Hi there, I am Martin Alliati. I’m a PhD student within the EUROPAH Network, based at the University of Liverpool (see picture 2).

My journey so far…

I did my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, my home city. After my degree, I worked in the Oil and Gas industry as a process design engineer for around three years. It wasn’t bad, but all the challenges, the joy and the passion came from somewhere else, namely, my 7 year teaching experience in Thermodynamics and my 2 year research experience in Density Functional Theory, both at my former university. That in itself was sufficient reason to start a PhD and to pursue a career in academia.

I am currently doing a PhD in plasma chemistry, thus studying the interactions of energetic electrons with PAHs. Plasma is the fourth state of matter and is, roughly speaking, an ionised gas. Electrons are knocked off atoms and molecules leading to a whole new dimension in chemistry. Not only reactions between electrons and molecules must be considered, but also the ions, fragments and radicals resulting from them. Hence, the plasma turns any gas into a much more complex mixture.

Picture 1- My experimental rig

My role in the EUROPAH network…

As part of the EUROPAH Network, I am particularly interested in what happens when a PAH is ionised in a plasma and takes part in electron-impact reactions. I tackle this issue both with experiments and theory. The experimental part of my project consist of using mass spectrometry to identify the species formed in a PAH plasma induced by a copper coil around a plasma vacuum chamber (see picture 2 – yes, a plasma emits light as a result of the de-excitation of excited electrons in atoms and molecules, exciting, isn’t it? – Yes, again, you got it right, many lamps you see in your everyday life are plasmas). Besides experiments, from a modelling perspective, I study reaction mechanisms of PAHs and related molecules in a plasma, through plasma kinetic modelling. Overall, being certain that my work contributes to pushing the boundaries of knowledge outweighs everything else, that’s what I enjoy the most.

Living in Liverpool…

As you may have imagined by now, I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina but I currently live in Liverpool, UK. While nothing will be like my beloved BA (friends, family, food, night life, etc), Liverpool is indeed a great city in many ways, among which their music history and the feeling that you could come across Paul McCartney around the corner may be highlighted. It’s also very quiet as soon as you move away from the city centre. Coming from a huge city as BA, I love that and I do enjoy cycling to work everyday, including a leisurely ride through some parks when time allows. Better known as the friendliest city in the UK, Liverpool has a lot to offer and I would recommend it to anyone. I must warn you, though. I’m native in Spanish, proficient in English and I speak un petit peu de Francais. But none of that helped me on this one, people in Liverpool speak Scouse. You’ll get used to it, lad!

Picture 2- The oldest building on campus. Taken from the university of Liverpool website

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