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Queen’s student awarded Seagate Technology Bursary

Queen’s physics student, Thomas Fyfe, who is from Ballymena, has been awarded the Seagate Technology Bursary.

This Bursary, which launched last year, is awarded to one student studying a MSci Physics at Queen’s with a value of over £7,000 over three years. In addition to the annual payments and book supplements offered by the scholarships, there is also the opportunity for real-life research and development experience through three paid summer internships with significantly enhanced career prospects after graduation.

Thomas is currently in his second year at Queen’s University studying for a Master’s degree in Physics and he has a particular interest in the field of Nanotechnology. 

On receiving this bursary, Thomas said: “The Seagate bursary is a fantastic opportunity for me to work for a global leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of Hard Disc Drives. During my summer placements of 2014 and 2015 I hope to gain invaluable practical experience working as part of a team at the cutting edge of Hard Drive Technology. For me, the Seagate bursary will provide an excellent foundation for my future career as a Physicist.”

Professor Francis Keenan, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s emphasised the important partnership between academics and industry: “Queen’s University is committed to improving the employability of our graduates and the School of Mathematics and Physics are very grateful to Seagate for this bursary. Our links with Seagate are very important to us, and this award provides an opportunity for our undergraduates to work with one of the leading companies located in Northern Ireland.  I wish to congratulate Thomas on receiving this award.” 

Damien Gallagher, Executive Director of Engineering from Seagate who presented Thomas with the award, affirmed his support for the scheme: “Seagate is delighted to continue our collaboration with the Physics Dept. at Queen’s. The future success of our industry-leading Springtown facility is dependent upon the supply of high calibre science and engineering graduates. I am sure that the 2014 recipient, Thomas Fyfe, will enjoy his association with Seagate and will develop skills to complement his studies at Queen's.” Thomas will continue to study for his Masters in Physics with his first summer internship starting this June at Seagate.



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SET for Britain poster competition at the Houses of Parliament

Two young researchers from Queen's have been selected to showcase their work at the Houses of Parliament as part of SET (science engineering and technology) for Britain 2014.

Dr Andrew Brown is a newly appointed lecturer in theoretical physics and Matt Nicholl is a second year PhD student in astrophysics.  Both are from the School of Mathematics and Physics and were chosen from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament at the competition in March.

SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons which is judged by professional and academic experts.  The annual event gives MPs an opportunity to engage with a wide range of the country's best young researchers.

Dr Brown's research concerns the theory of ultrafast electron dynamics in laser atom interactions, and his poster 'Watching electrons move- 
ultrafast dynamics in multielectron atoms' draws on his doctoral research at QUB.  Mr Nicholl's poster discusses his recent paper in Nature on the nature of the brightest supernovae in the Universe. Both posters have been entered into the Physics section of the competition.

This years success for Andrew and Matt follow on the back of another two Queen's researchers who were selected for the competition last year.  Dr Gianluca Sarri, also from the School of Mathematics and Physics, and Roberto Caporali, an industrial research student in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, both participated in last year’s competition.



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New Editor in Chief of Plasma Sources Science and Technology


Professor Bill Graham (CPP) is the new Editor in Chief of Plasma Sources Science and Technology


Institute of Physics Publishing has appointed Bill Graham, from the Centre of Plasma Physics at QUB, as Editor in Chief of the premier low temperature plasma physics journal, Plasma Sources Science and Technology.


He will be responsible for ensuring that the work published in the journal is of the highest standard and reflects the interest of those working at the forefront of international research in the subject.

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Hamilton Prize 2013

On Wednesday October 16th 2013, the Royal Irish Academy again presented awards to students of Mathematics in nine of the Higher Education Institutions in Ireland.  Each mathematics department were invited to nominate its "best" student in the penultimate year of undergraduate mathematical studies.  The recipients of the Hamilton Award in Mathematics received a scroll and a cheque for €250 generously sponsored by Arup. Fergus Monaghan, Director in Arup speaking at the prize giving ceremony said “Arup is delighted to support the RIA and the Hamilton lecture series.  We recognise that graduates are key to our future, in particular in the fields of Science and Mathematics.  Arup is happy to recognise and support this year’s award winners’.
Amongst the winners was Queens University student Victoria Coome.
This event formed part of Hamilton Day activities at the RIA which celebrate Hamilton’s life and contribution to mathematics and usually take place on or around October 16th, the anniversary of the day Hamilton scratched his fundamental formula for quaternion multiplication on Broome Bridge in Dublin.


