Thomas Schefer, mentee in the 2019 Energy & Minerals program at University of Western Australia, WA


Thomas was born in Warrandyte(Vic) but was raised in Switzerland. After graduating Kantonsschule Romanshorn as third best overall, he gained an internship in the marketing department of SIX Financial Information and completed the mandatory basic training of the Swiss Army. He then studied Nanosciences at the University of Basel. During his MSc in Nanosciences, he completed an internship at ABB Switzerland, where he performed computer simulations on electrical partial discharges with the multiphysics software COMSOL.

As part of his MSc, he carried out a research project of six months. This was done at the University of Western Australia in the Spintronics and Magnetization Dynamics group led by Prof. M. Kostylev. After defending this work with highest marks, he started his PhD candidature in said group.

In his PhD project, Thomas is investigating the change in the so-called ferromagnetic resonance of thin ferromagnetic films when exposed to hydrogen gas. The ferromagnetic films consist of a cobalt-palladium alloy, where cobalt effectively is responsible for the ferromagnetic behaviour and palladium for the ability to absorb and react to hydrogen. The change in the ferromagnetic resonance upon exposure to hydrogen is concentration sensitive. These properties combined make for a basic hydrogen gas sensor. The aim of the project is to improve this hydrogen gas sensor principle by finding the best composition of the alloy. The project could lead to a competitive hydrogen sensor, which could help in transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to a hydrogen economy