Trinity student, Dr Junsi Wang, has won the prestigious Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Young Irish Chemist 2017 award, which was sponsored by Henkel Global Ltd.
Dr Wang’s thesis, entitled: In search of strong light-harvesting and long-lived Ru(II) and Ir(III) triplet photosensitisers, focuses on a process that improves the efficiency of solar cells and broadens the application of photodynamic therapy in the treatment of certain types of cancer.
Dr Wang is a graduate in Chemical Engineering from Dalian University of Technology in China. She came to Ireland in 2013, having obtained an Irish Research Council PG Scholarship to carry out a PhD in the group of Professor Sylvia Draper.
Her essay, based on the findings of this thesis, describes a body of work in which she designs and synthesises a series of heavy metal coordination complexes, which she optimised for an optical process called upconversion. This energy transfer process uses the metal complex as a photosensitiser — capturing low energy light and converting it into emitted light of a higher energy.
Work on triplet photosensitisers began in earnest in the Draper research team in 2011. Over 10 high-impact articles have emerged since, and several of these have been selected as hot papers or front cover articles. The work builds on an Irish-Sino collaboration with Professor J. Zhao and demonstrates the importance of global research engagement. The collaborative team has been short-listed twice for the Irish Laboratory Awards (in 2016 and 2017).
Professor Draper said: “I am delighted for Junsi and for the recognition this gives to the group’s research. Trinity is a real powerhouse of innovative chemical research, and the Draper group is just one of those in Chemistry here that is making its presence felt in bringing fundamental research into the public domain.”
“The next step for our materials is in the photo-activation of industrial polymerisation processes. Junsi’s compounds are being used as embedded light-sources in very new and emerging technologies — I can’t wait to see what happens next.”