Queer and Quantum Magnetism
Keeley-Rutherford Junior Research Fellow
Please explain your research in simple words
I use neutron and x-ray beams to investigate the behaviour of atoms in materials. By getting a detailed look at how the atoms are arranged in a crystal, and learning about the interactions between the atoms, we can understand why a material has the properties that it does, and eventually use this knowledge to design materials which will have any property we need for a specific purpose.
I think I will tweet about my journey from school to academia, with the trials and tribulations that i have encountered. I will tweet a bit about the science of crystals, and magnetism. On the thursday of that week I will be attending the Frontiers in Condensed Matter Physics conference, and then on friday I will be attending the LGBT STEMinar, so I can quite probably tweet about both conferences and this will highlight quite a big difference between the two events i suspect.
What can the followers expect in your curation week?
How did you end up in your current research field?
Serendipity largely. I did an undergraduate in nanotechnology but was incredibly fascinated by crystals and crystallography. I was offered a summer research project with my electromagnetism lecturer, which then led into a masters project on neutron scattering, followed by a phd in x-ray measurements of rare earth intermetallics
As a condensed matter physicist, I am arguably a materials scientist with a rather fundamental bent. I do a lot of research on functional properties of materials like magnetism and superconductivity.
How and where does your research fall in the domain of materials/nano science?
Which research project are you most proud of and could you explain it in simple words in the section we call #InOtherwords?
I published the most complete measurements of the magnetic properties in Yttrium Iron Garnet, a material which has had widespread industrial uses for many years, and is now the basis for a new (emerging) technology for transmitting information and computation. We showed that some important symmetry information had been missed previously, and confirmed some computer-based predictions showing long range magnetic interactions were very important to the magnetic properties. We were able to produce a model which can be used for very accurate simulations of the magnetism which will hopefully be useful to people engineering devices in the future.
I teach condensed matter physics, and thermodynamics / statistical physics
If you teach, which are the courses would you like to mention?
If you had 3 wishes to improve your research experience, what would you ask for (not promising anything here!)?
- More funding
- Permanent job
- Someone who reliably grew samples for me!
Im really looking forward to the LGBT STEMinar, its a great conference that is the highlight of my annual professional calendar. Im also hoping to publish some work which follows up my publication on yttrium iron garnet.
What are you most looking forward to in the next 3 months?
Which challenges/questions is the nano/materials science field facing at the moment?
In my little corner of it, the major challenges are finding newer, more efficient materials to replace standard devices in the face of climate change, the increasing use of powered devices, and the massive expansion in computing needs. As a result, we need better means to produce energy, to distribute it, to store it, and more efficient ways of using it - especially when it comes to the energy consumption of computers.