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Dr Shane Bergin at the Mansion House Dublin for an evening of curious science.

" Dr Shane Bergin (School of Physics) with Dara O’ Briain and Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin at the Mansion House Dublin for an evening of curious science. Other special guests included National Geographic Explorer Tierney Thys, Mars One candidate and TCD Astrophysicist Dr. Joseph Roche, and Neuroscientist Prof. Shane O’Mara. Sarah-Louise Ball (PhD student, School of Physics) also featured as a demonstrator for the occassion "

Shane Bergin

Physicists Reveal Quantum Effects in Biological Oxygen Transport

Physicists have created a unique combination of computer models, based on the theory of quantum mechanics, and applied them to a previously well characterised protein found in muscle to develop a new picture of how biomolecules transport and store oxygen (O2). In doing so, the international team have shown how the process of respiration, which is fundamental in humans and other vertebrates, exploits quantum mechanical effects working on tiny scales.

The physicists’ discovery, building on a number of years of intense collaboration on theory and software development, has solved a long-standing problem at the interface of chemistry and biology. At the same time, they have demonstrated a new way by which quantum mechanics can be used to answer biochemical questions, with implications for inspiring drug-related research and further interdisciplinary collaborations.

Assistant Professor in Physics in the School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin, Dr David O’Regan, said: “This work helps to illustrate the fact that quantum mechanical effects, which may sometimes be viewed as somehow very exotic or only relevant under extreme conditions, are at play in the day-to-day regimes where biology, chemistry and materials science operate.”

See the full article here.


Dr. Shane Bergin on Newstalk

The Science of Sport ; from the design of footballs to tissue engineering, Dr Shane Bergin and Prof Conor Buckley chat to Newstalk about the free AMBER science event which took place on July 8th in Trinity College’s Global Room!”


RESEARCHERS DISCOVER WORLD-FIRST NEW MATERIAL WHICH COULD REVOLUTIONISE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

New ‘MRG’ material could lead to superfast technology and energy efficient data storage 25 years in the making and discovered by researchers at AMBER, Trinity College Dublin

Scientists at AMBER, the materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin have discovered a completely new material, which could revolutionise information technology, computer processes and data storage. The world-first discovery was led by one of Ireland’s most highly-cited researchers Professor Michael Coey, a Principal Investigator at AMBER from Trinity’s School of Physics. The Centre is funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland.

The research group led by Prof. Coey has created a completely new alloy of manganese, ruthenium and gallium, known as MRG. MRG is a strange new magnet; internally it is as magnetic as the strongest magnets available today, yet seen from the outside it barely appears magnetic at all. This world-first material (technically known as a “zero-moment half metal”) will initiate a completely new line of materials research and could open up numerous possibilities for electronics and information technology.

research and could open up numerous possibilities for electronics and information technology. The potential applications of MRG are many. It could lead to limitless data storage, resulting in huge, superfast memory in personal computer devices. It could also eliminate the potential of external magnetic forces to ‘wipe’ computer data. Finally, MRG could have major implications for the Big Data revolution. Commenting on the discovery, Michael Coey said, “Magnetic materials are what make reading and storing data – either on personal devices or on large scale servers in data centres – possible. Magnets are at the heart of every electronic device we use – from computers and laptops to tablets, smartphones and digital cameras. Given its unique insensitivity to magnetic fields, and the tenacity of its internal magnetic properties, MRG could now revolutionise how data is stored, which could have major implications for the future development of electronics, information technology and a host of other applications.”

For 25 years, researchers worldwide have grappled with how to create a magnet such as MRG by trying to arrange numerous combinations of atoms in a way which was difficult without flouting the basic principles of physics. Now, AMBER researchers have solved this problem, by using established industry-standard processes for making the electronic circuits on silicon chips. MRG could therefore be adopted by computer and electronics companies relatively easily.

Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock TD welcomed the announcement and said, “Here is a Government-funded research centre discovering innovative solutions to problems faced by the technology industry. I would like to praise the work of Prof. Coey and his team on this world first which opens up a range of potential applications in the electronics and information technology sectors.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “SFI Research Centres like AMBER, were established with a focus on delivering cutting edge, internationally excellent research, which will deliver real benefit to the economy and to industry. This discovery absolutely fits the bill and I congratulate Professor Coey and his team. Their discovery is a world first which could solve one of the major problems faced by the technology industry worldwide. This is the type of research which Ireland is, and will continue to be recognised for.”


