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Department of Physics & Astronomy
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT
TEL: +44 (0)20 7679 7144 / FAX: +44 (0)20 7679 7145

The CMMP group offers one of the most exciting environments in the UK for graduate studies in condensed matter physics. Research within the group spans a wide spectrum of subjects including quantum computing, organic electronics, superconductivity, the physics of the Earth's deep interior, biomagnetism, nanoscale imaging, etc. Currently the group comprises 90 members, including 26 academic staff and over 50 Ph.D. students, making it one of the largest condensed matter groups in the UK.

The group is located in the LCN and Physics buildings on the Bloomsbury campus. The LCN building is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for the design, fabrication and analysis of nanoscale systems. In additional the group plays a leading role in the development and exploitation of x-ray and neutron scattering instruments at central facilities both national and international.

The CMMP group has both theoretical and experimental components and is closely associated to the Thomas Young Centre for Theory and Simulation of Materials. For more information visit TYC@UCL.



Resolving the structure of a single biological molecule - Researchers have determined the structure of DNA from measurements on a single molecule, and found that this structure is not as regular as one might think, as they report in the journal Small. Building on previous work in Dr Bart Hoogenboom’s research group at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, and in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, first author Alice Pyne has applied “soft-touch” atomic force microscopy to large, irregularly arranged and individual DNA molecules. In this form of microscopy, a miniature probe is used to feel the surface of the molecules one by one, rather than seeing them. Read more on the Physics website here.

A hiding place for the Earth's missing xenon - A collaboration between researchers in Jilin, China and University College London, including Professor Chris Pickard of CMMP, has identified a possible resting place for the Earth’s elusive store of noble xenon. The study was piblished in Nature and you can read more on the Physics website.

Shock-absorbing 'goo' discovered in bone - New findings show that much of the mineral from which bone is made consists of ‘goo’ trapped between tiny crystals, lubricating and allowing movement. It is this flexibility that stops bones from shattering. The UCL/ Cambridge team (including CMMP's Prof Chris Pickard) used a combination of NMR spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, imaging and computational modelling to reveal the citrate layers in bone. They say that this is the start of what needs to be an entire shift in focus for studying the cause of brittle bone diseases like osteoporosis, and bone pathologies in general.  The study was published in PNAS and you can read more on the Physics website

A Potential Way to make Graphene Superconducting - Scientists from the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCL and the London Centre for Nanotechnology, including CMMP's Prof Chris Pickard & Dr Chris Howard, have discovered a potential way to make graphene – a single layer of carbon atoms with great promise for future electronics – superconducting. The study, performed in collaboration with Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is published in Nature Communications. Read more on the Physics website here.

New CDT in Delivering Quantum Technologies announced - Funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Delivering Quantum Technologies at UCL was announced on Thursday 9 January by the Minister for Universities and Science, the Rt Hon. David Willetts. The new CDT’s Director, Professor Andrew Fisher, said: “UCL’s research base in quantum technologies is excellent and extremely broad.  We are delighted to have the chance to use those facilities and that expertise to give students the best possible research training across the range of disciplines they will need in their future careers.” The CDT will take on its first students in September 2014. Read more on the Physics website here.

Dr Jochen Blumberger & Marian Breuer have had their paper "Electron flow in multiheme bacterial cytochromes is a balancing act between heme electronic interaction and redox potentials" published in PNAS.
Certain bacteria use complex assemblies of multiheme proteins to shuttle electrons from the inside of the cell over distances exceeding 100 Å to extracellular substrates. Recently, the first crystal structure of a representative deca-heme protein was solved, but the mechanism of electron conduction remains difficult to probe experimentally. Here we provide detailed molecular-level insight into the kinetics and thermodynamics of charge conduction in this biological wire using high-performance computational tools. Our study reveals an evolutionary design principle of significance to an entire class of heme proteins involved in mediating electron flow between bacterial cells and their environment, a phenomenon both bearing great geochemical importance and opening up a multitude of potential biotechnological applications."
PNNL also published a press release.

Electrical control of single atom magnets article published by Nature Nanotechnology
The energy needed to change the magnetic orientation of a single atom – which determines its magnetic stability and therefore its usefulness in a variety of future device applications – can be modified by varying the atom’s electrical coupling to nearby metals. This striking result was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology by an international group of scientists including Dr Cyrus Hirjibehedin - read more on the LCN website here.

Professor Chris Pickard & colleagues have their recent article in PRL highlighted by Chemistry World
Chemistry World have highlighted a recent paper in Physical Review Letters by Professor Pickard & colleagues on "Stable All-Nitrogen Metallic Salt at Terapascal Pressures", whci is currently on their front page.

Dr Navaratnarajah Kuganathan & Dr Peter Sushko have had their paper "Activation and splitting of carbon dioxide on the surface of an inorganic electride material" published in Nature Communications.

Professor Thanh Nguyen's article in Nanoscale highlighted by the Royal Society of Chemistry
RCS Publishing's Nanoscale blog has this week highlighted Tracking stem cells in tissue-engineered organs using magnetic nanoparticles as one of the week's hot articles.

Daiwa Adrian Prize 2013 awarded to UCL/ Tokyo research team
Professor Alexander Shluger and Dr Peter Sushko have been awarded one of the 2013 Daiwa Adrian Prizes, which recognise significant scientific collaboration between Japanese and British research teams. The UCL team was awarded the prize jointly with researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology for a longstanding collaboration in materials science.
The prizes, awarded every three years, acknowledge those that have combined excellence in scientific achievement with a long-term contribution to UK-Japan relations. UCL’s close relations with Japan date back to the 1860s, when it was the first European university to admit Japanese students.
The winning research teams will receive £10,000 and a prize giving ceremony will be held at the Royal Society in London on 27 November 2013. [Read more here]





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