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News Archive 2014

08 DEC 2014

Prof. Coleman at TEDx Brussels, How the magic of nano connects blenders, printers and rubber bands

6 NOV 2014

Trinity Physicist wins SFI Advance Award

At the SFI Science Summit, which took place recently in Athlone, the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, announced the ten recipients of €1.7 million in funding delivered by the Department of Jobs through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Advance Award Programme. The programme is aimed at encouraging women to return to or stay in a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the recipients were recognised with 300 leading researchers in Ireland in attendance. 

Four scientists in Trinity were among the 10 women who received the award of €175,000 each. Among them is Dr Elisabetta Arca of the School of Physics whose research aims to improve the performance and reliability of p-n junctions, the fundamental building blocks of many electronic devices, including computers, flat screens and LEDs. This project aims to bring the technological development of transparent p-n junctions to a completely new level, thus enabling a set of new functionalities necessary for the realization of transparent electronics. She will carry out the research in the laboratories in both the School of Physics and in Trinity’s research institute for nanoscience, CRANN.

For more details on the SFI Advance Awards please click here.

18 NOV 2014

European Commission Honours Irish Scientist

Dr Shane Bergin, Investigator at Trinity College Dublin’s School of Physics and nanoscience institute, CRANN, has today been awarded the European Commission’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) achievement award.  The award recognises Dr. Bergin’s contribution to communicating science in a fun and attractive way and mentoring the next generation in science.
The European Commission presented the award to Dr. Bergin today during the ‘Empowering the Next Generation of Researchers’ conference of the Italian EU Presidency in Trento, Italy.

The award for ‘Communicating Science’ spearheaded by Dr. Bergin, included an eye-catching poster campaign about physics called "DARTofPhysics" on Dublin’s DART train.  This mass outreach effort involved some 50 scientists and 300 students, and caught commuters' attention by sparking their curiosities and inviting them to visit the campaign website to continue their physics journey.

"Shane's innovative idea, placing posters raising awareness among train commuters of the importance of physics in everyday life, is simple but elegant. It seems to make so much sense to fill one's commuter time looking up the answer on their advertised website" declared Dr Claire Belcher, a jury member in her capacity as MSCA winner of the prize in 2012 and now ERC Principal Investigator.

Commenting on his receipt of the award, Dr. Bergin said, “I am delighted to receive this award. DARTofPhysics sparked a city-wide conversation about physics, showing physics to be creative, inspiring and beautiful. I worked with a large team of scientists, advertisers, students and web designers to bring DARTofPhysics to life. We had so much fun running the campaign.”  

“I am particularly proud to represent Ireland and to draw attention to how we make science accessible for all”. The European Commission also recognised two other researchers for their achievements, the "Promising Research Talent" prize was awarded to Dr Maanasa Raghavan, a researcher in paleogenomics based in Denmark and to Dr Sarah Bohndiek, a group leader at the University of Cambridge and within a Cancer Research UK institute, received the "Nurturing Research Talent" prize.

03 NOV 2014

Adama Innovations Ltd, a research spin out company receives €750,000 in funding

Adama Innovations Ltd, an early stage company focused on deploying nanotechnology to common manufacturing processes, has secured €750,000 in seed-funding. The investment will enable Adama to scale up production of their first product, a nano-scale probe fabricated from diamond, used in atomic force microscopy (AFM), which images, measures, and manipulates matter at the nanoscale.

Owing to their fabrication in solid diamond, Adama’s industry leading probes hold clear advantages for many applications, uniquely combining the highest levels of performance and durability. They will be instrumental in solving current and future challenges in high-tech manufacturing allowing industry to understand better the surfaces of their materials at the nanoscale, to improve their products and prevent defects.

Adama Innovations was spun out from AMBER in 2013 by co-founder Prof Graham Cross, Principal Investigator in Trinity’s School of Physics and is based in Dublin. The investment syndicate included Enterprise Ireland, NDRC VentureLab and Irrus Investments.

Dr. Brian O'Neill, Manager High Potential Start-Ups, Industrial & Lifesciences from Enterprise Ireland said, “Adama Innovations has shown great progress since being established in 2013. We are delighted to fund a company at this early stage, with plans to exceed €2 million in revenue and create 10 high-tech manufacturing jobs in the next 3 years. Their offering is a remarkable one, as their diamond probes will provide a greater understanding of materials, both man made and biological. This has innovative uses such as giving insight into how antibiotics or other drugs interact with cells in the body.”

This is the second large scale investment the company has received in the past twelve months, having been selected last year to receive almost €400,000 in funding from the European Commission’s FP7 FaBiMed project, which aims to fund nanoscience research to develop advanced manufacturing techniques for medical devices. As part of FaBimed, Adama Innovations is examining how this micro-patterning could be used in moulds and coatings for the fabrication of medical devices, increasing their capability and reducing the cost of manufacture.