Trinity Physicist Chosen for Thompson Reuters 2014 World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds List

Professor Jonathan Coleman of the School of Physics has been chosen to be included in the ‘Highly Cited Researcher’s list.

Two Trinity College Dublin physicist has been selected to join 3000 authors from around the world in Thompson Reuters’ new compilation of influential names in science. Professor Jonathan Coleman, Professor of Chemical Physics in the School of Physics who is also a PI in CRANN and AMBER will appear in the Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers website and 2014 World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds report which has been recently launched. One other Trinity scientist Professor Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry, is also included. Read more.


Knighthood for Professor John Pethica

John Bernard Pethica FRS FREng, Research Professor in the School of Physics and one of the founding directors of the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) was knighted in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours list 2014 for services to science.

Professor Pethica’s work is in nano-mechanics, thin films, surface physics and microscopy. A particular achievement was the development of the technique of nanoindentation for elastic and plastic deformation analysis of materials, thin films and coatings below the optically visible limit. This was a major breakthrough which had a huge impact on the world of materials science and engineering. From this work he co-founded a company, Nano Instruments, in 1984 to successfully seed the small scale mechanical testing market - a market that continues to grow today. He also played a key role in the development of the atomic force microscope – a research tool in use in many laboratories across the world. As Physical Secretary and Vice-President of the Royal Society, he has raised the profile of applied science and guided its policy work on climate change. Full article available here


Transferring Thin Films onto Arbitrary Substrates

Researchers in AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre headquartered at Trinity College Dublin have developed a general method of transferring thin and ultrathin (< 100 nm) hybrid films onto arbitrary substrates. Applicable substrates include hole structures, curved surfaces, flexible substrates, and so on.

Professor of Materials Physics Werner Blau and Research Fellow Yong Zhang at Trinity’s School of Physics are the lead researchers. The discovery will offer a facile route for production of functional films directly on desired substrates/surfaces. The films have potential applications in transparent and flexible electronic and photonic devices. Flexible electronics and photonics represent the future of consumer electronics, sensors, displays, power generation and lighting. Especially its extension to printed electronics is a revolution, following in line with previous electronics industry innovations. This is a disruptive technology that will create new applications, and change and improve the way we use technology in future.

Link to full text here.

This work was supported by Science Foundation Ireland through SFI Investigator Award with grant no. 12/IA/1306. The publication is available on Nature.com

The Drop Heard Round the World

Shane Bergin, Stefan Hutzler, & Denis Weaire share their thoughts on the Trinity Pitch Drop in an article published in Physics World.

Begun in October 1944, the Pitch Drop experiment, at Trinity College Dublin's School of Physics, is one of the world's oldest continuously running experiments.

This curiosity of an experiment demonstrates that pitch is a material that flows - albeit it with an incredibly high viscosity. Whilst pitch has been dropping from the funnel since 1944, nobody had ever witnessed a drop fall - they happen it happens roughly only once in a decade! In May 2013, with the latest drop about to fall, Prof. Shane Bergin broadcast the experiment via the web. On July 11th 2013, the drop dripped. You can see a time lapse video of this here. Tracking the evolution of the drop, Profs. Weaire & and Hutzler, and Mr. David Whyte calculated the viscosity of the pitch to be 2x107 Pa s - approximately 2 million times the viscosity of honey.

The time-lapse video has attracted considerable global media attention. Discover Magazine named the Trinity Pitch Drop in their top 100 science stories of 2013 & a feature article in Nature News was the 3rd most-read piece on their website in 2013.