Hamilton Prize 2013

                 Caption: L-R Mr Fergus Monaghan, Arup; Sir Roger Penrose;
                               Ms Victoria Coome, QUB; Professor Luke Drury, RIA


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New PRL featured in APS Physics Viewpoint and APS Editors’ Suggestions

A paper reporting the first experimental demonstration of entanglement distribution without the use of any entanglement has been published in Phys. Rev. Lett. by CTAMOP visiting student Miss Margherita Zuppardo, and CTAMOP member Dr Mauro Paternostro. The paper, which is the result of aninternational collaboration involving the University of Queensland (Australia), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and the Quantum Technology group at Queen's 

[] is the long-awaited experimental proof of a counter-intuitive feature of general quantum correlations in multipartite quantum sustems.  It hopens up the way to quantum communication schemes that, contrary to naive expectiations, do not require fragile entangement to establish reliable quantum channels.

A. Fedrizzi et al. Phys. Rev. lett. 111, 230504 (2013)  The article has been selected by the Editors of Phys.Rev. Lett. as a prestigious “Editors’ Suggestion” and featured for an authoritative'Physics Viewpoint' authored by Prof. Christine Silberhorn (University of Paderborn).Remarkably, this is the second Letter in a row from the Quantum Technology group to be selected as an Editors' suggestion!



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Maths Competition 2013

First place team: Methodist College Belfast. In photograph from left to right: Dr Gleb Gribakin, David Hopkins, Niall Devlin, Chris Cox, Jackson Riley and Dr G Murphy

Over 100 A-level Mathematics students from schools throughout Northern Ireland took part in the fifth annual Mathematics competition on 6 December in the Great Hall.  Teams representing 26 schools battled their way through several rounds of tough questions set by Dr Stanislav Shkarin and other mathematicians from the School of Mathematics and Physics.  The final scores were extremely close, with Methodist College, Belfast winning first place just ahead of Belfast Royal Academy and Dalriada, Ballymoney. Prizes for first, second and third place from QUB together with an additional prize for the winning team, sponsored by Newry software company First Derivatives Plc, were presented by Dr Gleb Gribakin, Associate Director of Educationfor Applied Mathematics, Theoretical Physics and Statistics and Operational Research.

Dr Gribakin said, "It is great to see so many students here today.  They represent the next generation of mathematicians in Northern Ireland and we hope that events like this will further strengthen their love of mathematics.  The location for the event adds additional inspiration this year as the portraits of Sir Joseph Larmor and Sir David Bates, two eminent mathematicians and scientists, overlooked the students throughout the competition."

The organiser of the competition, Dr Daniel Dundas from the School of Mathematics and Physics, said “The ability of students taking part in the competition always impresses us.  Even though we made the questions more difficult this year the teams rose to the challenge and performed really well: the students and their teachers should be really proud of themselves.”

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Queen's astronomer in 'starring' role in BBC's Horizon programme

A leading Queen’s University Belfast astronomer is featuring in the BBC’s Horizon programme this weekend, in an episode devoted to a very special comet currently in the sky above Northern Ireland.

In Comet of the Century: A Horizon Special on BBC 2 at 9.15pm tomorrow night (Saturday 23rd November), Professor Alan Fitzsimmons will be explaining why comet ISON is so important to science, and how it might appear to sky watchers in early December.

Professor Fitzsimmons, said: “Comet ISON was discovered last year, and astronomers quickly realised that it was a one-of-a-kind comet. It has never been around the Sun before, but on November 28th it will pass just over a million km above its surface. The intense heat may reveal aspects about comets we have never before discovered.”

More ...

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Queen's Maths students take part in Maths in the City

Sophie Halliday (left) and Brendan Reid (second right), 4th year maths students at Queen's University Belfast, were at hand to help Bubbiz the Maths Clown at Maths in the City at Belfast's Victoria Square, the grand finale of MathsWeek Ireland 2013. Also pictured is Eoin Gill (right) MathsWeek Ireland co-ordinator from Calmat at Waterford Institute of Technology

Matthew (7) and Molly (3) Doubleday from Glengormley enjoyed the fun at maths in the City at Belfast's Victoria Square, the grand finale of MathsWeek Ireland 2013. They are pictured with Eszter Surgenor and Emmet Ó Garmaile, 2nd year maths students at Queen's University Belfast.


Five maths students from Queen's (Laura Boyle, Sophia Halliday, Emmet Ó Garmaile, Brendan Reid and Eszter Surgenor) took part in Maths in the City at Belfast Victoria Square in Saturday 19 October, the grande finale of MathsWeek Ireland 2013.  Shoppers were entertained by maths magic, card tricks, mazes and music performed by international maths magicians, buskers and clowns led by a team of experts from MathsWeek Ireland.  The students had a great time helping the public to complete the puzzles and mazes and explaining the properties of tetrahedra using balloon modelling!


Over 170,000 people took part in MathsWeek Ireland (12-20 October), the annual festival which encourages everyone to take a fresh look at maths.  Throughout the week primary and secondary school pupils, along with the general public, took part in activities designed to stimulate their interest and build their confidence in maths.


Dr Dan Dundas, from the School of Maths and Physics, said, "It's great to see mathematics being showcased away from the classroom and in such a fun and accessible way.  Hopefully these activities, together with the enthusiasm shown by our students, will inspire the next generation of mathematicians, scientists and engineers".

