Zachary Goodwin's trip to Heinrich-Heine Universitat Dusseldorf

Having been an Imperial College undergraduate who decided to stay at the College for postgraduate study, at the CDT TSM, it is important that I gain research experience outside of Imperial. In the summer between my undergraduate and postgraduate, I was invited by my nal year research project supervisor, Professor Alexei Kornyshev, to visit the Institute of Theoretical Physics II: Soft Matter at Heinrich-Heine Universitat Dusseldorf. This opportunity allowed me to attain experience in another university, whilst taking part in an international project hosted in Germany, where I established collaborations with foreign researchers. Furthermore, the theoretical project provided a means of developing my technical abilities, which should be invaluable when I start my postgraduate studies.

I worked on the theory of space charge phenomena in concentrated electrolytes during my nal year research project. The work in Dusseldorf was, to a certain extent, a continuation of that work, but in a more applied, smart-material area. Our task was to extend the theory of polymer-electrolyte based electroactuators with thin at-surfaced bendable electrodes, onto the system with micro and nano-structured electrodes. Such extension is crucial from the practical point of view, because making electrodes volume- lling can dramatically enhance electroactuation.

During my stay I was fortunate enough to collaborate with a number of internationally renowned researches: Professor Hartmut Lowen, director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics II: Soft Matter; Professor Michael Eikerling, currently on sabbatical in Lowen's institute; and Professor Kornyshev who visited Lowen's group within a follow-up programme for former Humboldt Awardees. This was enjoyable and gave me experience interacting with exceptional researches.
Despite only having four weeks at Heinrich-Heine Universitat, we were able to mostly achieve the goals set out for electroactuation, and also nish o some work from my nal year. Overall, one paper was published during my time, Electrochem. Commun. 82 (2017) 129-133, on the topic of underscreening, which is currently a revolution in physical chemistry. In addition, one publication is in preparation for the electroactuator work that we plan to submit to PRL.

I am grateful for the support that the Thomas Young Centre provided me whilst I conducted this brief, but productive international research visit, and hope that another opportunity arises during my PhD where I could seek their support again.


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