Meet the Researcher: Aaron Hennessy

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Aaron is a CONFIRM PhD Student based at the University of Limerick.

“Do what interests you. You’ll perform better and enjoy it more if you like it.”

Tell us a bit about your research...

Robots can come in many shapes and be designed to carry out many tasks from sanitation to production. A major limitation to mobile robots is their battery life and charging time.
I am working on developing new bespoke battery technology for autonomous mobile robots to maximize their potential. Using materials such as silicon can significantly increase the capacity of batteries and is environmentally sustainable.
However, silicon expands quite dramatically when charging (about 400%!) and this expansion can quickly lead to battery failure.
My research aims to use cutting-edge nanotechnology and chemistry to overcome the issues and maximize the performance of silicon in high-capacity batteries. These batteries will be essential for mobile robots in the near future.

Could you give a real-world application of your research?

In crises such as COVID-19, sanitation robots would be particularly useful. They would need a high capacity battery to power both their movement and the UV light which they use to disinfect surfaces.

What did you study as an Undergraduate?

I studied Applied Physics at the University of Limerick for my BSc. It was a broad course but it gave me a taste of just how useful physics is and the branches that interested me most.

What made you decide to go into research?

Curiosity to be honest. There are many intriguing things in the world, most of which we take for granted every day. I find it very satisfying to be able to understand how something works and to use that knowledge to come up with something of my own design.

What do you enjoy most about being a PhD Student or Post-Doc?

There are several aspects that I enjoy. I like getting into the gritty details behind my experiments and overcoming obstacles along the way. It is rather satisfying when you look back and see the progress you have made, though it’s the collaboration and sharing of knowledge with the people around me that I enjoy most.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about a career or research in STEM?

Do what interests you. You’ll perform better and enjoy it more if you like it.

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