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Queen's scientists shed new light on star death
Credit: ESO/L.Calçada
Credit: ESO/L.Calçada

Astronomers at Queen’s University have shed new light on the rarest and brightest exploding stars ever discovered in the universe.

The research is published on Thursday (17 October) in Nature Magazine – one of the world’s most prestigious science publications. It proposes that the most luminous supernovae – exploding stars – are powered by small and incredibly dense neutron stars, with gigantic magnetic fields that spin hundreds of times a second.

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Von Engel & Franklin Prize to Professor Bill Graham

Bill Graham presenting his von Engel and Franklin Prize Lecture on 'Thoughts on the Future of Low Temperatures Plasmas" at the XXXI ICPIG in Granada, Spain, 2013


The von Engel & Franlkin Prize is awarded biennially by the International Scientific Committee of the International Conference on the Physics of Ionised Gases to an individual for work in the field of physics and technology of plasmas and ionized gases, recognising either long standing and important contributions to the field, or an outstanding achievement giving a new impulse to the field.

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Researchers to investigate the mysteries of quantum thermodynamics

Researchers in the School of Mathematics and Physics have been awarded a grant to investigate the mysteries of quantum thermodynamics.

The Quantum Technology Group at Queen’s (QTeQ) has received a £350k grant from the John Templeton Foundation to investigate the reformulation of quantum mechanics at medium-to-large scales.  The Foundation is a philanthropic organisation that funds interdisciplinary scientific research on "Big Questions".

The Principal Investigator is Dr Mauro Paternostro, Reader at the Centre for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (CTAMOP) and EPSRC Fellow with Dr Gabriele De Chiara and Dr Alessandro Ferraro, both Lecturers in Quantum Information at CTAMOP, co-investigators of the grant.

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Mentor of the Year Award

Laura Boyle, the lead mathematics mentor, won the Mentor of the Year award in the QUBSU Education Awards ceremony on 25 April 2013.  Congratulations to Laura on this fantastic achievement.  Mentoring is one of the most important activities within the School and her efforts (and those of her colleagues) have been absolutely first rate.  Within the School we greatly value and appreciate her work and it is extremely pleasing that this has now been recognised at University level.

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Young researchers take their science to Parliament

Dr Gianluca Sarri from the School of Mathematics and Physics took part in SET in Britain 2013 in the Houses of Parliament

Two young researchers from Queen’s have showcased their work at the Houses of Parliament as part of SET for Britain 2013.

Dr Gianluca Sarri, 29, a newly appointed lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Physics and Roberto Caporali, an industrial research student in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, were chosen from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.

SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons which is judged by professional and academic experts. The annual competition gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. 

Dr Sarri’s research about the recent progress on ultra-intensity lasers technology and applications was entered into the Physics section of the competition.

Speaking about the experience, Dr Sarri said: “SET for Britain is a unique opportunity to make my own research known to a wider audience, and to engage with politicians regarding the fundamental issue of scientific research and development in the UK. It is also a great chance to get a wider perspective on cutting edge research by sharing thoughts with other brilliant scientists and engineers from the whole country.”

Roberto’s research was featured in the Engineering section of the competition. Roberto, a PhD student in the Centre for the Theory and Application of Catalysis, is working with Johnson and Matthey, a world leading chemical company, to develop a new type of diesel oxidation catalyst.

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Northern Ireland Maths Students Divide and Conquer

On Friday 7 December over 100 A-level Mathematics students from schools throughout Northern Ireland took part in the fourth annual Schools Mathematics competition organised by Queen’s University Belfast.  Teams representing nearly 30 schools battled their way through several rounds of tough questions set by mathematicians from the School of Mathematics and Physics.  The final scores were extremely close, with St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon winning first place just ahead of Belfast High School in second and Methodist College Belfast in third.  Queen’s University donated prizes for first, second and third place teams and there was an additional prize for the winning team, sponsored by Newry software company First Derivatives Plc.

The prizes were presented by Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry. Congratulating the students on their achievements, the minister said: “It is refreshing to be here today to witness so many young people enjoying the challenges set by the mathematicians at Queen’s University.  The pupils have shown tremendous ability during the various rounds of the competition.

"Maths and STEM subjects have a fundamental role to play in many sectors of the economy.  My Department works closely with employers in engineering, manufacturing, financial services and ICT, to name but a few, who repeatedly tell us how central mathematics is to their business.  Sectors such as these will be key to the future growth of the Northern Ireland economy.  They have the potential to provide quality career opportunities and so it is vital that our young people equip themselves with the right skills now, to be able to take advantage of these opportunities in the future.”

The organiser of the competition, Dr Daniel Dundas from the School of Mathematics and Physics, said, “The ability of students taking part in the competition every year always impresses us. This is a real credit to the students and their schools but it means it’s more of a challenge to set the questions!”

