Samantha is a PhD candidate researching energy transport in organic solar cells (OSCs) at the Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems, University of Queensland. OSCs are flexible, light-weight and cheaper to produce than conventional solar panels, but they are not yet efficient enough for large scale applications. Samantha’s research aims to understand the underlying quantum physics of OSCs so that we can design more efficient devices.
Samantha’s work could also shed light on the mechanics of photosynthesis, as well as provide important foundations for emerging quantum technology. She was recognised earlier this year as an “Australian Science Superhero” by Australia’s Chief Scientist for her work in this field as well as her passion for science communication and advocating for women in STEM.
Samantha graduated as valedictorian from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Maths and Logic and Philosophy of Science. Samantha received first class honours for her project studying cavity induced entanglement in Bose-Einstein condensates. Prior to completing her Bachelor degrees Samantha participated in two summer semester research projects at the Centre for Atom Optics and one summer research project at the Queensland Brain institute.
Samantha wants to unite her background in quantum mechanics and passion for renewable technology to understand the underlying quantum physics of solar cells.
Solar power is our largest supply of clean, renewable energy. Samantha’s research focuses on organic solar cells (OSC’s) which are light, flexible and cost effective. Organic in this sense means that the solar cells are composed of mainly hydrogen and carbon molecules so they are like a futuristic electronic plastic, making possible applications very versatile.
However, right now OSC’s are not efficient enough at generating power to be commercially viable. Scientists don’t even understand how OSC’s fundamentally work which means we can’t predict how to improve them. Samantha uses physics and computer simulations to solve these problems, including solving a longstanding puzzle concerning how charges separate in these devices to create electricity.
Samantha’s work paves the way for more efficient, versatile and cost-effective solar technology which promises to create cheap, clean power.
Samantha is passionate about engaging the public with science, as well as raising awareness of the unique challenges faced by women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
From 2015-2016 Samantha was President of the UQ Science Demo Troupe, a group of 15 science students who do shows for the public. During her time as President, the Demo Troupe performed for 7 state schools in Brisbane and Rockhampton, reaching about 2,000 students, as well as holding workshops at UQ. They were invited to be in the Street Science team for the World Science Festival, which attracted 120,367 attendees. The Demo Troupe also went to National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’s (NAIDOC) festival to show exciting science experiments.
Part of Samantha’s outreach is communicating science to both her colleagues and the public. Samantha has experience presenting her work to people with a wide variety of scientific backgrounds. In 2016, Samantha represented the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQuS) at the Women in Science Australia’s inaugural Symposium in Melbourne and The National Press Club’s Panel on Women in Science in Australia in Canberra. Samantha also represented EQuS at Science Meets Parliament in March 2017.
Samantha is a passionate advocate for women in STEM. In 2016 Samantha organised a sold out networking lunch for women in STEM in Brisbane. Since 2015, Samantha was a representative on the School of Mathematics and Physics Equity and Diversity Committee. Samantha led an initiative to provide recommendations to staff on how to create an inclusive classroom environment to ensure women can participate equally in all learning activities.
Samantha also engaged with amazing young people on a national level when she was invited to Junkee media’s inaugural Junket in 2015 (a meeting bringing together “Australia’s best and brightest young influencers”), where she held a session to discuss how we can improve science communication in Australia.
Samantha appeared on ABC612 radio to discuss the need for gender diversity in science last year. This radio interview marked the UN’s first International Day for Women and Girls in Science, reaching an audience of 30,000 locals from Brisbane.
Binge Thinking with Caspar Roxburgh
Sitting with Caspar Roxburgh to talk the “Physics of Solar Power” on his podcast featuring millennial experts
Women with Heart
Chatting with Australian heart surgeon Dr. Nikki Stamp about sourcing energy from solar power & women in STEM.
Women in Science AU Profile
Australian Science Superhero
Prof. Alan Finkel named Samantha an Australian Science Superhero in the lead up to National Science Week 2017.
News: One of 6 Australian Young Innovators
Part of a Ford advertising campaign for news.com.au featuring the work of 6 young Australians.
Article: Harvesting Light in a Quantum World
Here Samantha writes about the fascinating mystery of how plants collect and use sunlight to create sugars and oxygen (a process called photosynthesis).
Connecting Women in STEMM
Samantha writes about the inaugural women in science Australia symposium 2016 for the Women in physics blog.
QLD Chief Scientist Activity Book
The Chief Scientist for QLD’s office featured Samantha and other QLD scientists in this activity book for kids.
E Collado-Fregoso, SN Hood, S Shoaee, BC Schroeder, I McCulloch, I Kassal, D Neher, JR Durrant “Intercalated vs Nonintercalated Morphologies in Donor–Acceptor Bulk Heterojunction Solar Cells: PBTTT: Fullerene Charge Generation and Recombination Revisited” J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 8, 17 (2017).
SN Hood, I Kassal “Entropy and disorder enable charge separation in organic solar cells” J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 7, 22 (2016).
SS Szigeti, B Tonekaboni, WYS Lau, SN Hood, SA Haine “Squeezed-light-enhanced atom interferometry below the standard quantum limit” Phys. Rev. A 90, 6 (2014).