News Item

Final Year Project Poster Prizes

Three final year students have been awarded prizes for the posters that they created about their final year research projects. All single-honours degree students undertake a project in their final year. For integrated Masters (MPhys and MSci) students this is full time for their final semester, and for BSc students it is normally half of their time in the final semester. Joint degree students typically have a choice of doing a project in either of their schools. For projects in physics and astronomy most students work on their topic within one of the School's research teams.

The posters were on show earlier in the semester, and a judging panel looked for the best poster in each of astrophysics, physics, and theoretical physics categories. One of those judges comments "It was great to see the "buzz" around the event, with so many members of the School attending and talking about the work. The poster session was a great opportunity to see the diversity of project work carried out by our students, and some excellent examples of how to communicate quite complex results effectively and clearly.”

At a ceremony last week our Head of School Prof Graham Turnbull presented the winners with their prizes. Winners Tatiana Pavlidou, Liam Walker, and Amy Sheader are pictured above with some of their project supervisors, project organisers, and the Head of School.

Tatiana was the winner for the best astrophysics poster. Professor Ian Bonnell (pictured) nd Dr Duncan Forgan were her project supervisor. The project looked at filamentary structure in molecular clouds and star formation. The huge molecular clouds in the Universe are ubiquitously found to have filamentary structures with star formation likely to occur in the dense cores at the intersection of these filaments. The characteristics of these filaments however and the way they form are still under discussion. Tatiana says "I aimed to find a way of identifying filamentary structures in Molecular Clouds in a way that will provide an insight to the motion of the gas as well. The investigation made use of a subset of the data from a galactic disc simulation (Bonnell et al 2013), for a well-resolved molecular cloud using Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) - a Lagrangian numerical simulation technique. Following the Tensor Classification method proposed by Forgan et al, 2016, a further modification was added in order to make the identification of filaments sharper. Seeking for a way to understand the flow of particles in filaments, the dot products between the eigenvectors and the velocity vectors of the filamentary particles were calculated yielding two important correlations, one for each tensor. The dot products were then used as a further criterion in classifying filaments. The resulting classifications of particles for the dataset used become sharper and tend to favor the argument that velocity fields, and hence turbulence, govern these structures, leaving however room for further applications on more data."

The prize for the theoretical physics poster was won by Liam Walker, who is pictured above wtih the researchers that he worked closely with, Dr Graham Bruce and Steven Thomson. Liam was investigating theoretically whether the latest tools in ultracold atomic physics can be used to probe the role of disorder in solid state materials. Until recently, it has been impossible to directly measure the effects of disorder and experiments have relied upon ambiguous bulk thermodynamic measurements to determine the effect of impurities. Liam showed that by using a quantum gas microscope to image the occupations of individual sites in a system of cold atoms trapped in an optical lattice, it is possible to extract local properties of the disordered phase and to measure a so-called Edwards-Anderson order parameter which uniquely identifies the disordered state. This form of order parameter has never before been accessible to experiments. Liam's discovery that quantum gas microscopes can measure it paves the way towards a new tool to probe the effects of disorder in strongly correlated quantum materials.

Amy Sheader worked with Dr Peter Wahl and Dr Jean-Philippe Reid. Amy tells us that "My Masters project work was on measuring thermopower in the delafossite PdCoO2. This material has some really interesting properties- it’s incredibly conductive, and its resistivity profile is constant below 15K, unlike what would be expected in say a typical metal. By measuring thermoelectricity- the voltage induced by applying a thermal gradient along a material- in PdCoO2, we have gained insight into the way electron-phonon interactions contribute to the electrical transport, and how their influence makes this material so remarkable."

First posted BDS 25.5.16