Jessica Boland

Jessica Boland


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Personal profile


Dr Jessica Boland is a Senior Lecturer of Functional Materials and Devices in the Materials and Devices Division in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Manchester. She is a member of the Photonic Materials and Devices Group in the Photon Science Institute and her research is directly aligned with the Atom to Devices and 2D Materials theme within Henry Royce Institute. Her current research focuses on combining ultrafast optical-pump terahertz-probe spectroscopy with scanning near-field optical microscopy to provide a unique tool for examining the ultrafast carrier dynamics of III-V nanostructures, 2D materials and topolocial insulators with femtosecond temporal resolution, nanometre spatial resolution and surface-sensitivity.

Jessica undertook her first degree at the University of Exeter, obtaining an MPhys with Professional Experience (first class with honours) in 2013. During this time, she worked for Hewlett Packard Labs in Bristol (now Folium Optics), developing and patenting diffuse cholesteric liquid crystal reflectors for use in reflective liquid-crystal displays (the next colour Kindles!). She conducted her Masters project with Professor Roy Sambles in microwave plasmonics, designing new metamaterials that host spoof surface plasmons.

She then moved to the University of Oxford in 2013 to study for her PhD under the supervision of Professor Michael Johnston. She received her DPhil in 2017 for her thesis entitled 'Terahertz Spectroscopy of Semiconductor Nanowires for Device Applications'. She developed a novel technique based on terahertz spectroscopy for extracting key optoelectronic properties in doped III-V nanowires. She also assisted in demonstrating prototype single-nanowire terahertz detectors and developed the first ultrafast optically-switchable nanowire-based terahertz modulators for ultrafast wireless communication. In 2017, she was awarded an EPSRC Doctoral Prize to continue this research, investigating III-V nanowires for solar cell applications.

In November 2017, she was awarded the Institute of Physics Jocelyn Bell Burnell medal and prize for 'outstanding early academic research and promotion of others in the field'. This prize was awarded to her for her PhD and postdoctoral research, as well as her work to promote diversity and accessibility in STEM. She was also awarded the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt fellowship for postdoctoral researchers and moved to the University of Regensburg to work in the group of Professor Rupert Huber. Here, she utilised scattering-type near-field midinfrared microscopy to investigate the ultrafast surface carrier dynamics of topological insulators. She was appointed as a Lecturer of functional materials and devices in 2018, moving discipline to Electronic and Electrical Engineering. 



  • 2009-2013: MPhys with Professional Experience, University of Exeter
  • 2011-2012: Hardware Engineer Internship at Hewlett Packard Labs, Bristol
  • 2013-2017: DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics, University of Oxford
  • 2016-2017: EPSRC Doctoral Prize, University of Oxford
  • 2016-2017: University College Lecturer, University of Oxford
  • 2017-2018: Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, University of Regensburg
  • 2018-present: Lecturer in Functional Materials and Devices, Photon Science Institute, School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Manchester

Research interests

Dr Boland's research interests are focused on revealing the ultrafast carrier dynamics of novel nanomaterials via terahertz spectroscopy. She is an expert in ultrafast optical-pump terahertz-probe spectroscopy - a non-contact technique for directly extracting the dielectric function and photoconductivity of a material. She has utilised this technique on semiconductor nanostructures, demonstrating accurate characterisation of their key optoelectronic properties, including carrier mobility, carrier lifetime and both intrinsic and extrinsic carrier concentration. She has also utilised near-field scattering-type midinfrared microscopy to demonstrate increased spatial resolution down to the nanometre-scale, performing nanotomography on topological insulator thin films. She is currently applying this technique to the terahertz range, combining scattering-type near-field optical microscopy with optical-pump terahertz-probe spectroscopy to provide a surface-sensitive probe of electrical conductivity and photoconductive with sub-picosecond temporal and nanometre spatial resolution. Her research focuses on exploiting this technique alongside far-field terahertz spectroscopy to reveal the ultrafast carrier dynamics of topological insulators, 2D materials and III-V nanowires.

Research Capabilities:

Ultrafast terahertz time-domain spectroscopy

Ultrafast optical-pump terahertz-probe spectroscopy

Terahertz scattering-type near-field optical microscopy (THz-SNOM)


Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • Supporting Member of Arbeitskreis Chancengleichheit (AKC) in Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG / German Physical Society)
  • Member of the Institute of Physics


Current open positions


Research Opportunites

Research undertaken in this group falls into two main interests:

(1) Terahertz spectroscopy and/or microscopy of novel nanostructured materials -

Investigating the charge carrier dynamics of novel materials, such as 2D materials, III-V semiconductor nanowires and topological insulators, and accurately extract the electrical conductivity and photoconductivity of a material in a non-contact, non-invasive fashion.

(2) Development of nano-devices and active compoments in the terahertz range -

Utilising knowledge gained from studies of semiconductor nanostructures to develop new terahertz devices, such as photodetectors, emitters and modulators, to enable ultrafast wireless communication in the terahertz range. 

