Scientist

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Deployment after graduation

I started work in December 2010 as a scientist (post-doctoral researcher) in the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. Here I worked in the group headed by Dr. Joel Yang, A*STAR Investigator (now Asst. Prof.  Joel Yang, SUTD Singapore).

Electron Beam Lithography

The main skill I picked up here was electron beam lithography, a technique whereby we used a fine beam of electrons to shape nanostructures on surfaces. This is a technique commonly used in the semiconductor and wafer fabrication industries. I was able to make structures down to 10 nm reliably, and control gaps between structures down to 5 nm.

Breakthrough: Printing colour at the optical diffraction limit

In late 2011 to early 2012, I started experimenting on creating colour images using gold and silver coated nanostructures. We discovered that the effect we were observing not only allowed us to create a full pallette of colours, but we were also able to conclusively prove that the optical diffraction limit postulated by Ernst Abbe could be measured. This was the subject of our paper in Nature Nanotechnology, entitled "Printing Colour at the Optical Diffraction Limit". I was the first author of that paper. We also bagged the cover image of that month's issue. Subsequently, we also got a paper in Nature Communications and Nano Letters, and filed 3 patents in this space. See link to an article in the Economist describing our effort.

Transition to Research Administration

In October 2012, I started a stint at the Biomedical Research Council. I transitioned fully to research administration in May 2013.

Google Scholar Citations

My publications and patents may be tracked via Google Scholar Citations. In addition I have included a full list of my publications, patents and conferences in the home page of this website.

Dr. sc. ETH Zürich

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How my scientific career began

Back in late 2004, I was doing my Masters Thesis in the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LSST). I had an epiphany, at which time I decided that I wanted to do a PhD. I was on an EDB scholarship at the time, which was not meant to fund a PhD. After some lobbying, I was allowed to apply to another statutory board, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) for a scholarship to fund my PhD. I was successful in obtaining the National Science Scholarship (PhD), and that was how my scientific career was launched.

Grad School on an A*STAR NSS(PhD) scholarship

As part of my A*STAR scholarship, I worked for 1 year as a research officer in the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering from Aug 2005 to Aug 2006. I applied to 4 schools to do my PhD in Materials Science - UCSB, Stanford, Leeds, and ETH Zürich. I was accepted into all institutions. But my heart was set on Zurich, and that is where I ended up, in Sep 2006, back in the Laboratory of Surface Science and Technology. I started my PhD work under the guidance of Prof Dr Marcus Textor, in the lab of Prof Dr Nicholas Spencer. My supervisor was Dr Erik Reimhult (now Prof Dr Erik Reimhult, at BOKU Vienna). 

Project #1: Formation of pore spanning supported lipid bilayers

I started my PhD work under the guidance of Prof Dr Marcus Textor, in the lab of Prof Dr Nicholas Spencer. My supervisor was Dr Erik Reimhult (now Prof Dr Erik Reimhult, at BOKU Vienna).  The aim of my thesis work was to establish a sensor platform for G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). The approach I took was to use cleanroom microfabrication techniques to fabricate nanostructured silicon nitride, over which I was to form spanning supported lipid bilayers through liposome fusion. While the outcome was somewhat different, through my work we were able to establish the importance of adsorbing surface chemical cues within the nanostructures to enable the spanning of supported lipid bilayers.


Project #1A: Collaboration at Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

As part of my main PhD project, I had the opportunity to engage in a collaboration with the lab of Prof Stefan Hell in Göttingen, Germany. This was 5 years before Prof Hell won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014. We had the opportunity to work with his Nobel prize winning microscope, the Stimulated Emulation and Depletion and 4π microscopes. I can safely confirm that they do indeed beat the diffraction limit of light.

Project #2: Nanoplasmonics

While fabricating sensor platforms mentioned in Project #1, I noticed that I was able to deposit gold nanostructures within nanowells. In fact, they had such an interesting shape, and I coined the term 'nanomenhir'. I showed that the nanomenhirs were unique bi-directional sensors, able to sense transport across a distance of less than 100nm. 

PhD Thesis

My thesis entitled "Treatise on the Formation and Sensing of Lipid Structures on Nanofabricated Arrays was submitted in September 2010, and defended in October 2010. Click on the link to access the public copy of my thesis.