Declan Scanlan, Managing Director of Adama Innovations Ltd, said, “This investment is great news for Adama Innovations. Our team brings together expertise in materials science, high-tech fabrication, and business growth in order to deliver the highest quality product. Almost anything that is solid can be analysed by an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), this includes cancer cells, viruses, plastic composites, metals, ceramics and biological surfaces. The AFM allows researchers, scientists and engineers to look at the surface of objects at the atomic level, which offers benefits to the medical devices and pharmaceutical industries, and cancer research, among others.

Declan Scanlan, added: “The first benefit of our AFM probes is that they offer the maximum level of atomic resolution, uniquely combining this with a longer lasting, hard diamond tip which ultimately provides cost savings for industry. Other advantages are that they enable significantly faster scanning of samples and at a much higher accuracy and precision than what has been possible to date, and with highly conductive diamond, they allow electrical AFM scanning, which is a rapidly growing application

Dr. Peter T. Gallagher on Morning Ireland, What are solar flares and sunspots?

‘DARTofPhysics’ Wins Prestigious Web Award

A team of researchers from Trinity College Dublin who were behind an innovative science outreach campaign that brought the weird and wonderful world of physics to Dublin’s DART commuters have won the 2014 prize for producing the ‘best education and third level website’, which supported their ‘DARTofPhysics’ campaign.

The Realex Fire Web Awards are held annually to recognise people who do great things on the web. The awards span 29 categories recognising websites in News and Media, Entertainment and Arts, Technology and Social, Government, Education and Community, Commerce and Mobile sectors as well as Technical Awards with over 600 entries from organisations across Ireland.

In 2013, DARTofPhysics zapped the curiosities of Dublin commuters through physics adverts placed on Dublin’s DART train. Statements like ‘The Spire is shorter when the weather is cool’ and questions such as ‘How many leaves fall in Dublin every autumn?’ encouraged commuters to ponder physics phenomena on their way to work, as well as to continue their journey on the campaign.

“DARTofPhysics aimed to capture the beauty of physics through statements and challenges with our website as the hub for a city-wide conversation,” said Senior Research Fellow in Trinity’s School of Physics, Dr Shane Bergin, who founded the campaign.

Dr Bergin worked with researchers from Trinity’s School of Education and Trinity’s nanoscience institute, CRANN, to make the campaign a success; dartofphysics connected Dubliners with Trinity scientists and the award-winning website was peppered with up to 10,000 daily visits from interested individuals.

See the full story here: Link

Dr. Shane Bergin, speaker at the conference on Junior Cycle Science

Dr. Shane Bergin, School of Physics Trinity College Dublin spoke at the conference. The audience reacted very warmly to the work Dr. Bergin is undertaking here in Trinity College (in collaboration with Prof. Murphy from the School of Education) on informal learning (DARTofPhysics) and bringing cooperative & problem-based learning to undergrad physics labs. Regarding the work they do in the physics undergraduate teaching lab, some remarked that they are less constrained in what we teach at third level, that our findings should be held up as an example of how small reforms can lead to significant, and positive, change when discussing such matters with second-level educators.

The 14th European Solar Physics Meeting

The 14th European Solar Physics Meeting (ESPM-14, URL:; twitter: @ESPM2014) will take place next week in the Hamilton Building, McNeil Lecture Theatre. The Solar Physics Group (part of Astrophysics Research Group) will host the largest gathering of professional solar research scientists in Europe, to discuss and debate the latest discoveries relating to our nearest star. It is expected that over 240 solar scientists will attend the meeting in what is billed as, ‘the premier conference in Europe’ in all aspects relating to the physics of the Sun. Solar physics is a science that addresses some of the biggest scientific questions in modern day astrophysics, with solar astronomers having access to some of the most advanced technology available, such as the ESA and NASA satellites. ESPM-14 is poised to deliver the latest developments in our understanding of how the Sun works and the latest insights into the forces that drive adverse space weather.

Event Details
Date:    Monday, 8 September - Friday, 12 September
Venue:  McNeil Lecture Theatre, Hamilton Building

Dr. Shaun Bloomfield (ESPM-14 LOC Chair) School of Physics

As part of the ESPM-14, there will be a public talk on the theme of ’Strange Space Weather: Pål Brekke on the Northern Lights’ by a prominent solar physicist, Pål Brekke , Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Space Centre, to be hosted by the Science Gallery in the Paccar Theatre on Thursday, September 11. All are welcome.

