Mathew McLaren

A small space for everything about me.

I am a researcher specialising in electron microscopy with a love for science and technology. I enjoy gaming, photography and generally tinkering with stuff.


Research Interests

My background is in physics but I have somehow stumbled into researching in biosciences. My main scientific interest is in transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and its applications in both life and materials science. Initially my main focus was characterisation of thin-film cross-sections in the TEM, using both mechanical polishing and focused ion beam as methods for sample preparation. My current position is entirely biosciences-focused and involves a lot of cryoEM-based work through both single particle data collection and tomography. As a result, I'm interested in using the TEM as a tool for characterising a variety of samples and I'm always keen to find a problem to solve using electron microscopy!

University of Exeter

TEM Experimental Officer

I am currently an experimental officer at Exeter University and am in charge of running and maintaining a 120 kV Tecnai Spirit along with a sample preparation lab. I collaborate closely with members of our group in preparing and characterising samples using both negative stain and cryo preparation methods. The projects I work on are interesting and varied and typically involve determining protein structures through cryoEM. The main techniques I use are single particle data collection and tomography.

January 2018 -

Queen's University Belfast

Postdoctoral Researcher

My postdoctoral position primarily involved working on nanostructured gallium nitride (GaN) devices in collaboration with the Tyndall Institute in Cork. Dislocations in GaN affect its semiconductor properties so it is imperative that dislocation density is reduced to produce the best devices. By using devices formed of GaN nanocolumns the dislocation density can be reduced, increasing efficiency. The devices were grown by Tyndall and characterised at QUB to determine device quality.

January 2015 - December 2017

University of Leeds


The work during my PhD focused on characterising iron-rhodium (FeRh) thin films. FeRh exhibits an unusual phase transition between antiferromagnetism and ferromagnetism and has a corresponding structural change across the transition. The phase transition makes FeRh a strong candidate as a novel material in magnetic recording devices. The focus of my work was using TEM to determine the reason for this phase transition and understanding how it can be tuned through doping and applying strain to the thin films.

October 2010 - December 2014


A bit about who I am. When I'm not researching, I'm generally playing games and cooking. I'm not the best chef (unless I'm making a Sunday roast) but I enjoy the process of making a meal and I'm slowly trying to discover new and interesting things to cook, despite being a fussy eater! My gaming is typically PC-based, but I'm also a keen board-gamer as well. My current vice of choice when PC gaming is Dota 2, something that has possibly sucked away more of my life than I'm often prepared to admit. Otherwise, I am a fan of many genres and am particularly excited the resurgence of indie games and their often unique artistic or play styles.

I'm a keen cider drinker (connoisseur sounds a bit classier) and I'm always on the lookout for something I've never tried. I also joined CAMRA (campaign for real ale) to further my quest, possibly becoming the only CAMRA member who doesn't actually like beer! I am fairly meticulous when tracking the ciders I've had and I document every unique cider so I can keep track of what I do and don't like. My descriptions are usually quite vague and rubbish but it's enough for me to know what I'll try again! The list is available here.

A hobby I've dived in and out of over the years is photography. It was something I dabbled in when I was a teenager but I recently picked it up again after several years thanks to a trip to Iceland where I wanted to capture the beautiful sights of the landscape. I have some of my favourite photos accessible on Flickr, 500px and Instagram.


Below are some ways to contact me or to follow my work around the web.

  • Flickr
  • 500px
  • Instagram

  • Google Scholar
  • Mendeley
  • LinkedIn
  • Github