Breaking ground with nanophysics at UCLan

The scanning probe in a scanning tunneling microscope.  A feedback loop keeps the tip-sample separation constant by monitoring the current in the gap.

The scanning probe in a scanning tunneling microscope. A feedback loop keeps the tip-sample separation constant by monitoring the current in the gap.

Welcome to the experimental nanophysics group at UCLan.  I am the UCLan Guild Fellow in Nanophysics, and am building a comprehensive research capability into several aspects of physics related to the nanoworld.

I gained my BSc in Physics from Liverpool in 2002.  I went straight on to the PhD programme with a research direction into the surfaces

of quasicrystals. My main interests developed from here and in 2009 (after a subsequent postdoc) I joined Argonne National Laboratory to design and build a new low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope which would enable image acquisition under laser excitation.  During this effort I became interested in graphene and in particular in molecular adsorbates and molecular electronics.

First light from the microscope I built for Argonne.  This is the honeycomb arrangement of atoms at the surface of graphite, imaged in ambient conditions.

First light from the microscope I built for Argonne. This is the honeycomb arrangement of atoms at the surface of graphite, imaged in ambient conditions.

I started my own independent research activity in UCLan in April 2013, joining a strong department with existing research programmes in computational physics led by Prof. Andrei Zvelindovsky and magnetic materials led by Dr Tim Mercer, alongside a comprehensive astrophysics program. There are several strands to my research, which has a unifying theme in a desire to improve energy technologies via fundamental and applied approaches:

  • exploring new methods of manufacturing graphene
  • investigating the uses of graphene in solar cell technologies
  • investigating graphene as a substrate for molecular electronics
  • investigating molecules on ideal surfaces to understand their potential as electronic components
  • exploring other kinds of 2-dimensional crystals
STM image of pinwheel

A scanning tunneling microscopy image of a fullerene molecule surrounded by pentacene molecules – an organic p-n junction.

Several of these projects draw on existing collaborations with Liverpool and with Argonne National Laboratory, IL. I’m also expanding my collaboration with the computational group in UCLan, working closely with Andrei Zvelindovsky, Manuela Mura and Marco Pinna here.

I am actively searching for prospective PhD students in any and all of these areas.  If you are interested in pushing the boundaries of fundamental energy science and nanophysics and hold a good degree in Physics or Chemistry (or expect to get one), please get in touch.

Enjoy browsing the site!

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