Event Details
Title : ’Strange Space Weather: Pål Brekke on the Northern Lights’
Date:   6.00pm to 7.15pm.
Venue:  Paccar Theatre, Science Gallery
Admission fee: €5

For further information on this pubic talk please visit the Science Gallery events section at:ålbrekkenorthernlights

Nanomechanical Sensors for Single Microbial Cell Growth Monitoring

A nanomechanical technique for rapid real time detection and monitoring of microorganism growth will significantly reduce costs and diagnosis times in industrial and clinical settings. Owing to their label free detection mechanism and unprecedented sensitivity to the mass and elastic modulus of biological structures, dynamically operated cantilever arrays provide an opportunity to rapidly detect and track the evolution of microbial growth. The team of Prof. M. Hegner (School of Physics) reported the monitoring of the growth of single Aspergillus niger spores via the multimode response of microcantilevers. The fungal hyphal structure affects the cantilevers' nanomechanical properties as it propagates along the sensor. They demonstrated, for the first time, the mapping of cellular events with great accuracy using a cantilever frequency response. Imaging of growth conditions on the cantilever, which is performed in parallel, allowed for verification of these results.

Images of growth of single spores on oscillating cantilever sensors. White rectangles outline the cantilever. The free and the clamped end of the cantilever beam are indicated to both sides of images. Vertical scale 500 µm.

Professor in the School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin, Dr. Martin Hegner, said, “ This work demonstrates that mechanical testing of single cells in real-time can lead to diagnostic results which are ten times faster than current methods.”

Pietro Zucca on Dublin City FM’s Astronomy Show

Pietro Zucca chatted to Ben Emmet on the Dublin FM’s Astronomy Show last week about the Sun, Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory and the I Lofar project. Pietro is currently a PhD student in the School of Physics Astrophysics research group.

Irish researchers create wearable sensors using rubber bands

Researchers at the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin and AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre, have discovered a method of creating wearable sensors by adding graphene to shop-bought rubber bands; the first time this has ever been achieved worldwide. Working with researchers from the University of Surrey, their findings have been published in ACS Nano, a leading international nanoscience publication.

The team - led by Professor Jonathan Coleman, infused rubber bands with graphene, a nano-material derived from pencil lead which is 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. This process is simple and compatible with normal manufacturing techniques. While rubber does not normally conduct electricity, the addition of graphene made the rubber bands electrically conductive without degrading the mechanical properties of the rubber. Tests showed that, any electrical current flowing through the graphene-infused rubber bands was very strongly affected if the band was stretched. As a result, if the band is attached to clothing, the tiniest movements such as breath and pulse can be sensed.

The discovery opens up a host of possibilities for the development of wearable sensors from rubber, which could be used to monitor blood pressure, joint movement and respiration. Other applications of rubber-graphene sensors could be in the automotive industry (to develop sensitive airbags); in robotics, in medical device development (to monitor bodily motion), as early warning systems for cot death in babies or sleep apnoea in adults. They could also be woven into clothing to monitor athletes’ movement or for patients undergoing physical rehabilitation.

The discovery was welcomed by Minister for Research and Innovation Damien English TD who said, "This exciting discovery shows that Irish research is at the leading edge of material science worldwide. AMBER is one of a number of research centres funded by the Government to carry out world-class research in collaboration with industry in strategic areas of opportunity for Ireland. Material science underpins a wide range of market opportunities that have the greatest potential to deliver economic return through enterprise development, employment growth and job retention in Ireland. This discovery is a key stepping stone in our strategy of turning good ideas into good jobs. I congratulate Professor Coleman, his team and collaborators at AMBER for this great discovery and wish them well for the future."

Professor Jonathan Coleman, AMBER, said, “Sensors are becoming extremely important in medicine, wellness and exercise, medical device manufacturing, car manufacturing and robotics, among other areas. Biosensors, which are worn on or implanted into the skin, must be made of durable, flexible and stretchable materials that respond to the motion of the wearer. By implanting graphene into rubber, a flexible natural material, we are able to completely change its properties to make it electrically conductive, to develop a completely new type of sensor. Because rubber is available widely and cheaply, this unique discovery will open up major possibilities in sensor manufacturing worldwide.”

Corresponding author, Dr Alan Dalton from the University of Surrey continued, “Until now, no such sensor has been produced that meets needs and that can be easily made. It sounds like a simple concept, but our graphene-infused rubber bands could really help to revolutionise certain aspects of healthcare.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “Congratulations to Professor Coleman and his team on this discovery. Science Foundation Ireland is committed to funding impactful research which will lead to new products and services of the future. Just over a year since it was established as an SFI Research Centre, AMBER’s researchers are working to address the big issues facing modern society – across healthcare, energy, transport and other areas. It is this type of research that has led to Ireland’s international position as 3rd for nanoscience and 6th for materials science. I look forward to future developments from this team.”

