The 2020 Danckwerts-Pergamon Prize for the best thesis has been awarded to Jacob Martin.

The Danckwerts-Pergamon Prize is awarded by University of Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology each year for the best PhD dissertation on a subject connected with Chemical Engineering. The winner is chosen from those students who gained their PhDs in the preceding calendar year.

Jacob was supervised by Prof Markus Kraft and his thesis title was “Investigating the role of curvature on the formation and thermal transformations of soot.”

Jacob’s thesis contributed to two long-standing problems: how does soot form, and what are the molecular structures of charcoal, glassy carbon and activated carbon? Three main findings were presented: a new molecular explanation for the impact of electric fields on soot formation, proposing a new reactive mechanism for soot formation with localised π-radicals and explaining the global curvature as well as the defects that allow layering to occur in disordered carbons (a long-standing problem in carbon materials science).

Jacob was a Cambridge-CARES PhD student from 2016-2019 and spent his first year studying in Cambridge before moving to Singapore to complete his PhD. His thesis was also awarded the Carbon Journal Thesis Prize 2020 in July.

Jacob is now at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Curtin University, Perth, Australia after being awarded a Forrest Fellowship.


Jacob gives a talk on his soot research at the 2019 CREATE Symposium. 


Jacob’s research was supported by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme.

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