Jessica Wade


Favourite Thing: I like shining lasers on molecules to see what they are up to!



South Hampstead High School (2000-2007), Chelsea College of Art and Design (2007-2008),Imperial College (2008-present)


5 A-levels (A-Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Art), Foundation Degree from Chelsea, MSci in Physics, currently working toward PhD

Work History:

Imperial College London

Current Job:

A PhD in physics


Imperial College London

Me and my work

I’m making colourful inks that can conduct electricity, then printing them on plastic to make flexible solar panels, bendy mobile phones and roll-up TV screens.

I’m using plastics, just like the bags you get from the supermarket, to make flexible electronic devices like bendy TVs and mobile phones. These are clever plastics which are a bit like the wires in your house that change your iPod or turn on your lights- they can conduct electricity. I make conducting inks from the plastics and print them.

Have you ever thought about what plastics are made of? They are actually made of a long string of molecules, who all join together in a line. I spend lots of my time shining lasers on the molecules to see which direction they are facing. I try to make them all stand in a really straight line so that they can conduct electricity as best as possible.

I’m making things like TV and computer screens using the plastics that emit cool colours of light. We use clever chemistry to change the colour that the plastics can glow. My favourite things we print are the big bendy sheets of solar panels, which we can roll across the desert to catch all of the sunlight and use it usefully.

My Typical Day

I dissolve some plastics and make some conducting inks, print them into cool patterns and look at the different molecules.

Most days I wake up, cycle to university and meet a scientist from the chemistry department. I work with the scientists there to create the best molecules we can so that the electricity can pass through our devices quickly and easily. We want to make really bright lights for our mobile phone and computer screens, clear colours for our TVs and solar panels which can capture as much of the sun’s light as possible.
The chemists give me some of their clever plastics and I take them to my lab where I dissolve them and make a liquid. Then I fill an ink cartridge with the mixture and use a printer like your one at home to print my flexible circuits. I check the way the molecules are lining up using some bright lamps and lasers, and then test the devices- I see how good the solar panels are at turning light into electricity and how brightly the TV screens can shine. Sometimes we do tests to see what happens when we heat the molecules up, squeeze them or cool them down and check what happens if the devices are left outside all day. At the end of the day I go back to my chemist friend and say what I’ve learnt and what we need to change for the next set of molecules.

What I'd do with the money

I’d buy all of the parts to make solar panels and then take this to schools and universities. Working with as many great minds as possible, we’d design the best solar panels possible to get the sun’s energy for electricity. We’d test them at all the different schools I visit and find where they work best!

I spend a lot of time visiting schools and showing them some exciting physics experiments- often ones which the students can do at home! In September I’m hosting a big celebration at my university where we are trying to show girls how cool physics can be.
I’d love to be able to buy lots of apparatus and experiments relating to light, as 2015 is the International Year of Light. I’d buy some new handheld spectrometers and prisms and some solar powered robots.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Cooking crazy physicist

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Fryars- my best friend!

What's your favourite food?

My dad’s cooking!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I’ve cycled to Paris from London

What did you want to be after you left school?

I keep changing my mind! I love physics and art and cooking

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I once got a detention for chewing gum

What was your favourite subject at school?

Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Art!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I’ve been to Samsung HQ in South Korea to talk about my work!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My parents (both incredible doctors) and physics teacher at school (Dr. Walgate)

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A chef!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I could show the whole world how great physics is, I eventually become a physics professor at my university, Arsenal would win a trophy

Tell us a joke.

A neutron walked into a bar and asked, “How much for a drink?” The bartender replied, “For you, no charge.”

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage1 myimage3 myimage2 myimage4

Me in Barcelona last weekend!


Here is my dog on summer holiday:


These are some conducting crystals I printed: