Bright Sparks award for talented Physics student

Sam  Jones
Sam Jones

Lancaster PhD student Sam Jones has won a Bright Sparks award at the Electronics Weekly Awards 2023.

The awards highlight the most talented young engineers below the age of 30 who are already making a difference in the UK in the first years of their careers, or those who are still studying in the UK but show promise to become the innovators and leaders in electronics in the future.

Sam is a Physics PhD student working on a unique collaborative project with IQE on telecoms-wavelength vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) where GaSb quantum rings (QRs) are the source of the emission.

The winners were selected by the Electronics Weekly editorial team, led by the Group Editor Clive Couldwell.

A range of industry figures also gave their views on the candidates including Stewart Edmondson (UKESF, CEO), Karen Holland (XCAM, CEO), Ash Madni (Madni Technologies, MD) Director) and Gavin Woodruff (Education Manager, IET).

Karen Holland, CEO of XCAM, said: “Sam’s postgraduate research history leaves no doubt regarding his brilliance in his field, with a significant number of ‘game-changing’ advances made during his PhD in his field related to design, growth, material characterisation, complex processing and fabrication and testing of GaSb QR VCSELs. In addition to his excellent research capabilities, Sam demonstrates good teaching skills and a willingness to share his extensive knowledge with others."

As well as helping cohorts of undergraduate students develop their practical lab work skills, Sam volunteered at Lancaster University Open Days, showing the latest devices to prospective students and parents through the use of a demonstration kit, and providing a taster of the technology required to engineer such devices.

Sam’s PhD supervisor Professor Hayne said: “Sam is fully deserving of a Bright Sparks award, not only because he is intelligent, creative and hardworking, but because he is a shining example of someone who is always ready to use his many skills for the benefit of others, as well as for his own work.

“Throughout his PhD Sam has sought to engage people at various stages in the world of semiconductor research and engineering. In his capacity as a post-graduate teaching assistant, he has helped three cohorts of undergraduate students develop their practical lab work skills. He has also supervised a summer internship project, opening up real-world research to an undergraduate student.”

Sam said “I am delighted to receive the award and grateful for the fantastic direction and encouragement from my supervisor Professor Manus Hayne, and the excellent practical support from my industrial supervisor Dr Iwan Davies at IQE. The support on both sides of my project highlights the benefits of university-industry collaboration in the UK and enables the development of cutting-edge technologies making the most of the strengths of each facility.

“Having the opportunity to engage in fundamental research with experienced research teams and cutting-edge equipment both at Lancaster and IQE opens your eyes to the exciting potential in combining the individual strengths of academia and industry. I look forward to the exciting prospect of future industry-academia collaborations and the technology we can develop under such collaborations.”

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