Claudia Tait

Case study: Claudia Tait

Photo of Claudia Tait

Fellowship: Royal Society University Research Fellowship

Title of the research: Insights into Fundamental Processes in Solar Energy Technology by Advanced EPR

About the research

My research focuses on investigating spins and spin-dependent processes in materials and devices for photovoltaics using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) and on developing this technique further to enable new insights into the fundamental photophysical processes at the basis of the conversion of solar energy to electricity.

Our current focus is the investigation of the charge separation process in organic photovoltaics: light excitation and exciton diffusion to the interface of donor and acceptor materials is followed by an electron transfer generating charged species with unpaired electron spins on the donor and on the acceptor that ultimately separate to generate electricity. We use a variety of EPR techniques to characterise the nature and dynamics of these spin-carrying charged species in a series of state-of-the-art materials for organic photovoltaics with the aim to identify molecular requirements for efficient charge separation.

We are also working on pulse sequence development for EPR on photoexcited paramagnetic states, exploiting advantages provided by arbitrarily shaped microwave pulses that allow more precise control over spin manipulations.

How will this fellowship help my career progression?

The five-year University Research Fellowship, with the opportunity to apply for a three-year extension, allows me to focus on developing and establishing an independent research agenda without too many teaching and administrative commitments. The Royal Society also provides generous funding for research expenses and postdoctoral researchers and thereby supports early career researchers in establishing their own research groups.

The Royal Society also supports the career development of fellows through training courses, mentoring opportunities and events promoting networking among Royal-Society-funded research fellows at different stages of their fellowships.

The support the University provides

The Department's Research Facilitation and Finance teams were very helpful during the fellowship application process and continue to help with advice on funding opportunities and grant applications. I've also been assigned an academic mentor by the Department for support with the transition from a postdoctoral researcher to a research group leader. The University and Department give Early Career Fellows the same opportunities to apply for studentships and internal funding as the permanent academic staff. The Chemistry Department also kindly provides my group access to the Centre for Advanced Electron Spin Resonance for my research.


I obtained my BSc and MSc in Chemistry from the University of Padova before coming to Oxford for a DPhil in Christiane Timmel’s group, using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance spectroscopy to probe the electronic and molecular structures of artificial supramolecular porphyrin assemblies and biological systems. After a postdoc at the University of Washington with Stefan Stoll focusing on instrumentation and method development for pulse EPR, and a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin in Jan Behrends’ group working on investigating materials for organic electronics using EPR, I joined the Chemistry Department as a Royal Society University Research Fellow.