of the university’s first LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) awards.

LEAF is a new tool developed by researchers at University College London to help improve the carbon footprint of lab-based research. The PAM group’s efforts have been led by Dr Bethan Charles and we have been hard at work over the past few months to implement energy-saving ideas, such as replacing our wasteful oil baths with aluminium heating blocks. We won a Bronze LEAF award for our efforts, and we’re currently working towards Silver.

Abi Collins wins Silver Medal at STEM4BRITAIN

Huge congratulations to 3rd year PhD student Abi Collins (2nd from left) who won a silver medal for her poster presentation at this year’s STEM for Britain event, which took place at the Houses of Parliament on March 7th 2022.

Abi presented a poster and video of her PhD research into the design of novel of solid-state upconverters for solar energy harvesting to a diverse audience which included Members of Parliament, civil servants and eminent scientists. This research is kindly funded by the European Research Council (SPECTRACON).

Find out more about STEM For Britain here:

Welcome Kathryn and Jonathan

We’re delighted to welcome visitors to the group. Kathryn Benincasa is a PhD student from McMaster Uni who has a @MitacsCanada globalink research award to support her 3-month stay to work on our collaborative @EPSRC NEW Horizons project with Prof. Kalai Saravannamuttu
Jonathan Hoare joins the group for his MPhil in Energy Technology research project on 3D printed LSCs. Jonathan was a Part II student in 2021 before moving to engineering for his MPhil. Welcome both – we hope you enjoy your visit!

McBain Medal 2022 awarded to Rachel Evans

Our warmest congratulations to Rachel on her recent award of this year’s McBain Medal for her contribution to colloid and interface science, focussed on the design of photoresponsive soft materials for energy and sustainability technologies.

The McBain Medal is an annual award made by the Society of Chemical Industry to honour an early career researcher or technologist, who has made a meritorious contribution to colloid and interface science within 15 years after completion of postgraduate study. Her achievements will be celebrated at a one-day symposium in late 2022 or early 2023.

Morton Lyu passes PhD viva

Congratulations to Morton Lyu, who successfully defended his PhD thesis, entitled “Design of high-performance luminescent solar concentrators based on aggregation-induced emitters in organic-inorganic hybrid waveguides”, this month.  We thank Prof. Andrea Pucci (Università di Pisa) and Dr Sam Stranks (University of Cambridge) for examining his thesis.

Morton was one of the first members of the PAM group when it was established in Cambridge and played an important role in getting the lab set-up and training new group members who followed. Morton has co-authored 4 papers to date, with several to follow soon from his PhD thesis. He has recently moved to Oxford to take up a position in a start-up company and we wish him the best of luck in this new role.  

We will miss you!

Abi Collins wins presentation prize

Congratulations to third year PhD student Abi Collins, who was awarded a prize for her presentation at the recent RSC Photophysics and Photochemistry Group Early Career Researcher Meeting (6-8th December 2021, online). Abi presented a 3-minute video on her ERC funded research into solid-state spectral upconverters for photovoltaics. Well done Abi!

Elaine Kelly passes PhD viva

Photograph of Elaine Kelly

Congratulations to Elaine Kelly, who successfully defended her PhD thesis this month. Elaine’s thesis, entitled “Self-Assembly of Azobenzene Photosurfactants and the Relationship with Macroscopic Properties“, covered a variety of topics from the design and characterisation of new azobenzene surfactants and understanding of their lyotropic liquid crystal and rheological properties, through to their application as templates for proposal nanoparticles. We thank Dr Annela Seddon (University of Bristol) and Prof. Alex Routh (University of Cambridge) for examining her thesis.

Elaine has been a long-time member of the group. She understood her final year project under Rachel’s supervision, while they were both still at the Department of Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Elaine was then awarded an Irish Research Council scholarship to undertake PhD studies in the group in Dublin. As Rachel had accepted a position at Cambridge, Elaine opted to pursue an MPhil in TCD, before joining Rachel in Cambridge for her PhD studies, for which she was awarded a Winton scholarship. Elaine has co-authored 4 papers to date, with several to follow soon from her PhD thesis. Elaine has now moved to Germany and we wish her the best in the next steps of her career. We will miss you!

Article accepted in Journal of Materials Chemistry C

Congratulations to Guanpeng Lyu, Thomas Southern and Bethan L. Charles for their work on the paper entitled “Aggregation-induced emission from silole-based luminophores embedded in organic–inorganic hybrid host” which has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Materials Chemistry C

This paper reports the incorporation of silole-based luminophores, which exhibit aggregation-induced emission (AIE) behaviour into a photoactive organic-inorganic hybrid host, named ureasils. To achieve this, two sample series with varying doping concentrations were prepared, based on either the parent silole AIEgen, named DMTPS or the silylated analogue DMTPS-Sil, which were physically doped or covalently grafted, respectively, to the ureasil host via a sol-gel synthetic process. Our results, including steady-state and photoluminescence characterisation, as well as confocal microscopy, revealed that covalent grafting led to reduced scattering loss, improved chemical stability and enhanced PLQY (up to ca. 40%). Moreover, the excitation energy transfer was shown to occur from the optically active ureasil host to the embedded DMTPS-Sil with an efficiency of almost 70%. This study highlights the potential for designing complex photoluminescent hybrid polymers exhibiting an enhanced AIE response for solid-state optical applications.

We would also like to thank our collaborators, Maxime Roger, Philippe Gerbier and Sébastien Clément from University of Montpellier in France, for their help in the synthesis and structural characterisation of the AIE molecules.

“Aggregation-induced emission from silole-based lumophores embedded in organic–inorganic hybrid host” G. Lyu, T. J. F. Southern, B. L. Charles, M. Roger, P. Gerbier, S. Clément and R. C. Evans, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2021, DOI: 10.1039/d1tc02794h.