Together with sponsor Xceleprint, Tyndall celebrates the winners and finalists of the 2022 Postgraduate Publication of the Year.
Dr Fatima Gunning, Head of Graduate Studies at Tyndall, praised the entries, saying: "Here at Tyndall, our students really are the foundations of our research excellence and the annual Postgraduate Research Publication of Year competition offers them a fantastic opportunity to showcase their excellence. In this year’s competition, our PhD students submitted exceptional publications - congratulations to all!"
Alin Mihai Fecioru, Senior Program Manager, X-Celeprint, commented, “X-Celeprint is honoured to support these highly committed researchers and their pivotal work in graphene-like carbon, tuneable microwave generation and sustainable materials. Their achievements reflect their passion for research excellence and Tyndall's pursuit of pushing the frontiers of research. Congratulations to all the awardees!”
What encouraged you to submit your application to the 2022 Postgraduate Research Publication of the Year?
The work completed in this publication was the largest and most significant part of my PhD thesis. As such, I was proud of the work put into it, and the quality of the research that was conducted. Coupling this with seeing other high-quality works being entered from my friends and colleagues in this and previous years, I felt encouraged that my paper would be a great fit for the competition.
What inspired you to choose the subject of your paper?
This work encapsulates two key topics of interest to me. Namely Laser-induced graphene, and sustainability. Prior to this publication I had worked on several other laser-induced graphene papers and seen its potential as a method to produce conductive graphitic structures for a wide range of applications, in a low cost, low power and timely fabrication route, particularly in comparison to other methods. However, the target substrates used at that point were still non-sustainable, polyimide, a petrochemical-based bioplastic. As plastic pollution continues to pose a significant ecological challenge, the need for sustainable electronics becomes increasingly urgent.
Also, with the development of the Internet of Things and the smart city requiring a vast number of sensors and sensing platforms, the development of sustainable electronics becomes more of a pressing requirement. Moving from polyimide to a bioplastic substrate in the form of a chitosan bioplastic allowed us to direct our interest toward a more sustainable alternative.
What’s your paper about and how did you prepare for it? What role did research excellence play in your approach?
The paper explored the use of a sustainable precursor feedstock material for laser-induced graphitization, specifically chitosan biopolymer films. Laser-induced graphitization (LIG) of materials provides a unique and advantageous method for the fabrication of 3D, porous, conductive, carbon structures with a high surface area. Typically, LIG is fabricated on non-sustainable feedstock substrates, most commonly polyimide. This work as an alternative, demonstrates laser fabrication of porous, 3D graphene-like carbon from a new class of marine-based sustainable materials – chitosan biopolymers.
In preparation for the paper, previous work on LIG on polyimide as a target substrate gave us a clear indication of the types of characterisation techniques that would be required (i.e., Raman Spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, I-V characterisation etc..). As such we were well adapted, and already had a high standard of research excellence towards these techniques. However, as we were using a new target substrate, other characterisation techniques would also be required to analyse the Chitosan film. (i.e., Thermogravimetric analysis, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction.)
The selection for Research Publication of the Year is extremely competitive. What is your advice for those aspiring for nomination next year?
While it is a very competitive award, don’t let that deter you. Successfully having work published, particularly as a postgraduate is a huge achievement and one you should celebrate and be proud of. Having an opportunity, like this, to spread your knowledge further is one of the best ways to highlight your passion and work ethic!
What is the single most significant support Tyndall has been able to offer you in achieving your research goals?
I largely think that the greatest impact to my research at Tyndall, has been the people and the community at Tyndall. Whether that involved general advice, in-lab assistance, or even connecting to relevant internal and external collaborators, the support throughout the Institute certainly assists in lifting research off the ground.
Group centre: Micro & Nano Systems centre: Nanotechnology group
Tyndall: Dr. M. Burke, Dr. A. Imbrogno, E. Vaughan, Dr. D. Iacopino, Dr. A. J. Quinn.
FORTH/ICE-HT(Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas): Dr. L. Sygellou, Dr. G. Paterakis, Dr. C. Galiotis
CNR (Institute for Polymers Composites and Biomaterials, National Research Council of Italy): Dr. C. Santillo, Dr. M. Lavorgna