Pitch Drop Media Stories

Nature News

The Independent (UK)

Radio Lab

Wall Street Journal

The Register

Circa

Huffington Post

The Slate

Irish Times

RTE News

International Business Times (13 Best Science Videos of 2013)

The Atlantic

Der Spiegel

Discover Magazine

The Australian

Science et Vie

Scientific American

Times of India

NBC Bay Area

National Geographic

Die Zeit

Fox News

NewScientist

Daily Mail

Business Insider

Phys.org

CNET

ScienceNews

The Verge

GizMag

New Scientist (May 2014)

 

School of Physics/AMBER Graphene Innovation is a World First

Researchers in AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre headquartered at Trinity College Dublin have, for the first time, developed a new method of producing industrial quantities of high quality graphene. Described as a wonder material, graphene is a single-atom thick sheet of carbon. It is extremely light and stronger than steel, yet incredibly flexible and extremely electrically conductive.

Professor of Chemical Physics Jonathan Coleman at Trinity's School of Physics is the lead researcher.The discovery will change the way many consumer and industrial products are manufactured. The materials will have a multitude of potential applications including advanced food packaging; high strength plastics; foldable touch screens for mobile phones and laptops; super-protective coatings for wind turbines and ships; faster broadband and batteries with dramatically higher capacity than anything available today. More details here.

This work was first published in the prestigious journal Nature Materials and is available online, here.

Listen to Prof Coleman explain his results on RTÉ radio’s, Morning Ireland programme here (Friday, 25 April 2014) or below.

The story was also the most read story on BBC’s website during the week, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27113732

A selection of coverage:


Dr. Finch's Final Lecturephysoc

On 2nd April 2014 Dr Eric Finch (School of Physics) gave his last undergraduate course lecture. The photograph shows him on this occasion with the Senior Freshman class at the end of their Nuclear Physics course. His university teaching career spanned 45 years; after leaving Oxford he spent three years at Durham University in a post-doctoral position before coming to Trinity in 1972. As well as laboratory and tutorial classes his lecture courses in recent years have included Waves, Light and Sound to Junior Freshman non-physicists and, for physicists, Nuclear Physics to Senior Freshmen and Junior Sophisters and Semiconductor Devices to Senior Sophisters.

In 2007, Eric received a Provost's Teaching Award in recognition for his 'outstanding contribution in the pursuit of teaching excellence'. Armed with demonstrations, anecdotes, a tuning fork, and historical oversight, his lectures proved popular with undergraduate students. Indeed, his 'dancing Doppler' demonstration appeared on YouTube in 2006 with over five thousand views to-date.

The 2013/14 Senior Freshman class (as seen in the photograph) gave Dr. Finch a fitting send off following his last lecture with cards, cakes, a standing ovation and well wishes from them underlining their appreciation for his teaching skills.


School of Physics Commonsphysoc

Commons is Trinity College Dublin's formal evening meal. In recent weeks, more than 200 students from the School of Physics have joined their lecturers for Commons. The photo below shows some of the 2013/14 Senior Freshman class. In keeping with a long-held tradition, Senior Freshman students were invited after Commons to the Lord Edward pub by Profs. Cross and Finch.


Juno supports Physics students representing Trinity at Women in Physics Conference, Belfast and Beata Szydlowska wins poster prize.physoc

Juno supports Physics students representing Trinity at Women in Physics Conference, Belfast and Beata Szydlowska wins poster prize. From left to right: Harriet Walsh, Beata Szydlowska, Katarzyna Siewierska, Prof. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Anne Marie Delaney and Seoid NiLaoire.


Thomas Young - the last man who new everything.physoc

Prof. Eric Finch spoke to the Physoc on the life and work of the polymath Thomas Young (Thursday, March 6th 2014). With topics ranging from the wave-nature of light, the strength of materials, the workings of the human eye, to the tuning of pianos, Young's legacy lays strong claim to the title 'last man who knew everything'.

Prof Finch (wearing the yellow tie in the photograph) mixed scientific achievement with references to Young, the man. With over 60 under- and post-graduate students present, Prof. Finch's lectures remain as popular as ever'


Trinity Physicists Launch Citizen Science Project to Let Everyone See the Sun

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From time-to-time, the Sun throws out huge solar storms in the direction of planet Earth. When these storms hit our planet, they can cause spectacular displays of the Northern Lights, but sometimes the effects can be more serious – knocking out power grids, interrupting GPS and radio communications and damaging satellites.

Now, a team of scientists from Trinity College Dublin and Zooniverse have developed a website that enables members of the public to take part in an exciting and ambitious quest to understand sunspots and how they produce solar storms.

