UL graduate wins Kathleen Lonsdale Prize for best chemistry PhD thesis in Ireland

A UL graduate has won the Royal Irish Academy’s Kathleen Lonsdale Chemistry Prize. Dr. Xinxin Xiao, a Ph.D. Chemistry graduate of UL, won the award which is granted to the best PhD thesis in chemical sciences across the island of Ireland.

The award, which is sponsored by Henkel and formally known as the Young Chemist Prize, is granted to the most outstanding Irish Ph.D. thesis in the general area of the chemical sciences.

This year’s winner, Dr Xiao, studied Materials Science and Engineering at the Shandong University, China (B.S., 2011) and obtained his master degree in 2014 from the same university, where he studied the use of dealloyed nanoporous gold (NPG) in the development of electrochemical biosensors. He was awarded an Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship in 2014 to carry out his Ph.D. studies at UL under the supervision of Professor Edmond Magner.

Currently, Dr Xiao is a postdoc researcher at the Technical University of Denmark.

The prize is in recognition of Dr Xiao’s thesis entitled 'Development of Nanoporous Gold based Bioelectrodes'. His Ph.D. project focused on the use of nanoporous gold-based biofuel cells to generate electricity from body fluids. Such cells are of interest in the development of implantable and wearable power sources for bioelectronic devices.

Dr Xiao has successfully demonstrated several prototype cells, including self-powered pulse generators mimicking those used in pacemakers, contact lens-supported flexible biofuel cells which can generate power from lactate present in tears, and a self-powered drug release system that can enable controllable and on-demand drug delivery.

Each year the winner of the Academy’s Kathleen Lonsdale Chemistry Prize is put forward to compete for the IUPAC-Solvay prize. Last year’s winner, Dr. Fergus Poynton, went on to win one of the five highly competitive IUPAC-Solvay International Awards for Young Chemists and to represent Ireland at the World Chemistry Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil in July 2018.

This outstanding achievement demonstrates the strength of Science scholarship in Ireland and the health of its vibrant research community.