School of Pharmacy

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Alexandra Thomas

Postgraduate Research Student,



Alex obtained her MChem Chemistry degree in 2022 from Bangor University being awarded the Muriel Edwards award for outstanding academic performance in her final year. In her third-year research project, she specialised in nanochemistry for solar energy conversion technologies and in her fourth-year, she undertook a collaborative project of her own design between Bangor University and the University of Liverpool researching the use of PEDOT polymer derivatives for applications in organic electronics and biomaterials. During the summer of 2021, Alex undertook the position of research technician for the BioComposites Centre, based at Bangor University, conducting research into the modification of soils for the bioremediation of metals for increase agricultural efficiency. From July 2022, Alex has been engaged in PhD studies with the School of Pharmacy with a specialisation of the use of aerogels for astropharmaceutical applications.

Expertise Summary

  • Nanoparticle semiconductor synthesis.
  • Polymer synthesis.
  • Materials characterisation via x-ray diffraction, UV/Vis, IR and SEM.
  • Quantitative analysis of environmental samples using ICP-OES.
  • Electronic conductivity and thermal stress testing.
  • General chemical and physical laboratory skills.
  • COSHH, First Aid and Fire Safety trained.

Research Summary

Nottingham-Adelaide Joint PhD studentship in the University of Nottingham/ EPSRC Thematic doctoral programme in Astropharmacy, Astromedicine, Astrofoods/health and Astrofarming.


Development of analyte sensitive fluorescent aerogels for space applications


Veeren Chauhan (,

Jonathan Aylott (,

Volker Hessel (,

Chun-Xia Zhao (,

Ian Fisk (,

Phil Williams (


The project will aim to develop analyte sensitive fluorescent aerogels for space applications.


The project will focus produce aerogels that respond to analyst such as pH and Oxygen for space applications produced with silica hydrogels and supercritical carbon dioxide. Aerogels utility will be explored to capture and monitor space debris and hydroponics for extra-terrestrially grown plants. Further research will also be conducted to develop aerogels as a novel platform for the development of pharmaceutical diagnostics, by integrating disease specific analyte molecules that could transduce a spectroscopic signal.

Past Research

Jan - May 2022: Synthesis and characterisation of PEDOT derivative polymers for organoelectronic applications.


In this project, the poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) polymer, poly(3,4- ethylenedioxythiophene):nickelphthalocyanine (PEDOT:NiPc), and copper nanoparticle and MWCNT secondary doped PEDOT:PSS polymer were synthesised via oxidative polymerisation to study their electrical conductivity and how conductivity changes with a change in surfactant and introduction of secondary dopants. These different PEDOT polymers were characterised via UV/Vis spectroscopy, broadband dielectric spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermogravometric analysis (TGA), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Results showed that the MWCNT-doped polymer derivatives gave the highest conductivity of all the derivatives synthesised due to a delocalisation of an electron within the MWCNT's enabling the conductivity to be higher compared to the other PEDOT samples. Differing polymer morphologies were observed including flaked microsheets (PEDOT:PSS), microrods (PEDOT:NiPc), and nanospheres (Cu-PEDOT:PSS). It was determined that the MWCNT doped derivatives would make for an excellent use in organic electronics. Further research may include the synthesis of Ag-doped polymers due to Ag's antimicrobial properties giving it an interesting potential in biomaterials.

Sept 2020 - May 2021: The size capping of zinc oxide nanocrystals for solar energy conversion.


Recent research into nanocrystals has become important within materials science as they hold the potential for use in many different applications. The focus of this work is to examine the size capping of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles for solar energy conversion. This is achieved with the use of different capping agents on zinc oxide nanocrystals and observing the effects capping has on its band gap, morphology, and crystallite/particle size. The goal of capping zinc oxide is to decrease the particle size allowing more light to scatter within the solar cell, therefore, increasing the power conversion efficiency of the cell. This was achieved by conventional synthesis of zinc oxide using both polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) as capping agents. PVP and PVA were used in the following metal:polymer ratios: 5:1, 5:2, 5:3, 5:4, 5:5 with an uncapped sample of ZnO also being synthesised. These ratios were successfully synthesised and produced a range of decreasing band gaps from 3.31 eV - 3.25 eV, particle sizes measuring 8.5 nm - 5.7 nm and crystalline sizes measuring 31.28 nm - 21.38 nm. The physical properties of zinc oxide were determined by UV/Vis spectroscopy and powder X-ray diffraction (pXRD).

School of Pharmacy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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