Quantum to Cosmological

This series features academics at the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. Coming from all over the world to work in Brighton, each of the academics plays an important role in advancing our understanding of the world, in passing on their skills and experience to the next generation and in underpinning economic and social progress.

Mark Hindmarsh - Professor of Theoretical Physics and Director of Outreach
Computational power
Dr Jose L. Verdu - Senior lecturer in experimental atomic Physics and head of the Geonium Chip research group
Geonium chip
Seb Oliver – Professor of Astrophysics
Evolution of galaxies
Dr Kathy Romer - Reader In Astrophysics
Dark energy – expanding universe demonstration
Winfried Hensinger – Professor of Quantum Technologies
Ion trap chip assembly
Dr Clark Griffith - lecturer in Experimental Particle Physics
Magnetometer
Prof Antonella De Santo - Head of the Experimental Particle Physics
Imagined Neutralino particle
Dr Simon Peeters - reader in experimental particle physics
Photomultiplier tube
Dr Alessia Pasquazi and Dr Marco Peccianti - Physics and Astronomy
Gold reflectors
Dr Istvan Kiss - Reader In Mathematics
Complex network connections
Dr Omar Lakkis - Senior Lecturer Mathematics and Computational Mathematics
Flood risk
Professor Xavier Calmet – Professor of Physics
Time

Mark Hindmarsh - Professor of Theoretical Physics and Director of Outreach

Professor Hindmarsh's fascination with space began during the 1970's power cuts, when the night sky was less affected by light pollution. His research aims to find out what happened in the Big Bang, in the first picoseconds (one millionth of one millionth of a second) of the universe. "I’m calculating the gravitational waves left behind by the Higgs field as it turned on, 10 picoseconds or so after the beginning of the universe. We have discovered that this could have been a very noisy process - rather like lots of fireworks going off - and the energy in the sound waves was sufficient to shake space itself, making gravitational waves. It’s very exciting that the reality of gravitational waves has been confirmed recently with the detection of the signal from a pair of colliding black holes by the LIGO experiment. Right now we’re working out whether the European Space Agency’s planned space-based gravitational wave mission eLISA would be able to detect the waves from the Higgs field turning on in the very early Universe. The full impact of work like this is many decades away, but it’s already inspiring and motivating future students and capturing the public imagination."

Computational power

Dr Jose L. Verdu - Senior lecturer in experimental atomic Physics and head of the Geonium Chip research group

With his invention of the Geonium chip, Dr Verdu has simplified the conventional Penning trap, making it possible to offer similar capabilities using a small chip instead of a room-size device. "My goal is not simply to do better things than already exist, but to make possible things that were until now unthinkable. The Geonium chip might have a very big impact in mass spectrometry, dramatically reducing the cost and size of the most accurate mass spectrometers. These devices are widely used in chemistry, biology, security and other sectors. Furthermore, the Geonium chip has a very significant potential impact as a quantum technology, concretely as a single microwave photon detector. This could revolutionise radar technology and also microwave spectroscopy. Having good students has been critical to my research and providing this level of education is of critical importance for a modern society, which needs very highly qualified and skilled people."

Geonium chip

Seb Oliver – Professor of Astrophysics

An advocate for interdisciplinary research, Professor Oliver overseas the research strategy for the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in his role as Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange. His own work is focused on understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies through the history of the Universe. He specialises in detecting hidden star formation using telescopes sensitive to far infrared light. “My main research project is the Herschel Extragalactic Legacy Project (HELP). In this project we combine information from many telescopes around the world and in space to provide a rich new data set characterising the physical properties of hundreds of thousands of distant galaxies. With my research team we have a lot of experience in data analysis and modelling techniques and have applied these techniques to challenges in health such as: Cystic Fibrosis patient record linkage and cleaning, MRI image analysis and dementia onset prediction.”

Evolution of galaxies

Dr Kathy Romer - Reader In Astrophysics

As a Reader in Astrophysics at Sussex, Dr Romer’s role involves teaching, student project supervision and research. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Athena SWAN initiative, established to encourage and recognise the advancement of women in science, and a coordinator of one of the main science working groups for the international Dark Energy Survey. Frequently speaking at schools and science festivals, Dr Romer is at the forefront of the University of Sussex outreach programme, inspiring future generations. “I don't often feel "proud", it’s not really my thing. But even I can't stop myself feeling that emotion on graduation day when I see one of my PhD students collect their certificate. And I think my proudest moment was when I collected my own PhD certificate.”

Dark energy – expanding universe demonstration

Winfried Hensinger – Professor of Quantum Technologies

Professor Hensinger heads the Ion Quantum Technology group, which is in the process of constructing a quantum computer. He is also the co-director of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies, which focusses on the implementation of next-generation quantum technologies. "The end goal for my research is to build a large scale quantum computer that can solve certain problems in a few milliseconds where even the fastest supercomputer would take millions of years to do it. Such a quantum computer would likely revolutionize the way we live, in the way that the introduction of conventional computers has transformed society. As a young kid I wanted to become Science Officer on the Enterprise, I realized very early the closest match would be to study physics. I have been lucky enough that I knew from an early age what I wanted to do. I also like to share my fascination with what I do. I believe this is one of the most fascinating areas of research out there, and a quantum computer may help us to uncover the fabric of reality itself."

Ion trap chip assembly

Dr Clark Griffith - lecturer in Experimental Particle Physics

Along with his teaching duties, Dr Griffith is performing experiments to try to measure what is called an electric dipole moment of the neutron (nEDM). "Specifically at Sussex, we are working on advancing the sensitivity of nEDM measurements by researching ways of measuring magnetic fields more precisely. The biggest impact would arise from actually measuring a non-zero nEDM, which would be a Nobel prize worthy result, with far reaching implications across physics research. On the practical side, nEDM research has previously led to the field of NMR (from which MRI imaging was developed) and atomic clocks. It is extremely important to carry out fundamental research towards our general expansion of knowledge. We do not know today what practical advance might arise from some obscure aspect of researchers attacking a variety of entirely fundamental research based problems."