Elizabeth O’Hanlon from First Derivatives said, “It is incredible to see so many enthusiastic and passionate students embracing the QUB mathematics challenge. First Derivatives Plc are very proud to support this fantastic competition as it is students like these which we consider to be the driving force behind the growth of Northern Ireland’s Financial services.”

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NCU-Delta (Taiwan) Young Astronomer Lectureship Award

This award recognize scholars under the age of 45 who have made outstanding contributions in the field of astronomy or astrophysics.  

The National Central University (NCU) and Delta Electronics Foundation are pleased to establish the NCU-Delta Young Astronomer Lectureship Award to recognize scholars under the age of 45 who have made outstanding contributions in the field of astronomy or astrophysics. The award is made through an academic visit to Taiwan to foster interactions with the local astronomer community and to stimulate young minds by public lectures.

The prize, bestowed by Dr. Bruce Cheng, President of Delta Electronics, carries a round-trip airfare to Taiwan, an honorarium, and a commemorative plaque. Each awardee is expected to spend at least two weeks in Taiwan, giving a colloquium at NCU and a public lecture in a high school designated by the Delta Foundation. Candidates are suggested by the Nomination Committee without regard to sex, race, or nationality, and the finalists are chosen by the Review Committee. Subject to sponsorship funding, it is expected that 2-3 candidates will be awarded annually.

The autumn 2012 recepient of this award is Professor Stephen Smartt, Astrophysics Research Centre.



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Queenʼs Quantum Physicist wins Business Leadership Award

David Sandford of the QteQ (quantum technology group) in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's has won a Business Leader of Tomorrow award from the Technology and Strategy Board.


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The sun has got its spots on - will this bring a bright outlook?

An astrophysicist at Queen’s University Belfast has been reading the pattern of sunspots and solar cycles, writes Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, Irish Times.

We could be in for some improved winter weather over the coming years, according to Dr Ryan Milligan. He’s a 36-year-old Queen’s University astrophysicist who was formerly based at Nasa – and who, in his spare time, does road haulage work, just to keep his hand in.

More ....

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IOP awards in London recognise Galway and Belfast physicists

Professor Colin O’Dowd from NUI Galway and Professor Colin Latimer from Queen’s University Belfast have both been presented with prizes at the Institute of Physics (IOP) annual awards in London.  At the awards ceremony last Wednesday, Professor Latimer received the Phillips award in recognition of his service to the IOP.  He has been professor of physics at Queen’s since 1997, while he has also taught at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and at Tokyo Metropolitan University in Japan.  His research interests are in the areas of atomic and molecular processes and interactions.  Professor Latimer has served in many roles with the IOP, including acting as treasurer of the institute and chair of the Atomic and Molecular Interaction group and the Institute of Physics in Ireland (1980-89).

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ANSIN reaches major milestone


ANSIN reaches major milestone

Cathy Hill, a PhD student working with Seagate Technology planning her next set of experiments to develop advanced magnetic shielding for magnetic recording heads. The materials are created by layering different materials each only a few billionths of a metre thick. Cathy's work is now being evaluated in Seagate.

A conclave hosted by Queen’s and Seagate Technology has been described as a major milestone for ANSIN, the £7.5 million international research hub.

Two years on from the establishment of ANSIN at Queen’s, the University and Seagate jointly hosted Seagate Technology’s European Data Storage Technology Conclave for the first time. The research meeting brought together over 100 participants, including the research team at ANSIN, senior management and staff from Seagate Technology, academics from leading UK, European, Japanese and US laboratories and key vendors supporting Seagate Technology in their R&D and manufacturing operation at Springtown.

more ....

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Royal Irish Academy honours for leading Queen's scholars

Four of Queen’s academic staff have been admitted as new Members of the Royal Irish Academy. Professors Liam Kennedy, Aaron Maule, John McGarvey and Stephen Smartt were among only 22 academics on the island of Ireland to achieve this highest academic distinction.

For 227 years, membership of the Royal Irish Academy has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland and a public recognition of academic achievement.
Members of the Academy include: Seamus Heaney, Frances Ruane (ESRI), Mary Robinson, Patrick Cunningham (ESOF Dublin 2012), Maurice Manning (NUI Chancellor), Patrick Honohan (Central Bank), Mary Canning (HEA) and writer and cartographer Tim Robinson.

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Published in Nature: Pan-STARRS discovers star shredded by supermassive black hole

Astronomers from Queen’s University Belfast have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close. The Queen’s astronomers are part of the Pan-STARRS international team, whose discovery has been published in the journal Nature today (Wed, 2 May).