“Even the most advanced computer software is not been able to accurately work out how explosive a particular sunspots is, which is why we need your help”, according to Prof. Peter Gallagher of Trinity. But you’d be right to ask, why can't scientists do the classifications themselves? The answer is that there is just far too much data!

“Sunspotter volunteers will be the ones to thank for putting in the hard work and improving our ability to classify sunspots and predict solar storms” says Trinity’s Dr. Paul Higgins, lead scientist for the project. Sunspotter.org has been developed by Zooniverse, home of the largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects.

The organization grew from the original Galaxy Zoo project and now hosts dozens of projects that allow members of the public – “citizen scientists” – to participate in real research. As of February 2014, the Zooniverse community consisted of more than 1 million volunteers. “The Sunspotter.org website gives members of the public the power to contribute to cutting-edge scientific research and help scientists to better understand explosions on the Sun and how they effect us here on Earth”, according to Dr. Higgins. Why not see sunspots for yourself by visiting Sunspotter.org?

An image of a huge sunspot group many times the size of Earth. Credit: Swedish Solar Telescope (SST) in the Canary Islands. See image here.

Media Contacts:

Prof. Peter T. Gallagher
Associate Professor of Physics
School of Physics
Trinity College Dublin
Ireland
Telephone: +353 87 656 8975
Email: peter.gallagher@tcd.ie

Dr. Paul Higgins
Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Center Palo Alto, California USA
Telephone: +1 510 621 8758
Email: pohuigin@gmail.com

Dr. Robert Simpson
Zooniverse Team Member
Oxford Astrophysics
Denys Wilkinson Building
Keble Road, Oxford,
UK
Telephone: +44 (0)7929 508961
Email: rob@zooniverse.org


Shane Bergin on Newstalk


TCD Physics Postdoctoral Researchers Forum

Trinity College Dublin’s Physics Department has just been awarded Juno Practitioner status by the Institute of Physics in recognition of its best practice for taking action to address gender inequities across its student and staff body.

Juno Chair, Eithne McCabe, commented that the School recognised the vital role that TCD Physics postdoctoral researchers can play in advancing Juno. Gathering data from all seven Irish University Physics departments she showed that TCD Physics employs nearly half of Ireland’s University Physics postdocs. Therefore any changes in the working culture of Physics postdocs will affect a significant percentage of postdocs nationally. Eithne’s qualitative survey data from Physics postdocs illustrated the need for better communication and integration within the School and she identified the initiation of a postdoc forum and its integration into the School structure as one of the key Juno action plans for the School.

Shane Bergin has extensive experience with postdoc issues and chaired a very successful first postdoc forum meeting on January 30. He will be supported in this role by Evie Doherty. The forum will meet again one month from now. Agenda items/issues should be addressed to berginsd@tcd.ie or dohertev@tcd.ie.


CERN campaign launch was a smashing success

MinisterStudents from the physics and maths societies in Trinity College Dublin launched a campaign on Thursday 30th January for Ireland to become a member of CERN. The launch consisted of a series of rapid-fire, Ignite-style talks, given by a diverse range of campaign supporters, including Sean Kelly MEP, Prof. Ronan McNulty of UCD (a CERN collaborator) and an industry representative (Diarmaid Mac Muthuna of Agtel). The campaign hopes to convince people of the many benefits of CERN membership to Ireland - such as the long-term economic gain as well as opportunities in science and engineering for Irish citizens.

The students launched the campaign website (http://irelandforcern.org/ ) with sections for teachers and children to learn more about CERN and also offers some of the main ideas behind the campaign. The campaign team hope to now work with other societies from universities across Ireland to hold outreach events and public talks about CERN. Minister Sean Sherlock responded to the launch saying he will review the benefits of CERN membership. RTE and the Irish Times both covered the launch.

technology.ie Article
Irish Times Article
RTE Article

School of Physics Awarded Juno Practitioner Status

Trinity College Dublin’s Physics Department has been awarded Juno Practitioner status by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for taking action to address gender inequities across its student and staff body. Juno

Seeking to redress the long-standing issue of there being too few women at the highest levels of physics academia in Ireland and the UK, Trinity’s physics department joined Project Juno to demonstrate its commitment and has now been recognised for its best practice.