If you are interested in postgraduate study or a postdoctoral research position in these research areas, please contact me. At present, there is 1 funded PhD studentship available. More details on PhD projects, postdoctoral positions and routes to funding can be found below. 

Summer placements/academic research visits

If you are interested in the group research, want to get a feel for the group, or have a research collaboration idea, please do contact me. I am always open to discussing potential opportunites to conduct a research stay in the group.

Postgraduate degrees (PhD)

Typical PhD projects include:

  • Optical-pump terahertz-probe spectroscopy of doped III-V nanowires
  • Ultrafast terahertz spectroscopy of 2D materials and topological insulators
  • Development of novel terahertz microscopy techniques

If you are interested in finding more about the current PhD projects and funded studentships on offer, please get in touch!

You can find information about undertaking postgraduate research within the Photon Science Institute and the school on their websites, as well as information on available funding routes. If you are interested in undertaking research projects within this group, please do not hestitate to get in touch to discuss options.

Postdoctoral Research positions

No postdoctoral positions are currently available. If you are interested in joining the group for a postdoctoral research position, funding is available through established fellowships (including EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowships, Marie Curie individual fellowships, Royal Society Fellowships and others); please feel free to contact me to discuss your research plans and funding options.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, Terahertz Spectroscopy of Semiconductor Nanowires for Device Applications, Oxford University

1 Oct 20131 Feb 2017

Award Date: 8 Mar 2017

Master of Physics, A Study of the Response of Localised 'Designer' Spoof Surface Plasmons, University of Exeter

28 Sept 200931 Jul 2013

Award Date: 30 Jul 2013

External positions

Academic Visitor, Oxford University

1 Oct 2017 → …

Areas of expertise

  • QC Physics
  • terahertz
  • spectroscopy
  • nanomaterials
  • 2D materials
  • Topological Insulators
  • microscopy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Advanced materials
  • Energy
  • Photon Science Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or
  • Carrier Generation and Collection in Zn3p2/Inp Heterojunction Solar Cells

    Paul, R., Tabernig, S. W., Sapera, J. R., Hurni, J., Tiede, A., Liu, X., Damry, D. A., Conti, V., Zamani, M., Steinvall, S. E., Dimitrievska, M., Alarcon-Lladó, E., Piazza, V., Boland, J., Haug, F-J., Polman, A. & Fontcuberta i Morral, A., 2023, SSRN.

    Research output: Other contributionpeer-review

  • The 2023 Terahertz Science and Technology Roadmap

    Leitenstorfer, A., Moskalenko, A. S., Kampfrath, T., Kono, J., Castro-Camus, E., Peng, K., Qureshi, N., Turchinovich, D., Tanaka, K., Markelz, A., Havenith, M., Hough, C., Joyce, H., Padilla, W., Zhou, B., Kim, K-Y., Zhang, X-C., Jepsen, P. U., Dhillon, S., MIRIAM, SERENA. VITIELLO., & 33 othersLinfield, E. H., Hoffmann, M., Lewis, R., Tonouchi, M., Klarskov, P., Seifert, T., Gerasimenko, Y., Mihailovic, D. D., Huber, R., Boland, J., Mitrofanov, O., Dean, P., Ellison, B., Huggard, P., Rea, S., Walker, C., Leisawitz, D., Gao, J. R., Li, C., Chen, Q., Valusis, G., Wallace, V. P., He, Y., Shang, X., Hesler, J., Ridler, N., Renaud, C., Kallfass, I., Nagatsuma, T., Zeitler, A., Arnone, D., Johnston, M. B. & Cunningham, J., 1 Jun 2023, In: Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. 56, 22, 223001.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
  • Near-field nanoscopy of excitons and ultrafast interlayer dynamics in van der Waals crystals

    Mooshammer, F., Plankl, M., Junior, P. E. F., Chae, S., Siday, T., Zizlsperger, M., Sandner, F., Schiegl, F., Zhang, S., Shao, Y., Sternbach, A., Rizzo, D. J., Maier, S., Huber, M. A., Gmitra, M., Fabian, J., Boland, J. L., Zhu, X., Schuck, P. J., Hone, J., & 3 othersCocker, T. L., Basov, D. N. & Huber, R., 5 Mar 2022.

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

  • Showcasing the optical properties of monocrystalline zinc phosphide thin films as an earth-abundant photovoltaic absorber

    Stutz, E. Z., Zamani, M., Damry, D., Buswell, L., Paul, R., Steinvall, S. E., Leran, J-B., Boland, J., Dimitrievska, M. & Fontcuberta i Morral, A., 24 Jan 2022, In: Materials Advances. 3, 2, p. 1295-1303 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
  • THz characterization of GeSn monocrystalline thin films

    Liu, X., Giunto, A., Hutchinson, J. D., Humblot, N., Damry, D., Milot, R. L., Morral, A. F. I. & Boland, J., 28 Aug 2022, 2022 47th International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter and Terahertz Waves (IRMMW-THz).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review