Mary O’Kane is undertaking her PhD exploring the solution chemistry and aging process of perovskite solar cell precursors solutions under the supervision of Prof. David Lidzey at the University of Sheffield, funded by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids.

Mary works very closely with her industrial sponsor, Ossila Ltd. Her industrial placement was focussed on using the Ossila dip coater to create uniform, controllable PEDOT:PSS films, and she has recently helped them to develop a new commercial product, I301 High-Performance Perovskite Ink. You can read more of Mary’s experience at Ossila here.

Mary’s in-depth study of the dip coater has enabled her to create a series of very helpful user guides for those with an interest in coating methods and technologies, which can be found on the Ossila website. A useful comparison of solution processing techniques is here and a detailed practical guide to dip coating can be found with this link.

Mary’s work on perovskites also presented the opportunity to conduct small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments on perovskite material at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, as well as helping to take Grazing-Incidence Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering (GIWAXS) measurements on organic and perovskite films on a visit to the Diamond Light Source.

Mary’s research has been industry-focused right from the start, collaborating on a project with TATA Steel during her degree to investigate the use of ETFE (a polymer that can be made into thin transparent sheet, often used in roofing) in solar heating systems, in a project linked to the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy, which aims to bring students and businesses together to foster innovation and retain talent within Yorkshire, Humberside and the East Midlands.

Being part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids has brought more opportunities for industry-related training, and Mary has undertaken the CDT business training module, involving a series of talks from people at different stages of their careers in industry, as well as several training workshops on a range of topics from project management to presentation skills to patent law.

At the same time, Mary is benefiting from SuperSolar activities, attending the CREST SuperSolar Measurement and Calibration Day at Loughborough University, commenting that “this was a great opportunity to learn more about the accredited PV Measurement process and see the CREST facilities at the University of Loughborough”.