MacDiarmid Alumni

In this section we highlight some alumni of the MacDiarmid Institute:

Dr. Ojas Mahapatra, CEO (Photonic Innovations Ltd.)

Dr Ojas Mahapatra, who recently finished his doctorate in Physics at University of Canterbury, has been offered the role of the CEO of a Dunedin based company Photonic Innovations Ltd. He was supervised and mentored by Prof Simon Brown in his doctoral research. Ojas was one of the co-founders of MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association (MESA) and served on the 2010-2011 committee.

Photonic Innovations Ltd is a spin out from University of Otago that aims to commercialize a novel gas detection technology developed jointly at The Dodd Walls Centre for Quantum Science and Technology and Department of Physics. The gas detection technology boasts of very high accuracy, fast response time, calibration and maintenance free features and it virtually eliminates false alarms (a common issue with most gas detectors currently in the market).

Ojas joined the Physics department at the University of Canterbury in 2010 after receiving a MacDiarmid Institute funded scholarship. After completion of his PhD, Ojas joined Powerhouse Ventures Ltd (intellectual property commercialisation company based in Christchurch) for a brief period of time following which he was offered the role to lead Photonic Innovations Ltd. Powerhouse Ventures are also investors in the company.

We wish Ojas success in all his future endeavours.

Dr. Eric Le Ru, Senior Lecturer (Victoria University Wellington)

Eric Le Ru studied physics at Ecole Polytechnique (Paris) and obtained a PhD in 2002, working at Imperial College London on semiconductor quantum dots for telecom applications. After a one-year postdoctoral position at Imperial College, he moved to New Zealand in 2004 as a postdoctoral fellow of the MacDiarmid institute, working with Pablo Etchegoin at Victoria University of Wellington. He is now a Senior Lecturer in physics at Victoria.

His research focuses on various aspects, both theoretical and experimental, of nano-photonics, with a particular emphasis on nano-plasmonics; i.e. the study and applications of the optical properties of sub-wavelength metallic objects, and related applications in surface-enhanced spectroscopies (Raman and fluorescence). This work has resulted in over 50 publications since 2004 and was recently complemented by the publication of a book, co-authored with Pablo Etchegoin, on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy.

For a video profile featuring Eric, please click here.

Dr. Sam Yu, Research & Business Development Manager (Izon)

Sam joined Izon as Research and Business Development Manager. Since then he has been engaged in technical & business development work with a number of Izon clients and collaborators in: Singapore, China, Australia, Taiwan, NZ and USA, including A*Star Institutes, MIT, NIST, Harvard Medical, ATCC, JHU, Duke, Boston University, NMI, CSIRO, AWRI, AIBN, Ian Wark, MacDiarmid and Aeras Vaccine Foundation. He has worked with these groups on a wide range of application areas for Izon technology, from virology to drug delivery systems.

Sam was also heavily involved in the R&D of Izon’s new VPM system, which was officially launched in April 2010. Sam has been involved in the bio-nanotechnology field for the past 10 years. Prior to joining Izon he worked with Prof Alison Downard at University Canterbury and the MacDiarmid Institute for Nanotechnology, in the creation of well defined chemical patterns of nano-layers of molecules and nanoparticles to‘smarten’ and functionalize materials. He has published papers in American, English and Japanese journals.

Sam has a B.Sc (1st Hons) and Ph.D in Chemistry from University of Canterbury. He was honoured by the New Zealand Government Tertiary Education Commission as a Top Achievers Doctoral Scholar in 2004 and is also the recipient of the Fenwick Prize in Chemistry at UC. In 2005, he received an Excellent Young Researcher Award from Japan’s Surface Science and Nanotechnology Society. Specialties: Nanoscience, Nanoparticles, Surface Chemistry, Science Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Commercialization of Science

Dr. Simon Granville, Scientist (Industrial Research Limited)

Simon Granville was a PhD student with the MacDiarmid Institute from 2003-2006.  His supervisors were Em. Prof. Joe Trodahl and Dr. Ben Ruck, and for his PhD project he worked on exploring the properties of a number of thin film materials of great promise in the rapidly developing field of spintronics – the art of enhancing traditional electronics with spin or magnetic effects.  This work at the MacDiarmid Institute taught him the crucial skill of how to use fundamental physics to link together a wide range of different material properties.

From 2007-2010 Simon held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Swiss Federal Institute EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.  While there he worked in the group of Prof. Jean-Philippe Ansermet, one of the leading names in the ongoing research into understanding spintronics in multilayered and nanosized structures.  Simon is now a research scientist in the Superconductivity and Energy group at Industrial Research Ltd. in Lower Hutt, where he continues to work in spintronics with the aim of applying his experience in materials to develop real-world devices for use in New Zealand and beyond.

At this early stage of his career Simon is co-author of 30 journal articles and has given numerous formal and informal presentations on his research throughout New Zealand, Europe and North America.  He likes to maintain close relations with all his colleagues, in particular those at the Victoria University of Wellington, and he is always enthusiastic to talk to those interested in experimental materials physics or in his experiences as a PhD student in the MacDiarmid Institute.


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