The largest ever Irish National Astronomy Meeting is taking place in Trinity College Dublin: 13TH – 15th August

The largest ever Irish National Astronomy Meeting is taking place in Trinity College Dublin, from the 13-15th August, with over 100 registered participants representing 13 different research bodies (University/Institutes/Observatory) across Ireland. This meeting will bring together Irish astrophysicists from across the island of Ireland to discuss the latest in space science and engage in future collaborations.

The meeting will be held in the Joly Lecture Theater (Hamilton Building). Furthermore, this years INAM will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the Astronomy Science Group of Ireland (ASGI), the premier astrophysics organization in Ireland for hosting meetings of professional astronomers to discuss the latest research in this field. Its going to be out of this world !

The event is being organized by Prof. Brian Espey and Dr. Eamon Scullion who are part of the School of Physics in TCD.

World Leading Researchers and Entrepreneurs in Dublin to Focus on the Business of Science.

International line-up of speakers includes Sir John Pethica, Physical Secretary of the Royal Society; President of Nanomechanics Inc. Dr. Warren Oliver; Dr. Erica Lilleodden Helmholtz-Zentrum Geestacht Materials Institute Germany and Prof. Hayden Taylor, University of California Berkeley

AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded materials science centre at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), is hosting a conference on both commercialisation and scientific opportunities within nanomechanics and materials science. The Nanomechanics conference, which takes place on Friday 8th August at AMBER is funded by the Dublin Graduate Physics Programme (DGPP) and aims to encourage the growing culture of business, entrepreneurship and commercialisation amongst AMBER and other Irish researchers.

Organised by Prof. Graham Cross, an Investigator at AMBER and Trinity’s School of Physics, the conference will allow Irish researchers to hear of the experiences of international science entrepreneurs who have successfully turned their research into thriving commercial businesses. Topics for discussion will include how to start a business and how to develop industry partnerships in Ireland and globally.

Speakers include Dr. Warren Oliver, whose publication in 1992 on how to characterise the mechanical behaviour at small scales is the one of the world’s most cited materials science papers. Dr Oliver is now President of Nanomechanics Inc. which creates instruments that measure the mechanical properties of nanomaterials - crucial for the manufacturing industry - and which has a market share of approximately $40 million.

In addition, leading Irish scientist Sir. John Pethica, Physical Secretary and Vice-President of the Royal Society of London and co-founder with Dr.Oliver of Nano Instruments Inc.; Dr. Erica Lilleodden, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht; Prof. Hayden Taylor, University of California Berkeley and Prof. John Boland, Principal Investigator, AMBER will speak about the importance of industry engagement in scientific research and the opportunities for Irish researchers.

Prof. Cross will also speak about his experiences in spinning out a successful research business from Trinity College Dublin– Adama Innovations Ltd. His company, which was founded in 2013 uses a simple and cost-efficient process for imprinting nanosized patterns on to materials and hard surfaces; with potential uses in anti-counterfeiting technology, labelling and manufacturing.

Speaking in advance of the conference, Professor Cross said, “There is a real opportunity for Irish scientists to turn their laboratory-based research into commercial reality. Industries such as biotech, medical devices, energy, ICT and pharmaceuticals all need excellent scientific research for product and service development, allowing companies to grow their businesses, increase employment and continue to benefit the economy in Ireland and globally. Irish researchers can work with industry and the business community to commercialise their research and ensure continual impact on the manufacturing and development of new products and services. Beyond the scientific topics to be discussed, this conference aims to discuss the possibilities for Irish researchers to tap into the global R&D market and to continue to deliver research that benefits on the economy and wider society.”

Dr. Warren Oliver said, “I am delighted to see such a culture of entrepreurship and innovation already existing in the Irish research community. There is a significant opportunity for Irish scientists, particularly in my own area of nanoinstruments, to contribute to and access a global market which is worth up to $2 billion annually. That delivers good return on investment for the Irish Government and is it is one of the most important ways in which science can have a real impact.”

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 occasion "

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!”


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.

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.

Professor Werner Blau and Dr Yong Zhang at Trinity College and AMBER commented: “Vacuum filtration promises straightforward incorporation of various 1D and 2D functional components into thin films. Our transfer method provides a powerful technique for safe, efficient, fast, and targeted transfer of such hybrid thin films. This work combines basic and applied research and contains elements of physics, chemistry, materials science, and engineering. Mass production of high-quality functional films on substrates is possible using large-area filter membranes.”

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

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


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


Daily Mail

Business Insider



The Verge


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.

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 (Friday, 25 April 2014) or below.

The story was also the most read story on BBC’s website during the week,

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 Commons

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

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.

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

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. 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 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

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
Telephone: +353 87 656 8975

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

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

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 or

CERN campaign launch was a smashing success

Students 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 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. 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


The overarching aim of the project dartofphysics 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.

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.

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.

"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. has been developed by Zooniverse, home of the largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects.”

News & Views

Apples and Atoms

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.

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).


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.