22 June 2017

Budding scientist Chantal Goulder has a bright future after winning a national science prize. Her winning project was provided by a PHEBE-funded researcher at Durham University.

Chantal, a student of Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington won one of the UK Senior Science awards at the National Big Bang Fair, held in Birmingham, earlier this year.

Chantal undertook a Nuffield placement in the Physics Department at Durham University during Summer 2016 under the supervision of PHEBE consortium member Dr Marc Etherington in the Organic Electroactive Materials (OEM) group.

The aim of her project was to study the physical properties of newly-synthesised molecules to further understand the physical processes behind thermally-activated delayed fluorescence (TADF). This process is of immense importance for the fabrication of efficient organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and is the focus of the PHEBE project.

Chantal took the challenges of conducting cutting-edge research, related to the multi-million-pound project, in her stride and focused on how particular states that are formed in organic molecules contribute towards TADF. These states of interest are called charge-transfer states, and understanding their fundamental properties is an important focus in this research area and to the PHEBE consortium. By taking forward this fundamental research the PHEBE consortium is aiming to produce a new blue emitter for white OLED fabrication.

She presented her project work at the Big Bang Fair this March, under the title ‘Investigating charge-transfer states in organic donor-acceptor molecules’, to other students and celebrity judges including Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE and Jason Bradbury, host of The Gadget Show.

Through use of a working OLED demonstrator and a poster she explained to a wide audience how fundamental understanding of the physics and chemistry of these materials can relate directly to improving the efficiency of lighting in the future. It is this connection between the fundamental research and the final OLED product that is the heart of the PHEBE project.

Chantal said: “Having the opportunity to do a Nuffield placement at Durham University was an incredible privilege, and gave me invaluable insight into what it is really like to work in a research environment. During my project, I learnt about a whole area of research that I had previously known very little about, which was very rewarding though challenging at times.”

“It was really interesting to see scientists of different disciplines collaborate and develop their ideas together, and I cannot thank Dr Etherington and the Nuffield foundation enough for their support throughout the project.”
Chantal receiving her prize and certificate alongside judges including Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

For further information on the PHEBE consortium and our latest research papers visit http://www.h2020-phebe.eu/. For information on future research related to this story contact marc.k.etherington<at>durham.ac.uk

If you are interested in the national activities of the Nuffield Foundation or are interested in hosting a Summer student, please visit http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/.