University of Glasgow (2002 – 2010)
MSci Physics, PhD Physics
University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
Favourite thing to do in my job: Using very powerful electron microscopes to see individual atoms!
I study exciting new materials which will probably be in your future smart phone’s memory
Due to enormous websites such as YouTube and Facebook, the amount of data generated in the world is doubling every year. How will manufacturers meet demands to store increasing amounts of data generated in the future?
Currently, you can hold trillions of bytes of data in the palm of your hand, however at some point the limit in miniaturisation will be reached as the size of an individual atom is approached.
Rather than going smaller, one solution is to instead increase the material’s ability. The answer may lie in something called ‘spintronics’, which uses another property of the electron, known as its spin, in addition to its charge as in conventional electronic devices.
A certain group of materials, known as the transition metal oxides, may solve this problem. However we don’t fully understand them yet at the atomic level. Since extremely thin layers of material are needed in devices, very slight imperfections can dramatically change the material’s properties. My job is to use very powerful electron microscopes, to directly see the atoms of the material and try to understand the materials better.
My Typical Day
My typical day can involve making tiny samples to look at in the electron microscope, looking at various materials using the electron microscope, analysing images, responding to emails, undergraduate teaching and writing papers
What I'd do with the prize money
I would develop an activity to take into local schools to emphasize that science can be really fun!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Happy, motivated and creative
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Presented my work at Westminster and won a £1000 prize
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No more than the average person
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I’ve always thought it would be interesting to be a vet, so maybe that.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Travelled in a seaplane from Vancouver to Victoria
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To have permanent research funding, to visit New York and to have a puppy!
Tell us a joke.
Where does bad light end up? In a prism!