You are here

Dr Clara Barker

I am a thin film material scientist, mostly interested in the manufacturing of various technical think film layers.

In addition to my research, which I summarise below, I am a vocal advocate for outreach and inclusion in STEM. I am a proud and out member of the LGBTI+ community and work with many organisations aiming to increase equity in research.

I take part in various outreach events. I have shared my research in events such as OutThinkers (with a video to follow) and Pint of Science and talked about superconductivity for an Oxford Sparks Podcast, as well as answering a few questions for Oxford Physics in as part of their Marie Curious series. I have also written various posts such as a blog on materials science for the IOP’s 100th Anniversary and a short piece on one of my role models, Sally Ride, for the Royal Society. I also talk about being a trans/LGBTI+ scientist in in person, as a Stonewall School Role Model, a Stonewall Trans Role model, as part of SeeMe with Siemens and also in a blog for the Huffington Post.

I strongly believe that actively working to improve inclusion in STEM is vital for Universities and industry. I have written about this for the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry. I have also talked about this at length on video, including a TedXLondon Women talk and as part of the Gamechangers event at the Alan Turing Institute, as well as various podcasts. I have been profiled by Oxford University and by local independent filmmaker, Lottie Stevenson. I have also been briefly profiled in ‘in print’ by the Royal Society and there is even an upcoming e-book from Pride in STEM, so watch this space. I have also been invited to talk at various events and Universities around the country, and even spoke internationally at I, Scientist 2019 in Berlin and gave the keynote talk at the Diversity in Academia conference, run by the Queer Cyprus Association in Northern Cyprus in 2019.

For my outreach, and my local volunteer work, I have received a number of awards. I have won a Points of Light Award from the UK Prime Minister, the Oxford University MPLS Equality and Diversity Award and the Oxford University VCs Equality and Diversity Champion.

In addition, I am a Royal Society Diversity Committee member, a member of TIGERS and the Dean for Equality and Diversity, as well as an adjunct fellow, at Linacre College, Oxford. I am also the chair of Oxford Universities LGBT+ Advisory Group, as well as a Stonewall Role Model at the University. In my spare time, I also run a youth group for young LGBTI+ people in Oxfordshire, play D&D and, when I can, climb.


My first degree was in electronic and electrical engineering, before moving to industry working for a company that made roll-to-roll vacuum deposition equipment for the food manufacturing industry. These machines were mostly metalizers, depositing thin layers of aluminium on polymeric web substrates, although they could be used reactively with oxygen to for AlOx layers. During this time I also worked significantly on an large PE-CVD barrier deposition tool making SiOx layers. Whilst I started with the company on the electronics side, I soon became interested in the material deposition processes.

From here I took a PhD making transparent conductive oxides, TCOs, by magnetron sputtering.. We used an emerging technique, high power impulse magnetron sputtering, HiPIMS, to deposit these materials – a high power, high target ionisation, low duty cycle technique. During this time I specifically worked with AZO but the technique had interesting applications. So I spent a lot of time investigating titanium (to get used to the properties of the technique) and then using it to make titania films for photocatalytic applications.

During my studies, I was an active member of the EU COST Action MP0804, through which I carried out various short term scientific missions, STSM, including working at Fraunhofer IST, Germany on a short project. I also worked with ASTRaL, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland for a month using atomic layer deposition, comparing AZO films made using this technique with those I made using HiPIMS. I continued this work after my PhD, as a visiting researcher.

I then took on various post-doc positions at Empa in Switzerland, continuing my work with HiPIMS. During this time, I looked at further altering the pulses of HiPIMS, coining the term c-HiPIMS. During this project I continued to make various titanium films, for use as a coating on medical implants. I also worked with hardness materials, making silicon nitride, and carbon-silicon nitrides. I also continued to be an active part of COST MP0804, including a STSM where I worked with Professor Helmersson and Professor Sarakinos at Linköping University, Sweden.

I am now the manager for the CfAS lab in the Materials department of Oxford University.