Fionán graduated with a BSc in physics from University College Dublin in 2014, before continuing on to complete a MSc degree in NanoBio Science.
In 2015 he then joined the UCC Materials Chemistry and Analysis Group as a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Justin Holmes.
Fionán’s research consists of the investigation of nanowires composed of “phase change” materials. These are materials which exhibit a reversible structural change from crystalline to amorphous under local heating, such as when an electrical pulse is applied. Some examples of such materials include germanium telluride and antimony telluride, and nanowires composed of these materials can be synthesized from chemical vapour deposition methods. The different crystal states of these materials possess different resistive values, and this property lends itself to utilization in non-volatile memory devices. Optimum characteristics for such devices would be high switching speeds between the resistive states and lower input energy required to perform said switching, whilst still being stable under normal ambient conditions. Room exists to improve on these materials and their synthesis methods.