Dr Dan Credgington
MSci, MA, PhD (UCL)
Official Fellow; Director of Studies in Natural Sciences (Biological and Physical)
University Research Fellow
I am a Royal Society Research Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory (also occasionally known as the Department of Physics) and I’ve always been fascinated by how manipulating matter on the smallest scales lies at the heart of so much of our technology. Pursuing this has taken me from my hometown of Rugby to an undergraduate at Emmanuel and Harvard, a PhD at the London Centre for Nanotechnology at UCL, postdoctoral work at the Centre for Plastic Electronics at Imperial College and, inevitably, back to Cambridge again. Along with the slightly spooky resurrection of my old CRSID, I was delighted to re-establish links with Emma as a Fellow and College Lecturer, and to take on the role of Director of Studies for the Physics undergraduates.
Over the years, my research has focussed down to the study of electronic devices made from nano-structured plastic materials. Plastics are normally thought of simply as flexible insulators, but with the right modifications the organic (carbon-based) molecules which form them can be coaxed into becoming semiconductors – meaning they can interact with visible light and be used to make transistors, solar cells and light-emitting diodes. Since plastic materials are routinely printed, pressed, spun and rolled each year on square-kilometre scales at very low cost, plastic devices promise to be cheaper, more flexible and more lightweight than existing technologies, and so become far more ubiquitous. As a scientist, organic semiconductors present a multitude of new challenges, as they are fundamentally different to existing materials and their effectiveness is intimately tied to their nano-scale structure.
My particular interests lie in discovering how manipulating the structure and composition of plastic devices affects the recombination of electrons and holes within them. At Imperial I studied these processes in finely-mixed composites of polymers and buckyballs, where they dictate the performance of organic solar cells. Here in Cambridge, I’m studying how changing the structure of fluorescent and phosphorescenct polymers and small molecules can be used to control the interactions between electrons via their quantum-mechanical “spin”, which should lead to new ways of making cheap, large-area LED lighting.
More widely, I lead a team of researchers exploring new ways to use solution-processable materials for cheap, efficient power generation and energy conversion. We specialise in optical and electrical spectroscopy of thin-film materials, trying to link fundamental molecular properties to the operation of complete semiconductor devices.