Jona Wins Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Doctoral Supervision

Jona has won the award for “Outstanding Doctoral Supervision” in this years Vice-Chancellor’s awards.

This award recognises supportive supervision, whether formal or informal, that guides doctoral students towards becoming independent researchers whose work will make a significant contribution to their academic field. Including supporting the wellbeing and mental health of doctoral students, providing ongoing, constructive feedback on doctoral work and/or encouraging students to engage with wider research opportunities.

Congratulations Jona on an award well-earned!

HONey, I shrank the nanosheets! New paper in Chemical Science

We’ve recently published our collaboration with the research group of Nicholas (or Nick) White (Australian National University), demonstrating the preparation of freestanding and atomically-thin nanosheets of hydrogen bonded frameworks.

In this study, two layered hydrogen-bonded framework systems synthesised by the White group, were exfoliated into ultrathin nanosheets by us! These nanosheets are remarkable not only for their thickness, but also because they can withstand boiling water, and have great potential in sensing applications.

This project was started by a chat between Nick and Jona at the 2016 MICRA meeting in Bath, and now see’s Josh and Stephanie’s combined efforts published in Chemical Science, titled “Monolayer nanosheets formed by liquid exfoliation of charge-assisted hydrogen-bonded frameworks”.

Kez + Dave Have Left the Building

As the winter holiday closure brings another term of Chemistry at Sheffield to a close, the Foster group has watched two of its first PhD students leave the group, as Doctors, for pastures new.

Dave, who joined in 2016, has completed both a PhD and a 1 year PDRA position in the group. As Jona’s first PhD student, he has done a fantastic job in helping lay the foundations of the research group, published 4 papers (so far), presented to MPs, and eaten ~1000 cakes. Dr Dave (and Dr Jen) have now moved to Glasgow, where he will be working with Dr Ashleigh Fletcher and Dr Iain Oswald, studying the structural responsivity of MOFs.

Kez joined us in 2017, as part of the groups second cohort of PhD students. Originally from Kerala, India, Kez embraced all (the best) facets of British life during her time here, though she also spent a stint in Deutschland. Kezia has pioneered the use of MONs in photovoltaics during her PhD, whilst also setting up a company and a solar cell outreach experiment. Kez continues her globetrotting by heading to Prague, where she will be working as an independent Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics.

Everyone in the group is incredibly proud of and inspired by what both Dave and Kez have accomplished in such a short time. We wish you both all the best, we know you’re gonna smash your next projects!

Paging Dr Kez: Another Viva Success

Our very own Kezia Sasitharan passed her PhD viva today, defending her thesis titled “Metal-Organic Nanosheets: A New Dimension in Photovoltaics”. Many thanks to Prof. Jenny Nelson and Prof. Graham Leggett for examining.

A socially distanced viva celebration saw lots of Schloer drank, and a fair few Falafel Kings eaten.

Kezia now heads to Prague to begin a 3 year fellowship position at the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics.

Congratulations Dr Sasitharan!

Ben + Andy Join the Foster Group

The Foster group are welcoming new PhD students this year, Ben and Andy, who have both joined us until 2024.

Ben obtained his MSc with distinction in green chemistry and sustainable industrial technology from York last academic year. His research will be a joint synthetic and spectroscopic study of the enhancement of the selectivity of graphene-based sensors by the addition of our MONs, with the aim of real-time detection of phosphate and other small molecules in soil.

Andy (Jiangtian) has been with us previously in 2019 as an MSc student. He joins us this year as a PhD student, working on mixed matrix membranes MON systems for water purification applications.

Welcome guys!

Dave Wins Thesis Award

Our very own Dr David Ashworth has won the Turner Prize for an outstanding PhD Thesis!

This prize is an annual award established by a gift from the late Emeritus Professor W E S Turner, FRS, for the encouragement of postgraduate students who are at the beginning of their research career.

Dave won the award for his thesis, titled “The Design, Synthesis and Applications of Copper Paddle-Wheel Based Metal-Organic Framework Nanosheets”.

Josh Presents to MPs

Josh travelled to the Houses of Parliament this week to present his research on metal-organic nanosheets for tandem catalysis to MPs.


He was selected as part of the STEM for Britain competition, and met with both Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake, and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield to discuss the work he has been doing during his PhD.

Kez’s Paper Published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A!

Kezia and Jona have published their first paper together! The article, published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, demonstrates the first example of a MON-based solar cell. Addition of porphyrin-based MONs into a bulk heterojunction solar cell shows almost doubling of the power conversion efficiency!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kez-paper-abstract.jpg
The graphical abstract for the J. Mater. Chem. A paper, showing the increase in external quantum efficiency of the device with the addition of MONs.

This paper was highly collaborative, with experiments performed across both the Departments of Chemistry and Physics. Kez worked with the groups of Prof. David Lidzey, Dr Jenny Clark, and Dr Ahmed Iraqi to complete this work.

Congratulations Kez! Here’s to the next one.