Professor in Physics at Trinity, Eithne McCabe, said: "Trinity College Dublin School of Physics has made the increased participation of women in physics a key priority and is delighted to be awarded Juno Practitioner status. We recognise how improving the numbers, retention rate, profile and culture for female physicists will impact positively on the Irish economy as a whole and we feel we have an important role to play in this.”

To achieve the new status, Trinity’s School of Physics has demonstrated progression against a range of Juno principles set up to improve the working culture by, for example, introducing more flexible working arrangements, offering provision for childcare, or allowing for a more transparent organisational structure.

Link to full article.

Wome in Physics

 

 

Dart of Physics

DARTofPhysics.

The overarching aim of the project dartofphysics.ie was to start a city-wide conversation on physics and Dubliners responded. 12 simple physics statements were placed in advertisement spaces on Dublin’s DART train over an 8 week period.

You can view photos of the adverts and the full report here

DARTofPhysics was an initiative of Prof. Shane Bergin (School of Physics), Prof. Colette Murphy & Aoibhinn ní Shúilleabháin (both School of Education). Funding came from Science Foundation Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, IQ Content, Intel Ireland, JC Decaux, Metro Herald, Language, & Institute of Physics.

School of Physics solar group in Nature Physics

Research from the School of Physics solar group has been featured on the front page of the leading international journal, Nature Physics. The researchers used a combination of measurements from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and radio data from the Nançay Radioheliograph and the Rosse Observatory in Birr to detail the mechanism that connects coronal mass ejections from the Sun and the acceleration of particles to relativistic speeds.

Article.
News & Views.

Apples and Atoms

Artist

 

A sculpture celebrating the life and work of Ernest T.S. Walton, Nobel Laureate for Physics, and former student and professor in Physics at Trinity College Dublin, was opened to the public by Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, today (November 15th) at a special ceremony at Trinity. The sculpture titled ‘Apples and Atoms’ was designed by artist, Eilís O’Connell, RHA.

Ernest T. S. Walton studied at Trinity where he was a scholar and won many College prizes, including a gold medal in experimental science. He graduated with joint honours in mathematics and physics in 1926 and obtained his master’s degree in 1927 after which he went to Cambridge to do a PhD. It was in Cambridge that the momentous collaboration between Walton and his fellow physicist, John Cockcroft, later began. They exploited linear acceleration methods to induce nuclear disintegration by artificial means, as observed by Ernest Walton, on April 14th, 1932. It was the first time that Einstein’s E=mc2 was verified directly in a nuclear reaction.

His and Cockcroft’s success, using artificially accelerated particles for experimenting on the atom, meant the research into the nature and structure of the atom was no longer restricted by having to rely on natural sources of radiation. In 1934, Walton returned to Trinity College, and was the Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy from 1946 until his retirement in 1974.

Walton

Right:ETS Walton, Trinity physics graduate and former Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Experimental Philosophy (1946-1974) and Ireland’s only Nobel Laureate in Physics (1951).

Walton Family

Left:Four of the children of ETS Walton, Nobel Laureate in Physics 1951 pictured outside the School of Physics beside the sculpture celebrating their father’s life and work (l to r. Dr. Alan Walton, Jean Clarke, Marian Woods, Prof. Philip Walton).

The sculpture by Eilis O’Connell is a stack of mirror polished spheres, increasing in size as they rise upward which appear to defy gravity. It is located beside the Fitzgerald Building, home to the School of Physics. Reflected in the stack of spheres are specially planted native Irish apple trees that refer to the private man and his keen interest for growing fruit trees. “The sculpture pays homage to Walton’s most important characteristics – his intellectual rigour and hands-on ability to physically build the particle accelerator and his nurturing ability as teacher and father. A man is not defined solely by his academic achievements but also by the memories he leaves behind in others,” explained sculptor, Eilís O’Connell.

Ernest T.S. Walton generously presented his papers to the College Library in 1993; his family subsequently donated his Nobel medal. A small exhibition, which includes the medal, is currently on display in the Long Room, to mark the formal launch of the sculpture.

More details can be found here.



Last updated 25 July 2014 physics@tcd.ie (Email).