Rideal Travel Bursary recipient, Philippa Clark, reports from Canada

25 July 2018

Philippa Clark was awarded a Rideal Travel Bursary to attend the 10th International Conference on Quantum Dots in Toronto, Canada. Here, she tells us about the memorable talks she attended, how the conference increased her motivation for research giving her ideas for future experiments and the conference dinner underneath a dinosaur skeleton!

‘QD2018 was the 10th international conference focusing on quantum dot research. It was held at the University of Toronto, and organised by members of Professor Ed Sargent’s group. They are some of the world leaders in quantum dot solar cell engineering and other quantum dot-based devices, so that alone gave me incentive to go.

‘The conference opened with a plenary from Victor Klimov giving a history of quantum dot lasers from “prehistoric times” (1991…) to the modern day. It was a great start to the conference, easing us in to quantum dots in the new time zone. The conference kept getting better throughout the week. The main focus of the first two of days was theory and epitaxial quantum dots. It then shifted to colloidal quantum dots and characterisation later in the week, which are of more interest to me.  Many of the speakers were prominent people in the field that I’ve been reading the papers of for years. Highlights included Gerasimos Konstantatos, Sohee Jeong and Cherie Kagan.

‘One particularly memorable talk was by Vladimir Bulovic from MIT, discussing the commercial viability of quantum photovoltaics, and using a Monte Carlo model to analyse cost. Apparently their current estimates show the production cost is about twice as expensive as it needs to be. However other groups attending believed they have cheaper synthesis methods that would significantly reduce those costs, so that is exciting!

‘The conference dinner was another highlight of the week, held in the Royal Ontario Museum. After a wine reception underneath a dinosaur skeleton, we had a fantastic three course meal and were then free to explore several of the exhibitions. It will be a hard conference dinner to beat.

‘Most of the conferences I have attended previously in my PhD were focused on surface science, so going to one focused on quantum dots was a great change. Instead of hearing about advances in techniques and experiments on many different systems, it was interesting to look at the range of techniques applied to systems I am more familiar with. This also made for great discussion, as most groups are just using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS, the main technique that I work with) as a simple identification or quantitative tool. Few people were aware of the more exciting applications of it and the newer advances, such as time-resolved laser-pump photoemission-probe experiments that I presented results from, or near ambient pressure XPS. I had a lot of interest and good discussions over my poster. Since I’ve been spending the last few months writing up my thesis, this conference refuelled my motivation for research. I left full of ideas for experiments to do in the future, and contacts of new potential collaborators.

‘The conference for me didn’t quite end at the closing ceremony, as I tagged along on a tour of the Sargent group labs afterwards that a new friend had asked for. I have never seen so many glove boxes! The labs were impressively packed with equipment, and even had a nice view of the CN Tower. The conference was definitely a success for me, and Toronto is a great city to spend a week in. I can’t give enough thanks to the SCI- RSC Rideal Trust for awarding me with a travel bursary, as I would not have been able to attend without it.’

Pip Clark
PhD student
University of Manchester

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