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New directions for EPSRC research leaders
Dr Mauro Paternostro has been awarded a grant under the "New directions for EPSRC research leaders" initiative by the UK EPSRC.  The award is to enable EPSRC’s leading researchers to explore new avenues of research with a view to further enhancing their future career opportunities.  The grant secured by Dr Paternostro, which is worth 200k GBP and the extension of his Career Acceleration Fellowship until March 2014, will allow the Quantum Technology group at Queen's (, working on quantum information science, to appoint a postdoctoral research fellow and a research assistant and will provide the group with travel and equipment money.  The award is further evidence of the excellence of the research at Queen's performed in the field of quantum information processing and quantum many-body physics and reaffirms the leadership of Dr Paternostro in these areas.

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CTAMOP member Laura Mazzola awarded prestigious Marie Curie fellowship

Dr Laura Mazzola was awarded a prestigious two-year Marie-Curie Intra-European fellowship from the European Union, starting from April 2011, to work in collaboration with Dr Mauro Paternostro on "quantum thermodynamics".

Recently the quantum information community has started investigating fundamental  questions on the ultimate size and efficiency of thermal engines at the level of few atoms.  Do quantum correlations, for example entanglement, play a fundamental role in the thermodynamics of quantum mesoscopic systems? Laura will tackle these and other exciting questions during her fellowship at QUB.

Laura joined QUB in 2011.  She was awarded her PhD from the University of Turku in 2010, after working on open quantum systems with Dr Sabrina Maniscalco and Dr Jyrki Piilo.

For further information visit the QTeQ website.

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MultiHy consortium met in Belfast 16-18 April 2012

Delegates at the MultiHy meeting which passed off well

Press Release issued on 16 April 2012

A consortium of eleven industrial and academic partners has been established to develop modern computer simulation methods. The aim is to render new high strength steels and nickel alloys resistant to failure due to hydrogen damage.  These alloys are intended for application in light weight motor car bodies, satellite-carrying rockets and modern powerplant equipment, especially off shore wind turbines.  The remit of the consortium, funded with 5.3m euro through the EU‚Äôs 7th Framework Programme and partner contributions, is to address three industry led case studies.

One is the optimisation of the pulse-plating process used in the fabrication of the nickel combustion chambers of the Ariane 5 satellite launcher; another is preventing hydrogen embrittlement in advanced high strength steels designed for future automobile chassis components and the third is minimising rolling contact fatigue in next-generation wind turbine bearings.

The automotive industry is still missing current EU targets in carbon dioxide emissions by up to 35 gram per kilometre.  While modern steels have been designed that can meet this requirement through reduction inweight, steel producers are aware of the increased risks of hydrogen embrittlement which can accompany steels with higher tensile strengths.  A similar problem affects the bearings of offshore wind turbines and again there is an urgent need to come to terms with the issue and present some solutions to industry.

Until now, scientists undertaking the computer modelling of the underlying phenomena have concentrated on a particular "length-scale", somewhere between atomistic and component-level finite element simulations.  "We now want to carry through computer simulations at all length scales from atoms to entire components," says the project coordinator Dr Nicholas Winzer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM.  The influence of microstructure of alloys on their design lifetime can thereby be investigated and new materials developed. The automobile, aerospace and energy industries will directly benefit and in particular in the realm of renewable energy.

During heat treatment, mechanical working, sheet drawing and coating processes, fine cracks appear which render the metal unstable under load.  The guilty party here is atomic hydrogen that moves rapidly within the metal crystal lattice collecting at dislocations and grain boundaries where it wreaks its havoc, resulting in so called "hydrogen embrittlement".  As cracks grow under load to a critical size, so the component fails.

Using multiscale modelling, experts can take into account all the facets of the microstructure in a variety of materials.  "With our modelling we can predict precisely how susceptible an alloy or a component is to hydrogen embrittlement under realistic conditions," says Dr Matous Mrovec the coordinator of the atomistic simulations.  Atomic information such as diffusion barriers, activation energies and trapping sites can now be used directly to predict component lifetimes under particular service conditions. In association with the computer modelling, experimental studies to characterise the engineering materials will be made by the industrial partners.

At Queen's University, the Atomistic Simulation Centre (ASC) in the School of Mathematics and Physics is leading the effort to bridge the length scales between the atomistic and the continuum modelling.  "With the advent of supercomputers, theoretical physics is now able to bring practical solutions directly to Industry," says Professor Anthony Paxton of the ASC.

Recently Queen's University invested 200,000 pounds in the build of a new computer room which houses the ASC's half a million pound investment in supercomputer systems.  The new facility has the benefit of state of the art negative pressure water cooling.  Our supercomputers are being heavily used in our new researches into the simulation of dynamical processes taking place when hydrogen is introduced into steel.

Now the School of Mathematics and Physics is hosting the first annual meeting of the Consortium on 16-18 April and we are pleased to welcome our European Partners to Belfast.