Magnetometer

Prof Antonella De Santo - Head of the Experimental Particle Physics

"ATLAS is a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. It is used to investigate the fundamental laws of physics at very short distances through the study of head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy. In the data we collect, we investigate the basic forces that shape our Universe and search for evidence of new physics phenomena that may become manifest for the first time at LHC energies. My own research focuses on the search for supersymmetry. Supersymmetry is a very appealing "beyond-the-Standard-Model (BSM)" theory, which extends the Standard Model of particle physics. The Standard Model is currently the best description we have of elementary particles and their interactions, but it is known to be incomplete. Supersymmetry also has the very appealing feature to predict the existence of a particle, the neutralino, which would be a good candidate for dark matter in our universe. I like to make a difference. I am a physicist but I live in our society. My children live in it, my friends do. So, if we change things for the better, even in a small way, we'll do it for the greater good of our society."

Imagined Neutralino particle

Dr Simon Peeters - reader in experimental particle physics

Dr Simon Peeters has had a major involvement in the large underground Sudbury Neutrino Experiment (SNO). The 2015 Nobel Prize was awarded in part for the discovery of neutrino oscillations at SNO. Dr Peeters applies his expertise, and technology that he developed for the detection of neutrinos, to develop innovative fast light sources that will help other researchers and industry, notably in medical applications. “Fundamental research has always created fantastic progress in unimaginable ways, we are trying to understand the universe and its origins better, by understanding its fundamental building blocks.”

Photomultiplier tube

Dr Alessia Pasquazi and Dr Marco Peccianti - Physics and Astronomy

Dr Pasquazi and Dr Peccianti run the Nonlinear Photonics Lab at Sussex developing ultrafast optical technologies. "We explore the emergence of novel optical phenomena that will be the basis of future ultrafast technologies. By molding the light in ways that were inconceivable only a few decades ago, the technologies we are developing will impact the way we sense the natural world, measure time, build our computers and communicate. This is the beginning of a journey."

Gold reflectors

Dr Istvan Kiss - Reader In Mathematics

How do infectious diseases spread? What is the best way to stop them? How can mathematical models help? Dr Kiss’ research is concerned with the mathematical modelling of infectious disease transmission. This involves the formulation and analysis of models ranging from differential equations to the complex simulations. "My research is at the interface between network sciences, dynamical systems and stochastic processes. In particular, I focus on stochastic processes on static and dynamic networks, using mainly epidemic, and more recently, neuronal network models. I work on developing theoretical models that capture complexities arising in real networks, such as heterogeneity in the characteristics, behaviour and interaction of individuals, as well as higher-order network structure.”

Complex network connections

Dr Omar Lakkis - Senior Lecturer Mathematics and Computational Mathematics

Dr Lakkis is currently working on the development of algorithms for flood-risk evaluation and collaborates with a local company in this field, Ambiental. "I realised that what excites us, mathematicians, for a purely intellectual satisfaction could actually be used for practical purposes and ultimately save human lives. Mathematical research works in leaps, I often work in collaboration with other mathematicians, and just talking about a problem and challenging one another makes it brew in our minds. Most of the time we are stuck, but as we look at the problem from different angles we suddenly see “a way”. Many times this turns out to be yet another dead-end, but every now and then you get a breakthrough and the feeling is exhilarating. We seek this state of exhilaration in looking at the next problem in spite of all the frustration that we know is awaiting us."

Flood risk

Professor Xavier Calmet – Professor of Physics

A theoretical physicist, Professor Calmet works to understand how to merge quantum mechanics with general relativity. This is a quest for unification of all the fundamental interactions in nature and to understand the fabric of space and time “I study the effects of such a unification in the early universe and black holes, I’m also interested in dark energy and dark matter, you could say that I work on the dark universe. I have very broad interests, for example, I am also interested in econophysics, or how to use physics methods to solve problems in finance or economics. Theoretical physicists love to solve problems and love challenges, we are happiest when given something that we don't understand and time to think.”

Time

Mark Hindmarsh - Professor of Theoretical Physics and Director of Outreach thumbnail
Computational power thumbnail
Dr Jose L. Verdu - Senior lecturer in experimental atomic Physics and head of the Geonium Chip research group thumbnail
Geonium chip thumbnail
Seb Oliver – Professor of Astrophysics thumbnail
Evolution of galaxies thumbnail
Dr Kathy Romer - Reader In Astrophysics thumbnail
Dark energy – expanding universe demonstration thumbnail
Winfried Hensinger – Professor of Quantum Technologies thumbnail
Ion trap chip assembly thumbnail
Dr Clark Griffith - lecturer in Experimental Particle Physics thumbnail
Magnetometer thumbnail
Prof Antonella De Santo - Head of the Experimental Particle Physics thumbnail
Imagined Neutralino particle thumbnail
Dr Simon Peeters - reader in experimental particle physics thumbnail
Photomultiplier tube thumbnail
Dr Alessia Pasquazi and Dr Marco Peccianti - Physics and Astronomy thumbnail
Gold reflectors thumbnail
Dr Istvan Kiss - Reader In Mathematics thumbnail
Complex network connections thumbnail
Dr Omar Lakkis - Senior Lecturer Mathematics and Computational Mathematics thumbnail
Flood risk thumbnail
Professor Xavier Calmet – Professor of Physics thumbnail
Time thumbnail