UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Dr Mojtaba Abdi Jalebi

Dr Mojtaba Abdi Jalebi is a Lecturer in Energy and Functional Materials at UCL IMD and Programme Lead for MSc in Advanced Materials Science (Materials Innovation and Enterprise).

Dr Mojtaba Abdi Jalebi

2 January 2023

When did you join UCL and where were you before?

I joined UCL in November 2019 and built my research group with a focus on material and electronic properties of emerging semiconductors for optoelectronic and electrochemical devices for low-cost electronics applications (e.g., solar-photovoltaics, lighting) and energy systems enabling carbon capture and production of solar fuels. 

Prior to his, I was a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Wolfson College, where I performed independent research on development of ultra-low-cost solar cells and LEDs, and in parallel I set up a spin-out company to develop energy harvesting devices based on emerging semiconductors for application in Internet of things (IoT) and consumer electronics.

Tell us about your work at UCL - how do you spend your days, and what makes your role different to similar positions elsewhere?

I have faced a substantial change in my roles/workload as an early career researcher and group leader at UCL compared to my previous positions to work on all aspects of an academic role such as research, teaching, management, leadership, networking and similar, that make it very exciting for me. 

On the research front, I have built my research group on materials discovery towards affordable clean energy and production of sustainable fuels with young and motivated students and post-doctoral researchers. I spend a substantial amount of my time together with my research group and our national/international collaborators to provide novel solutions to solve global challenges on energy and climate change.

Another very interesting part of my role is the close interactions with our talented MSc students through teaching, personal tutoring, seminars, and social events. I also enjoy designing new teaching materials, novel assessment methods and implementing new approaches to bring state-of-the-art research and enterprise aspects into my teaching. I am very impressed by the novelty and quality of the student-led projects who always bring fresh insights to the topics followed by enjoyable discussions.

I have received a lot of support from various parts of UCL, for instance, UCL Arena and UCL Innovation and Enterprise, to gain and enhance the required skills in different aspects of my work.

What are some of your favourite things about working at the Institute for Materials Discovery? How have you found it different to previous jobs?

Having a dynamic platform to perform materials research in my area of interest with a lot of opportunities to collaborate within IMD and different departments/faculty at UCL is one of my favourite aspects of the job. 

Furthermore, I really enjoy discussions with my research group members on various topics including science, football, foods at our monthly social events, as well.

I have also taken various roles at IMD, as the Head of Research and Graduate Tutor, which together with my active involvement in the expansion of the institute to UCL East brought new time management challenges compared to my previous research-focused role. 

I am very excited about our expansion and new MSc programmes at UCL East and in particular the MSc in Materials Innovation and Enterprise that I designed.

All in all, I am very delighted to contribute towards the rapid growth of the IMD to become an active materials hub with national and international reputation.

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Can you tell us about any upcoming research, or future projects that you're looking forward to working on?

I have recently established projects with international collaborators in Japan, Australia, US, India, Italy and France, thanks to the great support from UCL Global Engagement team. 

In short, we are focusing on sustainable development and implementation of new inexpensive materials in energy devices to alter the energy landscape by reducing the cost of energy production, consumption, and storage. 

I am very keen on exploitation of my academic research into actual products and bridging the gap between fundamental science and technology commercialisation. Some of the immediate emerging markets that are most relevant to my research include, but are not limited to, photovoltaics, wireless sensor networks, the Internet of things (IoT) and consumer electronics.

Have you always been based in London? If not, when did you move here, and how did you find adapting to living in London?

I moved to London shortly after joining UCL, in 2020. The move from Cambridge as a quiet small city to London was indeed a big change in lifestyle but we have enjoyed living in such a lively and diverse city so far with a lot more to explore yet!

Finally, tell us about your non-work life. Do you have any hobbies, or favourite places to go in London?

One of my main hobbies is playing various sports from football, volleyball and basketball to (table) tennis and badminton. I also love watching football and following the games in Premier and Champions leagues closely.

My other hobby is playing a traditional Iranian musical instrument so-called Santur (a hammered dulcimer) that I learnt since primary school. My wife plays Daf (a large frame drum), which is another Iranian musical instrument, and sometimes we play and record musical clips together.

Finally, I love travelling and visiting inspiring, natural, and historical attractions around the world.