BMW group
Fraunhofer IWM
ASTRIUM, an EADS company
SKF Group
voestalpine Stahl GmbH
Universidad de Salamanca
ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe
The National Physical Laboratory
Swansea University
Norwegian University of Science and Technology


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Mathematics student wins Centenary Gold Medal
Students rewarded for academic excellence


Receiving her Queen’s Centenary Gold Medal from William Crawley and Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie is first year mathematics student Michelle McGlone.  Michelle was the best performing student in the Leaving Certificate and was also awarded a STEM Scholarship

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Queen’s scientist to lead €2.3M hunt for Universe’s first exploding star
Professor Stephen Smartt

A Queen’s University scientist has been chosen to lead an international €2.3million hunt to discover how the first chemical elements were created in the Universe.

Professor Stephen Smartt, Director of the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Maths and Physics will begin a five year research project in April to examine how chemical elements were created in the Universe and try to find the first ever supernovae, or exploding stars, in the Universe.

The grant, awarded by the European Research Council, is regarded as the most prestigious research grant in Europe for funding Science and Social Sciences.

More information.

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PhD student awarded prestigious grant

A PhD student in the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Mathematics and Physics has been awarded a grant for her work which could improve the chances of detecting Earth-like planets in the future.


PhD student awarded prestigious grant


PhD student Heather Cegla has been awarded a prestigious Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma-Xi

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Mathematics problems are no problem for Northern Irish Schools!

Friday 2nd December saw the Annual Mathematics Competition at Queen's University Belfast.  Teams from 28 Schools battled their way through several rounds of tough questions set by mathematicians from the School of Mathematics and Physics.  The organisers Dr Dan Dundas and Dr Stanislav Shkarin said "We were extremely impressed with the knowledge and effort shown by all the students competing."

The final scores were extremely close, with Belfast Royal Academy winning first place just ahead of Methodist College and Royal Belfast Academical Institution.  The competition was sponsored by Citigroup and First Derivatives, who employ many mathematics graduates from Queen's each year.  The winners received their prizes from Anna Lo, MLA for South Belfast.

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CTAMOP Prof Philip G Burke, CBE, FRS, MRIA awarded the 2012 Will Allis Prize

Emeritus Professor Phil Burke, has been recently awarded the prestigious Will Allis prize from the American Physical Society "for pioneering and sustained theoretical development of R-Matrix computational methods for electron-atom and electron-molecule collisions important in modeling ionized gases and plasmas".

Prof Burke obtained his PhD in theoretical nuclear physics at University College London in 1956 and worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory Berkeley and at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment Harwell before being appointed Professor of Mathematical Physics at Queen's University of Belfast in 1967, where he led research in theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physics.

As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society and the European Physical Society.

See this link for more information.

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CTAMOP member Andre Xuereb awarded prestigious Research fellowship

Dr André Xuereb was awarded a prestigious three-year fellowship from the Royal commission for the Exhibition of 1851, starting from November 2011, to work in collaboration with Dr Mauro Paternostro on "nonlinear optomechanics".  The young field of optomechanics studies the interactions between light and the motion of small objects such as nano and microfabricated mechanical structures. This work is intended to find new avenues to enforce and expose the quantum-mechanical nature of these systems and build up quantum-empowered sensors for position and motion that will beat the performance of the best of their classical counterparts.

André joined QUB after working as a post-doctoral researcher at Leibniz University in Hannover.  He was awarded his PhD from the University of Southampton in 2011, after working with Dr Tim Freegarde.

See this link for more information.

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New degrees in Mathematics and Physics for students with an eye on the money!

From 2012 the School will be offering new BSc Degrees in Mathematics with Finance,  and Physics with Financial Mathematics.

BSc/ MSci and PhD graduates in Mathematics and Physics are particularly valued for their modelling and problem-solving abilities, leadership qualities and technical skills (particularly software development).  Globally, the big investment banks all have their quota of physicists and mathematicians, or 'rocket scientists' as they are affectionately known, and the City alone is recruiting at least 100 young PhDs every year.  Increasingly, other institutions - high-street banks, financial regulatory bodies, consultancy firms, building societies and insurance companies - are also employing people with a rigorous training in mathematics and physics.

The financial services industry in Northern Ireland employs over 23,000 people.  Large global employers such as Citi, NYSE Technologies, Allstate Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Fidessa, PWC, Mercer and Polaris and so on, have important technology groups well established here.  There are huge opportunities for Northern Ireland to compete internationally and to harness its resource of top-class mathematical, analytical and computational skills.

The new courses have been designed with input from industry and NI companies such as First Derivatives and aquaQ to ensure that graduates will be highly employable in these areas.

Of course, possessing a Physics or Mathematics degree from a Russell Group University such as Queen's is a valuable asset in its own right.  So many of the individual courses taken by students at Queen's will involve studying general mathematics and physics, from vector fields, complex analysis  and statistics to atomic and nuclear physics.  This will ensure the maximum flexibility for our graduates in the job market.

Professor Ian Williams, Director of Education said "This is a fantastic new opportunity that we are pleased to offer students.  The degrees have been created to be intellectually stimulating for students with an eye on the future, both scientifically and financially".

