I have had twenty five years research experience in the general field of atomic and molecular physics. During the last fifteen years, I have mostly focused on research involving the physics of highly charged ions (HCIs) although more recently I have diversified to develop improved modalities of radiation therapy.
HCIs allow us to access otherwise unavailable physical regimes, looking at the behaviour of simple systems of bound electrons when subject to very high static fields. Their properties are also relevant to a range of applications including fusion, astrophysics, particle based radiation therapy and nano-fabrication. My HCI research takes place collaboratively with colleagues at GSI and at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo; I was awarded a Japanese government funded MEXT visiting professorship as part of the UK-Japan collaboration in 2004. This research primarily uses three unique and complimentary instruments to probe the physics of highly charged ions: The Belfast electron beam ion trap (EBIT), The Tokyo EBIT and the ESR.
Development of improved modalities of radiation therapy involves the idea of using a small amount high atomic number (Z) material preferentially localised within tumours in conjunction with carefully tailored x-ray radiation. The enhanced absorption of the high atomic number material results in increased dose delivery localised at the tumour volume alone. Although still in its early stages, this work was recently highlighted in a joint EPSRC/IoP publication.
I am a member of the international organising committees for the biennial HCI Conference and the triennial Electron Beam Ion Source and Trap Conference. I was co-chair for HCI-2006, hosted in Belfast and was on the editorial board for its proceedings. I was also a member of the local organising committee of the Association for Radiation Research’s 2007 meeting held in Belfast and the ICPEAC meeting we will hold there in 2011. I am also on the Collaboration Board and the UK’s coordinator for the SPARC research collaboration, the world’s largest Atomic + Molecular Physics collaboration. In addition to contributing several review articles on the physics of highly charged ions, particularly on the operation of EBITs, I have edited a comprehensive two volume introduction to this topic, The Physics of Multiply and Highly Charged Ions.