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?
I believe that it can be especially challenging for early career researchers to appreciate one’s own work relative to “the literature”. The Postgraduate Research Publication of the Year acts as a fantastic platform to make you pause, take a step back and consider your work objectively, not as your manuscript, but as a real and meaningful contribution to your subject area. For me, and for many of my colleagues, I think it is easy to get lost in the challenges of the work and not take the time to acknowledge that we are making substantial progress. Entering the Postgraduate Research Publication of the Year can serve as a route towards understanding the value of your contributions. Further, it can act as a spotlight on your work, granting additional attention both externally and within Tyndall which can help foster further collaborations.
What inspired you to choose the subject of your paper?
Until this work, there had been no reported methods for forming robust, reproducible, and survivable electrical contacts to laser-induced graphene, despite the great interest shown in it for sensing and energy storage applications. Standard methods use, costly and contaminating, silver paint and mechanical contacts to access this exciting research material. However, these approaches are inherently unscalable, and they act as a roadblock preventing any progression towards a higher technology readiness level for any devices/sensors developed on the platform. This paper was therefore a very timely and necessary advancement, providing a route towards the practical implementation of laser-induced graphene technologies.
What’s your paper about and how did you prepare for it? What role did research excellence play in your approach?
In brief, my paper investigates an all-laser fabrication route for back-contacting laser-induced graphene. We explored both typical chemisorbing (Ni) and physisorbing (Au) contact metals popular in the graphene literature and demonstrated contact resistances as low as ~30 Ohm for Ni. The impact of contact resistance contributions was demonstrated in terms of electrochemical sensors. The paper serves as both a critical first exploration of contact methods and materials and as an example of their necessity.
This work would not have been possible without the interdisciplinary collaborations facilitated within Tyndall. Polyimide, our precursor material, is not commercially available on arbitrary metal films, in polyimide thicknesses. The access we had to the SP&S team, their knowledge and experience, and the fab defined the feasibility of this work. Through our collaboration, we were able to create samples that would not have been available elsewhere, allowing us to solve a critical research problem and prepare the way for the practical device based on laser-induced graphene.
The selection for Research Publication of the Year is extremely competitive. What is your advice for those aspiring for nomination next year?
Your work is better than you think, submit it. It is easy to get caught up at a conference or reading the literature and assume that everybody else’s work is perfect, when in fact they are sharing the most impressive part of their work. Plus, the process of submission helps you to consider your work from the impact point of view of non-subject experts, not just the scientific aspects. The ability to communicate impact is an essential skill set for funding and future job applications, so why not practice it?
What is the single most significant support Tyndall has been able to offer you in achieving your research goals?
Tyndall has a very rich supply of institutional knowledge that is especially valuable to early career researchers, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Both, in this work and my other projects we would not achieve such impressive results in such a short time without the generous contribution of time and expertise from others.