27 May 2022. Brought to you by Bethany Stansby.

Saptarsi Ghosh

What is your current job / programme of study? 

I am a scientist (postdoctoral researcher) at the University of Cambridge. 

What A-Levels (or equivalent) did you do? 

Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Biology (A-level equivalent in India). 

Why did you choose a career in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)? 

I have had a keen interest in doing DIY electronics during my childhood. Over the years, I became curious to understand the principle of tiny electronic chips controlled by even tinier electronic devices inside them. As this was only possible by digging into the materials that go into making these devices, I got hooked into Materials Science and Engineering. 

What did you enjoy most about your MSE course?

Properties of every material are dictated by the specific atoms and molecules that are arranged inside it and their particular ordered structure. In my MSE course, I learned about several techniques to ‘characterize’ materials to see these structures, which at times involved hitting them with electrons or X-ray beams. It was like learning new languages by which I could then read materials. I enjoyed this the most. 

What is your research about?  

My research is focused on a material called gallium nitride (GaN). Transistors made from these materials are theoretically promising for energy-efficient electronics. But the material itself is very tricky to make and has plenty of defects which hamper its electronic properties. So plenty of my efforts go into optimizing the material by understanding and controlling the defects.    

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far?  

An experiment that I often do requires cooling down materials to -271.4 °C (i.e. even lower than the average temperature of deep space) to understand the motion of the electrons at a fundamental level.  This is literally one of the ‘coolest’ things that someone can do. 

What do you see yourself doing in the future? 

I love both research and teaching equally, so I plan to keep doing these in future positions. 

What is your favourite material (and why)?  

My favourite material is a class of materials called semiconductors. The boom in 21st-century electronics with smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient gadgets has been heavily dependent on semiconductors. 

What advice would you give your 16 year old self? 

Keep doing things that you love, you will end up great.  

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