Prof. Gerard O’Connor is a Personal Professor in Physics (since 2019) and Head of the School of Physics (since 2017) at National University Ireland Galway. He is a director of the NCLA Laser Laboratory (since 2011) and is a funded investigator with SFI centres I-Form, CÚRAM and IPIC in advanced manufacturing, medical devices and photonics, respectively. Prof. O’Connor was an SFI Industry Research Fellow at M-Solv UK Ltd (2015 to 2017). He has participated in several European collaborative projects as coordinator or partner including AtlanticKETmed (2017-2021), RESPICESME (2015-2017), ASPICE (2011-2014) and LaserConnect (2010-2014). He has graduated 14 PhD students and 10 Research Masters since his academic appointment in 2005. Prof. O’Connor has over 100 publications and he is an inventor on three patent families. He has collaborated with over 100 Irish companies and has earned in excess of €14m R&D funding since his appointment to NUI Galway in 1995. Prof. O'Connor served as an external examiner for the laser engineering programmes at the University of Liverpool (2007-2011). He was a Strategic Advisor to the EPSRC Centre for Integrated Manufacturing Laser beam processing in United Kingdom (2017-2018). He was recently appointed an advisor to Manutech-SLEIGHT Graduate School on Surfaces, Light Engineering, Health & Society at the Université de Lyon (2020-2024).
Research Interests (Lay Summary)
Prof. O’Connor’s research is centred on understanding short pulse laser material interactions. He is focused on advancing the precision and efficiency of laser technologies for reconfigurable scalable manufacturing. His approach to attain higher precision is focussed on controlling the delivery of laser energy on timescales shorter than the timescale over which materials can respond. He optimises the use of laser energy by delivering the energy required to execute the material transformation targeted by the process. The clean delivery of laser energy and the minimisation of the excess energy result in new transformative processes, such as ultrashort laser induced crystallisation, mechanically inspired laser cutting and selective pattering of thin materials for reconfigurable scalable manufacturing. Under the I-Form initiative he is seeking to develop a new pilot manufacturing platform centred on laser enabled printed electronics and printed bio materials.