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Royal Society Research Fellowship awarded at the Astrophysics Research Centre

Dr Justyn R Maund has been awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship for research in the Astrophysics Research Centre.

The prestigious fellowship provides five years of funding for Maund's project to examine how some stars end their lives in explosions called Supernovae.  By studying the stars that will explode as Supernovae and the geometries of these explosions, his project aims to determine the nature of the underlying explosion mechanism of these events and identify the extreme physics involved.  This project will use some of the most advanced astronomical facilities, including the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Prior to coming to QUB, Dr Maund was a post-doctoral scholar at the Dark Cosmology Centre in Copenhagen, University of California Santa Cruz and the University of Texas Austin.

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Queen's hails its Nobel prizewinning partners

Queen’s astrophysicists have been among the first to congratulate two of their global partners on the award of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.  Professor Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University and Professor Adam Reiss of Johns Hopkins University have been honoured for their discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe.

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NYSE Euronext 'C' opportunity for Physics Students

Front row, Matthew Mulhern, 4th year physics student, Tony McManus, Global Head of Enterprise Software, NYSE Technologies, David Kane, 2nd year physics student, and Donald Henderson, Chief Technology Officer, NYSE Technologies, Back row: Tom Field, Physics Lecturer, QUB, Glenn McClements, Research and Development Manager, NYSE Technologies and Ian Williams, Director of Education, Maths and Physics: Inset, Rebecca Allen, 3rd year Physics student


Queen's University Belfast is proud to announce that three of its physics students have been rewarded for their programming skills in the computer language C by NYSE Technologies, who have a  centre of excellence in Belfast.  NYSE Technologies is a division of NYSE Euronext, a leading global operator of financial markets and provider of innovative trading technologies. 

Two students, Rebecca Allen and David Kane, have been awarded scholarships and Matthew Mulhern was awarded a prize for his third year C physics project, which involved quantum mechanical calculations with the Shooting Method.  These awards include opportunities for the students to work in the Research and Development Team at NYSE Technologies, led by Glenn McClements.

"Two common themes to programming in physics and financial trading software are speed and the need to handle large volumes of information efficiently" noted Tom Field, who taught these students C programming in Physics at Queen's.  "We are delighted with the opportunity to work with NYSE Technologies". 

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School flies with Athena Swan Award

The School of Mathematics and Physics has obtained a Bronze Department Athena SWAN award, one of ten UK science, engineering and technology departments to be recognised in the 2011 Athena SWAN Charter awards.  The School's submission was coordinated by Dr Adele Mrshall, who chaired the self-assessment team.

Further details.

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Public Lectures in astronomy start off with a bang!

Over 300 people came to Queen's this summer to hear the first in a series of Public Lectures in Astronomy. Sponsored by Dr. Michael West, their aim is to allow the public and schoolchildren to hear about the latest discoveries by the world-leading scientists that are making them.  In the first lecture Professor Reinhard Genzel from the Max Plank Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics wowed the audience with an explanation of black holes and how he finds them.  He showed how his research had proven the existence of a supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way. More dangerous were the subjects of the talk by Dr. Robert Jedicke from the University of Hawai'i, who finds asteroids that can impact our planet in the future.  Pictures are (from left to right) Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chanecllor and President of Queens' University, Prof. Reinhard Genzel, Dr. Michael West and Dr. Robert Jedicke.

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GCSE students get a taste of University science

50 students from across Northern Ireland took their minds off their impending GCSE exam results last week by attending 3-day Summer Schools in Mathematics and Physics. All planning to do A-Levels in these subjects, they were introduced to subjects ranging from cryptology and working in more than 3-dimensions, through to quantum physics and measuring the expansion of the Universe. "While it is crucial that schoolchildren learn the fundamentals of their subjects at school, we like to encourage them in that process by showing them where it can lead to" said Professor Alan Fitzsimmons. Apart from their scholarly activities, the students also enjoyed team sports, science quizzes and a tour of Queen's.

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The sky's the limit for astronomical lectures at Queen's

This summer sees the first in a new series of lectures at Queen's University where the public can learn the truth behind tales of monstrous black holes and dangerous asteroids, from international scientists who are leading the work.

The Michael West Public Lectures in Astronomy will be held each year to explain some of the latest and most exciting discoveries in the world of astronomy. They are named after Dr Michael West, a graduate of Queen's who is supporting scientific research and public outreach in the University’s Astrophysics Research Centre.

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Research collaborations aim for the stars

Researchers from Queen’s and Vanderbilt University in Nashville are aiming for the stars with a number of new research collaborations.

Visits by Professors Stephen Smartt and Don Pollacco from Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre and Professor Keivan Stassun from Vanderbilt to their partner institutions have initiated several research projects and led to the first joint science papers.

