Banbury School for A Levels, Durham University for my undergrad degree and The University of Sheffield for my current PhD
A Levels in Art, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. A Masters degree in Physics
I was self-employed as a Gardener for most of time at school and University – I love being outside so it was perfect (apart from when it was raining)
University of Sheffield
Me and my work
I make and test new types of solar panels based on special plastics in a ultra-clean laboratory.
My Typical Day
I’m either in the lab making my solar panels or testing them.
When I’m making the solar panels I’m usually dressed in a very stylish all over blue romper suit so I don’t contaminate the lab as it’s really, really clean (dust is bad!). There’s even one room that’s so clean I have to wear a special beard net!
Most of my work is carried out in a special box filled with nitrogen, which keeps oxygen and water out. This is because the materials I use are really sensitive to air and stop working if they come into contact with it. The important working bits of each solar panel are about a thousandth the width of a human hair thick – this means that dust is really bad because it’s much larger than that and would stop the solar panel from working if even one grain of dust were to get into the device.
Making the solar panels is the hard part. If I’m testing my solar panels I often end up spending a lot of time playing games on my iPad while the experiment is running – wait, I mean reading scientific articles!
What I'd do with the money
I’d tour Yorkshire schools with interactive exhibits about renewable energy, which I believe is really important for our world’s future. There’s loads of really cool and interesting science that would make for some fun workshops – making mini wind turbines and tidal power stations and demonstrating the solar panels that I make.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Adventurous, sporty, funny
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I’ll list a few as I love music: alt-J, Everything Everything, Goldfish, Alabama 3
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
What did you want to be after you left school?
An Architect (after I left secondary school), A Scientist (after A-Levels)
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
A couple of times but nothing major
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Helped a company understand their new, experimental material called Quantum Tunnelling Composite for my masters project at University. Soon though, it will be my PhD that will be the best thing I’ve done!
Tell us a joke.
The equipment I use on a day-to-day basis. The glove -box (right, with the long black gloves). There’s no air inside here – just nitrogen gas. I have to keep oxygen and water out of here as they damage the materials I use to make the solar panels. The big silver metal cylinder to the left of the glove box is a pump that pumps all the air out of a special chamber inside the glove box. It’s kept at 263 degrees below freezing.
Me using the glovebox in my stylish blue coveralls.
One of the solar panels I make. It’s really tiny – the working area (called a pixel -there are 6 of them on each device) is only 1/100th the size of a stamp! In an average day I can make 20 of these and test them.