05 July 2017

Dr Abby Casey, Fuels Technologist based at Milton Hill, has been awarded a cash prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) for the best PhD thesis in the field of chemistry for the Energy Sector in 2016. The RSC sponsors the prize to reward scientists who add significant new understanding of the energy sector within the scientific community as well as contributing to efforts in sustainable energy.

90Abby Photo Edit

We took the opportunity to talk to Abby to find out more about the topic of her thesis and how she felt about winning this prestigious award.

What was the topic of your PhD thesis and why did you choose it?

“The topic of my thesis was ‘Optoelectronic properties of new conjugated materials’. My work focused on designing and synthesising new organic semiconducting polymers for use in organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells. Due to the chemical properties of these polymers, OPV cells could be printed like newspapers to give cheap, lightweight and flexible devices. Low-cost portable OPV cells could help to replace cumbersome generators in off-grid locations and the technology could potentially have a large impact on the environment by reducing emissions. Providing sustainable energy is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century and was the reason I chose this project.”

Who did you work with to help with this study?

“I worked in Professor Martin Heeney’s group in the Chemistry department at Imperial College London. However, organic electronics is very multi-disciplinary, requiring the collaboration of many different fields. For instance, I also worked closely with physical chemists to investigate the polymer photochemistry, materials scientists to look at solid state morphology and physicists to make photovoltaic devices. For commercialisation, engineers would also be required in order to print large area devices.”

What was the most rewarding part of your PhD?

“Feeling that I have made a useful contribution to the field of organic photovoltaics, and the energy needs of the future”

What would you want readers to feel as a result of this article?

“To be happy that science is endeavouring to solve important problems!”

Caroline McGee, Fuels Technology Manager at Infineum, said:

Abby’s award is a fantastic achievement and reflects all the hard work and effort that she put into her PhD. It’s great news for Infineum that she has chosen to start her career with us.

Abby has been invited by the RSC to give a talk at a forthcoming photovoltaic lecture which will hopefully raise awareness for alternative and sustainable energy. She will be using her £500 prize money towards buying a new road bike.

If you would like to read more about Abby's thesis please click on this link.

Abby’s thesis was undertaken as part of her PhD studies and was not associated with Infineum.

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