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Sonja has always been fascinated by all things shiny and colourful. Her journey through five universities and research institutes spanning five countries has led her to the University of Cambridge in 2020, where she now dedicates her work as a PhD student towards "environmentally friendly fancy colours".

The German-French chemistry programme Regio Chimica allowed Sonja to study chemistry at both the University of Upper Alsace in Mulhouse and the University of Freiburg and graduate with a double degree (B.Sc./Licence) in 2016. Research-wise, she focused on macromolecular chemistry and materials science, working on synthesising monomers for organic solar cells, optimising fibre-reinforced composites for the automotive industry and producing bio-based polymers from waste during her bachelor thesis, internships in both industry (Evonik Creavis GmbH, Germany, 2015) and academia (Institute of Materials Science Seville, Spain, 2016), respectively.

For her Master's degree in chemistry, Sonja moved to the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, where her research interest turned towards tuning the optical properties of materials and molecules. Most notably, she worked on near-infrared absorbing squaraine dyes for optical upconversion devices in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa). Parallel to her studies, she worked as a synthetic chemist at the company Rainbow Photonics AG, synthesising different organic dyes for non-linear optical applications.

For her PhD project in the Bio-Inspired Photonics Laboratory, Sonja moved away from dyes whose colours are based on the selective absorption and reflection of visible light and now focuses on structural colours that arise upon interference and reflection of visible light on nanostructures. Using cellulose as the building block, she works on a new fabrication method for producing beautifully coloured films.

Outside of research, Sonja enjoys exerting her brain learning new languages (currently Korean) and her body with table tennis or bouldering.



Shortwave infrared-absorbing squaraine dyes for all-organic optical upconversion devices
K Strassel, W-H Hu, S Osbild, D Padula, D Rentsch, S Yakunin, Y Shynkarenko, M Kovalenko, F Nüesch, R Hany, M Bauer
– Science and Technology of Advanced Materials
Bio-Based Coatings for Food Metal Packaging Inspired in Biopolyester Plant Cutin
JJ Benítez, S Osbild, S Guzman-Puyol, A Heredia, JA Heredia-Guerrero
– Polymers

Graduate student

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01223 334319 (shared)

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