Skip to main content


UCC physicist awarded Fellowship for semiconductor research

7 Dec 2023

University College Cork (UCC) physicist Dr. Christopher Broderick has been awarded a prestigious fellowship to theoretically investigate new capabilities in photonic and electronic devices based on nanowires; filaments of semiconductor material one-thousandth the breadth of a human hair.

A partnership between the Royal Society and Science Foundation Ireland to support outstanding early-career researchers, the prestigious University Research Fellowship (URF) is awarded to early-career researchers who have demonstrated the potential to become leaders in their field, providing them with long-term support to transition to an independent research career.

Dr. Broderick was awarded his PhD in the School of Physics at UCC in 2015. He has since held postdoctoral positions at the University of Bristol, at Tyndall National Institute, where he was the National University of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow in the Sciences, and most recently at the University of California, Santa Barbara as a European Commission Marie-Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellow.

Dr. Broderick has been awarded a URF, valued at €1.12m, for his project entitled “Enabling atomistic in silico design of semiconductor nanowire heterostructures”, which will commence in 2024 at the School of Physics in UCC.

At the nanoscale semiconductors are crystals formed of repeating arrays of atoms with their rich and useful properties emerging via quantum mechanics, which governs the behaviour of the atoms’ electrons. Dr. Broderick’s research will focus on identifying and optimising the possibilities offered by nanostructured semiconductor nanowires, to inform potential applications in future integrated photonic and electronic devices. Nanowires present exciting opportunities to enhance device performance for applications ranging from LEDs, lasers and solar cells to sensors, computer processors and quantum computing.

Desirable physical properties can be enhanced by engineering nanowires via their atomic structure, to realise “heterostructures” that combine different materials in a “core-shell” configuration (as in a coaxial cable), or by alternating the underlying crystal structure along the nanowire’s length. This extends a familiar concept in that hard, shiny diamond is markedly different from dull, flaky graphite. Both diamond and graphite are made solely of carbon, with their radically different properties being a direct consequence of their different crystal structures.

  • Christopher Broderick’s research will produce an enhanced understanding of new capabilities in nanowires - filaments of semiconductor material one-thousandth the breadth of a human hair.
  • Broderick is the fourth UCC scientist to receive a Royal Society-Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellowship.

Broderick said: “I am deeply honoured to have been awarded a University Research Fellowship. My research will develop theoretical models, and apply these models via numerical simulations, to predict and engineer the properties of semiconductor nanowires that combine multiple materials and crystal structures. This will produce an enhanced understanding of the potential of nanowires as an emerging technological platform, to guide experimental and engineering efforts to realise new capabilities in future semiconductor devices. This award comes at an exciting time, as UCC expands its research activities in the Quantum & Photonics area as part of the UCC Futures initiative. I look forward to contributing to this initiative by developing my research in the School of Physics.

Professor Paul Callanan, Head of School of Physics at UCC said: "The School of Physics is delighted for Christopher and look forward to the breakthroughs that will come from his innovative approaches to modelling the materials we need for novel device applications. We have no doubt that Christopher’s presence in the School will inspire a new generation of researchers in this key area of expertise.

Professor John Cryan, Vice President for Research and Innovation at UCC said: “Congratulations to Dr Christopher Broderick on receiving a prestigious Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellowship. Dr Broderick will join world leading researchers in UCC Futures - Quantum & Photonics at the School of Physics in UCC and at Tyndall National Institute, and his research will push the limits of quantum and photonics research – a key element of the second quantum revolution.

Dr. Broderick is the fourth UCC scientist to be awarded a URF. He joins previous UCC URF awardees Dr. Pauline Scanlan (School of Microbiology, 2015), Dr. Lynette Keeney (Tyndall National Institute, 2015), and Dr. Rebecca Henry (Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience, 2022). Participation in the URF scheme for scientists based in the Republic of Ireland is made possible via a partnership between The Royal Society and Science Foundation Ireland.

School of Physics

Scoil na Fisice

Room 213 (Physics Office), 2nd floor, Kane Science Building, University College Cork, Ireland.,