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Tonight, Professor Jensen will discuss the research behind the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics in using advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films. Dr Sapelkin will talk about how quantum dots (tiny nanoscale objects) can help us understand neurone communication. Finally, we have Dr Phillips who will be telling us how crystals and other materials can be used to reveal the structure of drugs, proteins and semi-conductors in order to understand their properties for the advancement of medicine and geology.
Professor Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen (Professor of mathematical physics )
To understand the properties of a macroscopic system we need to look at how the interacting components work together. We will describe situations where the individual building blocks are described by an arrow. From this we obtain macroscopic structures equivalent to vortices. Properties at this level are determined by topological constraints. This research was behind the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Haldane, Kosterlitz and Thouless. Find out how this alters our understanding of very different systems including melting of two dimensional crystals...
Glowing Quantum Dots
Dr Andrei Sapelkin (Senior Lecturer in Condensed Matter & Material Physics)
Quantum dots (QDs) are nanoscale objects consisting of tens to thousands of atoms and measuring around 10-9 m – around 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. As a bulk material is reduced in size its properties change dramatically below certain size.In particular, materials that appear dull (like coal) exhibit colourful glow at specific wavelengths (e.g. red, green, blue) when illuminated. Importantly, the wavelength of this glow depends on particle size. I will explore the weird and wonderful world of QDs and examine how they can help understand neurone communications.
Beyond average: the local structure of functional materials
Dr Anthony Phillips (Lecturer in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics)
Crystallography, the study of how beams of radiation diffract from crystals, is a powerful method to measure the atomic structure of materials. Describing the structure of a semiconductor, drug, or protein is crucial to understanding its properties; thus crystallography has driven forward fields from medicine to geology. But traditional methods, which reveal only the average structure, conceal vital information. I will discuss new materials and describe how understanding deviations from the average structure is the key to harnessing their useful properties.