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Development of our Research Groups

History of Astrophysics

Stoner's initial and notable contribution to Astrophysics in deriving a maximum mass for degenerate stars helped to establish the ground work for the AP group; however, Stoner's focus on magnetism suppressed any advancement for him personally. With two appointments in 1952, J.G Wilson and E.W.Kellerman established new areas of investigation. These included:

Neutron monitors
Cloud Chambers
Haverah Park project to study cosmic ray air showers

Wilson oversaw the original work at the site (Haverah Park), as collaboration between several British Universities, along with J. Llyod Evans, Reid, Tennant and Watson. Watson continued the project, which later expanded out to Argentina with the help of Knapp.

Hillas, who was a Professor from 1990, worked mainly in computational studies of the development of particle cascades, aimed to deducing the energies and primary particles of cosmic ray showers. Rose joined the project in 1993 along with Knapp and Bradbury. In 1996 Dyson was appointed as a theoretical professor of astronomy, starting a large growth in other astrophysics as the support for cosmic rays slowed.

The group now consists of Hartquist (HoG), Oudmaijer, Hoare, Pittard, Lumsden and VanLoo.

 

History of the Molecular & Nanoscale Physics Group

Batchelder was appointed as head of the Molecular Physics and Instrumentation (MPI) group in 1990, which he founded on his arrival.

The early objectives of the group consisted of:

1. Experimental and theoretical investigation of the structural, electronic and vibrational properties of novel molecular materials.
2. Development of new instrumentation for the purpose of making these investigations
3. Introduction of these techniques into new areas such as biochemistry and medical research
4. Enhancement of the spatial resolution for chemical and structural analysis

The group developed excellent links with scientists and engineers from a wide range of disciplines both within and outside the University. By 1997 the group had five full time faculty members who included, Batchelder, Clarke, Evans, Henderson and Smith.

By 2000 the Group had settled on two major research themes that were often combined within a single project. The self-assembly of organic and biological molecules and the development of new spectroscopic microscopies.

The group has extensive research facilities for optical spectroscopy and surface analysis at this time, several of which had been developed by the group, including Raman microscopy and SNOM; FTIR, UV-Vis and fluorescence spectroscopy.

Christenson joined the group as a new lecturer in 2000, who simultaneously enhanced both the surface science and the instrumentation base of the group.

Following Batchelder's retirement in (???) Evans became head of the group, however Evans subsequently took the Head of School position and passed his group post over to Smith who established the Institute of Molecular Biology with Professor Radford. The group quickly evolved into the Molecular and Nanoscale Physics group with the appointment of Jeuken, Connell and Thomson.

Smith left the department to establish his spin-out company, Avatca, Evans took back Head of Group and Staniland and Dougan were appointed in 2009.

The group now consists of Evans (HoG), Connell, Dougan, Critchley, Christenson, Shim and Adams.

 

History of the Condensed Matter group

The first experimental group with a separate identity was the Solid State Physics group, now known as the Condensed Matter group (CM), which incorporates the research of liquids.

The beginning of the present lineage of experimental CM started with the appointment of Hoare in 1946. He established the low temperature laboratory required to measure the thermodynamic quantities such as specific heat and magnetism that were essential in giving values to the theories being developed by Stoner and his associates, Rhodes and McDougal.

New avenues in experimental studies of metals and alloys were initiated first by Greig and then Dugdale, who both came via the National Research Council of Canada to work on low temperature electron transport (conductivity) in metals and alloys. Morgan, a young theoretical physicist was appointed to the group and helped evolve the study of amorphous alloys, bridging the structure of materials between solids and liquids. This research helped Leeds to gain a reputation for forming alloys by novel techniques.

In 1965 the group was led by Dugdale followed by Greig and Howson. The group is now led by Hickey.

 

History of the Soft Matter Physics Group

History of the Theoretical Physics Group

The Theoretical Physics group, which was initially a Quantum Information Science Group, was established in 2005, when Vlatko Vedral became a Professor at the University of Leeds. The group grew rapidly and covered several areas of Quantum Information Science, ranging from the foundations of quantum physics to more applied aspect of quantum computing. While in Leeds, Vlatko wrote several books, including Decoding Reality. In 2009, he moved to Oxford. Prof Tim Spiller succeeded him as the Head of Group from 2009 to 2014.

In 2006, Ben Varcoe became a Professor in Leeds, thereby adding activities in experimental quantum physics to the group. Initially focusing on the realisation of quantum information processing with a micromaser, Ben’s group is now designs, for example, quantum cryptography protocols for satellite communication, develops and tests a new heart scanner and detects leaks in oil pipelines.

Due to an increase of popularity of Quantum Information Science within the UK, several academics left the group in Leeds in 2014. For example, Tim Spiller moved to the University of York, where he is now the Director of the York Centre for Quantum Technologies. Subsequently, the name of the Group changed to Theoretical Physics Group, thereby accounting for the relatively wide range of activities of its remaining and several new group members.

The academics in the Theoretical Physics group, that is now lead by Almut Beige, are Sarah Harris, Jiannis Pachos, Zlatko Papic, Robert Purdy, and Ben Varcoe. Among us, we share expertise in Condensed Matter Physics, Statistical Physics, Quantum Optics, Quantum Field Theory and Particle Physics. Applications of our work range from Quantum Metrology, Quantum Communication and Quantum Computing to drug design and the design of novel materials, like topological insulators. We collaborate with scientists all over the world and are involved in several national and international research collaborations.