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Spotlight on: Svenja Janke, Ramsay Memorial Trust Fellow

Spotlight on

Dr Svenja Janke
Ramsay Memorial Fellow

Dr Svenja JankeLink opens in a new window starts her Ramsay Memorial Fellowship to discover "A New Method to Simulate Absorption and Emission Spectra of Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Perovskites". Learn more about how she got here and the way ahead for her research.

Electric energy surrounds us, but we are not making most of it. Neither can our photovoltaic devices produce energy very efficiently, nor our light emitting devices use it efficiently. Promising energy materials are hybrid materials that combine different substance classes, but their design is challenging. I will develop a new method to understand what light hybrid materials gather or emit. This understanding could enable more targeted design and discovery of new hybrid materials for efficient lighting and photovoltaic devices.

I want to contribute to building a sustainable, energy-efficient future. Hybrid materials could allow us to combine the strengths of organic and inorganic materials in one, e.g., for new solar cell or LED materials. With my research, I hope to enhance the understanding of how hybrid materials work at the fundamental level and hence contribute to engineering more energy-efficient materials. On a personal level, researching hybrid materials also allows me to combine my interests in energy transfer and in physical chemistry. My research provides new, interesting challenges every day and the opportunity to work with very interesting and nice people.

On the research side, I want to develop a new method to understand what light hybrid materials gather or emit. By the end of my Ramsay Memorial Fellowship, I hope to have established myself in a permanent research position.

I approach my work as solving very interesting puzzles. To solve them, I apply my understanding of physics and chemistry, and collaborate with other scientists. In detail, I program, do calculations, analyse data, read and write interesting papers, have a lot of very interesting discussion with interesting people about their and my science – and most importantly also talk with scientists and about topics very far from my own field, because that can give you the best ideas. For me, science is learning more about how the world around us works and based on that understanding trying to make our world a good place to live for us and generations to come.

Challenges started out with studying chemistry after not having had much chemistry in school (a small, rural school with not many pupils interested in chemistry), but I had decided that chemistry was interesting, and I wanted to do that. As a result, I had most problems with physical chemistry and quantum mechanics during my studies, but again, I decided that those were the most interesting topics and I wanted to do my PhD about them. I also started my PhD in computational chemistry without knowing the next thing about programming or, really, computers. I overcame all those challenges by working hard, by applying understanding and by ending up in a supportive environment where I could ask questions.

But at the moment, the greatest challenge for me is not an academic one, but rather whether it will be possible for me to combine a family and a scientific career with all its uncertainties.

Currently, the hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites I am focussing on are a very hot topic – but with emphasis on 3D hybrid perovskites or perovskites with small organic molecules. With my research, I hope to increase interest in exploiting materials with more functional organic molecules. From a theory side, I believe that my field will in future become more data-driven, e.g., by further establishing machine learning methods in hybrid material atomic structure or opto-electronic property exploration, to which I hope to contribute with my project. This will open even more opportunities for close collaboration between experiment and theory.

I believe that knowledge gained in the field of hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites will be transferable to other hybrid materials.

Why Warwick? During my previous WIRL-COFUND fellowship here at University of Warwick, I have experienced University of Warwick as a very supportive environment in developing one’s own independent research profile. The support and feedback I could rely on to develop my research ideas has been phenomenal. Next to superb support by everyone in the Department of Chemistry, there are extensive training possibilities like the Accolade programme of the IAS or seminars target to improve your understanding of application processes. I hope that these resources can help me to further develop my independent research profile and obtain an independent position by the fellowship’s end.

Additionally, the computational infrastructure of the University of Warwick has the necessary resources to support my project, e.g., with its computational clusters Avon and Orac.

Finally, my research fits in very well with existing research in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics and Engineering. This will hopefully open some opportunities for collaboration.

About Ramsay Memorial Fellowships

The Ramsay Memorial Fellowships were instituted in 1920 as a memorial to Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916). The Fellowships are offered to postdoctoral chemists who already have some postdoctoral experience of research but who are in the early stages of their career, so that they may initiate a programme of original and independent research. Find out more from SCILink opens in a new window.