30 November 2010

ERC grant to Nano-Science Center

Assistant Professor Gemma Solomon has just received an ERC grant of approx. 11 M DKK for her research on current induced heating in molecular electronics. Gemma is a part of nano-chemistry group at the Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry.

Gemma Solomon is one of two young researchers at University of Copenhagen receiving the much-coveted ERC starting grant this year. The grant is given to promising young scientists so they can establish themselves as researchers. Gemma Solomon will use the grant to investigate how molecules are heated by the passage of electrical current and how this heat dissipates.

"I'll look at how we can control heating and cooling processes by changing the molecule's chemical structure. The results will be used to design new thermoelectric materials, which can transform heat or cold to electrical power or vice versa. If we can develop new, efficient thermoelectric materials it will be possible, for example, to utilize waste heat in industrial processes for power generation", says Gemma Solomon. Originally from Perth, Australia,  she received her PhD from the University of Sydney. Since then she has been a post doc in the U.S. for three years at Northwestern University and now she works as an assistant professor in Denmark.

Gemma Solomon moved to Copenhagen in July and is funded by a Steno Grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research | Natural Sciences. She has an office at first floor in D Building, where she amongst others is working with the group theory. It is not a coincidence that the 30-year-old Gemma has chosen to live in Denmark and make a career here.

"I know HCØ and many of the scientists well from my many visits here since 2003, when the Nano-Science Center was new. In addition to all the interesting research going on here, I have a Danish boyfriend I met in Sydney so it is very nice to come and learn Danish ", says Gemma Solomon.

Establishment of a new research group
The ERC grant gives Gemma the opportunity to establish her own research group and in the forthcoming years she will look to employ three PhD students and three post docs on the project.

"It is really exciting to establish my own group.  The project is running for five years so I have some time to find the right people for the research and a good chance to try to make significant progress on this problem", Gemma Solomon concludes.

This schematic digram illustrates an organic molecule bound between two gold electrodes. As electrical current passes the molecule can be heated, gaining energy from the current.