Skip to main content


Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration and Advance Data Storage

Sarah Ruddell

I graduated with a First-Class Honours in MSci Chemistry from Queen’s University Belfast in July 2017.  By the end of my undergraduate degree I was focusing on physical chemistry, and the interdisciplinary cross-over between Chemistry and Physics.  My final year MSci research project was conducted in the Atomistic Simulation Centre, looking at two-dimensional crystals.  I joined the CDT in September 2017. 

PhD Project Title: Novel Materials Synthesis for HAMR Plasmonics 

Primary supervisor: Prof Robert Bowman, Queen’s University Belfast 
Secondary supervisor: Prof Robert Hadfield, University of Glasgow 
Project description: My research, in conjunction with Seagate Technology, focuses on thin film deposition and analysis of potential alternative plasmonic materials, specifically zirconium nitride and other transition metal nitrides, which have higher thermal stabilities and lower optical losses than traditional noble metal candidates such as gold and silver.  A key industrial application of this research is the potential integration of such materials into heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, striving to further increase data storage capabilities.  

General Research/Science Interests: 
I am interested in the areas of nanotechnology, metamaterials, and in general the way in which academic research spans out into the industrial sector.  The ability to take a cool piece of science and scaling it up to be viable in an industrial setting is very exciting.  Outside of my research area, I am fascinated by the depths of the universe, such as black holes and dark matter. 

My research is funded by the EPSRC. 

Talks / Presentations: 
I present my current research at quarterly meetings held by Seagate Technology. 

Conference Presentations/Posters: 
Biryukova, V.; Sharp, G.J.; Klitis, C.; Ruddell, S.; Sorel, M. Trimming of silicon-on-insulator devices via localized laser annealing. Submitted to SPIE Photonics West (2019) [presentation] 

Lambert, C.W.; Ruddell, S.A.; Murphy, A.; Hendren, W.R.; Drakeley, S.; Wilson, B.; Bowman, R.M. Process Compatible Synthesis of High Quality Transition Metal Nitride Alternative Plasmonic Materials. Submitted to Novel Plasmonic Materials, SPP9, Copenhagen (2019) [poster] 

Ruddell, S.A.; Lambert, C.W.; Hendren, W.R.; Drakeley, S.; Venugopal, V.A.; Atmatzakis, E.; Neira, A.; Goggin, A.; Bowman, R.M. Thermal Stability of Zirconium Nitride as an Alternative Plasmonic Material. Submitted to Novel Plasmonic Materials, SPP9, Copenhagen (2019) [poster] 

Lambert, C.W.; Ruddell, S.A.; Murphy, A.F.; Hendren, W.R.; Drakeley, S.; Wilson, B.; Venugopal, V.A.; Atmatzakis, E.; Neira, A.; Goggin, A.; Bowman, R.M. Industrially Viable Synthesis and Thermal Stability of Transition Metal Nitrides as Alternative Plasmonic Materials for Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). Submitted to TMRC (2019) [poster] 

'Lambert, C.W.; Ruddell, S.A.; Lipinski, A.F.; Maity, A.; Edwards, P.R.; Martin, R.; Hendren, W.R.; Bowman, R.M. Plasmonic Potential of TiN and ZrN Nanostructures. Submitted to Photonics Ireland (2021) [poster]'.

CDT Involvement: 
I took part in a time management session as part of the 2020 cohort induction, helping to share my perspectives and tips to the new students. 
Impact Activity:  
I am the Northern Ireland campus lead for the Creator Fund Student Analyst team.  Creator Fund is the first pan-European student Venture Capital fund which invests in student-led start-ups. 

I am a student member of IEEE and the IEEE Photonics Society, The Optical Society (OSA) and American Physical Society (APS).

Outside of Work:

I have an interest in mental health awareness.

I enjoy being out in nature, hillwalking, and drinking lots of tea. 

As I am entering my final year of the CDT PIADS programme, I can reflect on the vast amount of training and knowledge that I have gained, not just relating to my PhD, but also through the Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship that I was able to achieve as part of the programme.  The connection to industry through Seagate Technology during the course of my PhD has been instrumental in developing my aspirations for my future career.  The CDT PIADS programme is so much more than just a PhD. 

Contact me: 
Twitter: @SarahRuddell6

Queen's University Belfast Crest

University of Glasgow Crest