Powering Achievement in Physics
Brock Doiron first decided to study physics because of what he calls “the whole astrophysics Stephen Hawking thing.”
But by second year, thanks to an optics class taught by Dr. Lora Ramunno, Doiron became captivated by a much less popularized field called “plasmonics” – sometimes called “light on a wire” – and began doing research with his professor.
“We’re basically studying the interaction of light and matter, particularly in metals that are as small as a billionth of a metre,” explains Doiron.
His end goal is to improve the design of plasmonic devices that can be used, among other things, to increase the efficiency of solar power cells.
According to Doiron, “These devices can work like miniature antennas, taking a signal and amplifying it, so you could have a much smaller solar cell generating the same amount of power. Plasmonic devices could also be used as bio-sensors, for example, to detect cancer earlier or identify the composition of bodily fluids more accurately.”
Doiron was awarded a uOttawa Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program scholarship to begin his research with Ramunno, and over the last two summers has received Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) from NSERC to continue it. A solid A-student, Doiron has also been the recipient of Yatendra P. Varshni and Stephen Odoysk Memorial scholarships, both of which support students in financial need who demonstrate academic excellence.
Along with his studies and research, Doiron sits on the Physics Department Student Council and is the student representative on the uOttawa Physics Outreach Council. Although his school commitments leave little time for other interests, he is teaching himself German and in the winter likes to get out to snowboard and ice skate.
After graduating this year, Doiron plans to go straight into graduate school and continue his plasmonics research. He ultimately wants to work in industrial research, helping to design and commercialize plasmonic photodetectors, especially for applications in solar power cells.
“I am the first in my family to go to university and I knew I’d have to pay for university myself,” Doiron explains. “Thanks to the financial support I’ve received, I was able to start the research job with Lora Ramunno instead of working part-time. It’s meant I’ve been able to spend more time on my studies and devote myself to physics research.”