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Theoretical Physics student wins national award

A Queen's PhD student with a 'quest for understanding and passion for physics' has won a national award for his research.

Dermot Green from the Centre for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics in the School of Mathematics and Physics was awarded the Rosse Medal by the Institute of Physics (IoP) in Ireland.

The medal, which is awarded to the winner of the postgraduate student poster competion, commemorates the 34d Earl of Rosse, Sir William Parsons, Irish astronomer and builder of 'Leviathan', the largest 19th century reflecting telescope, in Birr, Co Offaly.

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Queen's scientists train in technology to treat cancer and strengthen security

Scientists at Queen’s University are playing a key role in a new, national centre of excellence to train the next generation of researchers in technology which could improve cancer therapy and strengthen homeland security.?

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Double grant success for CPP

Above left and right: The TARANIS laser is a £2M facility capable of delivering two intense laser pulses to either of two separate experimental areas.

The Centre for Plasma Physics has won two grants from EPSRC in February 2011, worth a total of £2.1M. 

The first of these is a platform grant led by Prof Ciaran Lewis with Profs Marco Borghesi, Dave Riley, Matt Zepf and Drs Brendan Dromey and Michael Geissler as co-investigators.  The grant of £1.4M will underpin high intensity laser-plasma research on the TARANIS laser for 4 years.

The second grant, led by Prof Riley with the same group of colleagues as co-investigators is for £0.7M and is a responsive mode grant to support work on XUV interaction with warm dense matter.

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PAMSOC enjoys stargazing trip to Donegal

20 students from the Physics and Mathematics Society (PAMSOC) enjoyed 2 nights at the Aras Ghleann Cholm Cille Hostel in Donegal.  There they enjoyed fantastic views of Saturn, double stars and star clusters.  Daytime was spent enjoying the warmth of our nearest star with a mixture of frisbee, rounders, archery and swimming.

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Scientists' 'space mission' to unlock secrets of the Universe

Scientists at Queen's have won almost £2 million in grants for a range of world-leading projects to unlock the secrets of the Universe.

The astronomers - who are all based in the University's Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC) - have been awarded £1.8 million from the Science and Technolog Facilities Council (STFC).


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Queen's Astronomers Awarded for Planet Discoveries

Prof Don Pollacco accepting the award

The Royal Astronomical Society has awarded Prof Don Pollacco (Astrophysics Research Centre)  and the SuperWASP team the 2010 Group Achievement Award for Astronomy.  The team has so far announced the discovery of 26 planets orbiting other stars, and continues to search for more.  The SuperWASP team is a collaboration between Queen's and 7 other academic institutes  to search for these distant worlds, and operate clusters of cameras in the Canary Islands and South Africa.  The award was accepted by Don Pollacco on behalf of the team at the 2010 National Astronomy Meeting in Glasgow.

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Queen's scientists focus on revealing hidden mysteries of the universe

Secrets of the Universe are to be revealed as a new telescope equipped with the world’s most powerful digital camera begins its observations of the night sky.

The Pan-STARRS sky survey telescope – known as PS1 – will enable scientists to better understand the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, the material that is thought to account for much of the mass of the universe but has never been proven to exist. Astronomers from Queen's University Belfast and the Universities of Durham and Edinburgh, together with researchers from around the world, are using the telescope to scan the skies from dusk to dawn each night.

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EPSRC Fellowship awarded at the Life-Science Interface

Dr Chris Calvert has been awarded an EPSRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for Research at the Physics/Life-Science interface.

In a three year research project entitled 'Next generation techniques for analysis of biomolecular systems', Chris will be investigating the application of femtosecond laser technology to studies of biomolecular structure and dynamics.

The research will be carried out using ion-storage devices and ultrafast light sources in the Centre for Plasma Physics (QUB) and at laboratories in Dublin City University and Aarhus University.

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FP7 Grant in Astrochemical Surface Science Awarded

FP7 Award for QUB Scientists

Prof Tom Millar (Astrophysics Research Centre), Dr Tom Field and Professor Bob McCullough (Centre for Plasma Physics) were recently awarded over 400k euros from the EU as part of an international collaboration to create an International Training Network under the FP7 programme.  The ITN, called LASSIE (Laboratory Astrochemical Surface Science in Europe), has been awarded some 6.1m euros to address issues of relevance to the chemical evolution of the Universe.


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Meredith Grieve's Presentation

Queen's Student wins Hamilton Prize

Queen's undergraduate, Meredith Grieve, has won the 2009 Hamilton Prize as the best Mathematics student in her penultimate year at Queen's. 

The Hamilton Prizes are awarded each year by the Royal Irish Academy to recognise exceptional achievement in the field of Mathematics.  The award is made each year on 16th October, the day on which Hamilton in 1843 discovered the correct formula to turn the quaternions into a division algebra. 

Meredith received her certificate and the prize of 1000 euro at the annual Hamilton Lecture in Dublin.

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