RIFP Fellows are appointed across a very broad range of science areas – from studies of interstellar dust to development of new surfactant molecules for pharmaceutical or detergent uses. Here you can read about the researchers employed under the programme and their projects by clicking on their name. These pages for each Fellow are in the process of being created at the moment – the project titles for the first and second groups of Fellowships to be awarded are also available.
(Credit: Sepideh Aliasghari)
Copper supper conducting radio frequency (SRF) cavity preparation and deposition
Fellowship started: June 2017
Fellowship ending: June 2019
Sepideh got her BSc in chemistry and MSc in material science from Sharif University of Iran. Her initial career was as a technical manager in a metallurgical research centre. She gained her PhD in material science and engineering (corrosion and protection) from the University of Manchester, and followed this as a postdoctoral research associate on plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) on titanium.
The use of copper as a main accelerator cavity material is primarily due to lowering the cost of the cavity since high purity niobium costs around 40 times more than copper. Another important aspect is the copper thermal conductivity with respect to niobium that can be crucial in promptly transmitting the heat generated in local hot spots to the liquid helium bath. The aim of my work is a systematic study on the effect of substrate preparation to provide optimum interface quality to produce films which adhere strongly to reduce thermal contact resistance.
(Credit: Carolyn Atkins)
Additive manufacturing for the next generation of astronomical components
Fellowship started: August 2016
Fellowship ending: July 2018
My research investigates the application of additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, towards light-weight space-based optical components for astronomy. The advantage of additive manufacturing is that it allows the user to build an object layer-upon-layer in a wide range of materials, which means the designer is no longer constrained by traditional machining/tooling methods. Space-based imaging systems have to overcome the Earth’s gravity in order to achieve operation and therefore light-weight optical systems are paramount to ensure the maximum photon collecting area for a given launch-weight restriction. It is hoped during the two years of the fellowship that a series of proof-of-concept additively manufactured test samples will be created. These test samples will trial a variety of additive manufacturing materials and methods and study the effect of the light-weighting structures in terms of print-through upon the optical surface. The goal is to demonstrate that additive manufacturing can be used to create research grade optical components for space-based optical systems.
(Credit: Yao Chen)
Exploration of the aggregate structure for oligomeric surfactant by neutron scattering
Fellowship started: August 2017
Fellowship ending: August 2019
Surfactants have been widely used in cosmetics, detergents and pharmaceutical industries. These applications are always related to surfactant-lipid interactions. The interaction plays an important role in a vast field, including the activity and delivery of drugs, the regulation of cellular processes and the food digestion. The lipid-surfactant interaction helps to predict the skin irritation power of surfactant because human skin is mainly composed of lipids and proteins. The interaction of conventional single chain surfactant with lipid has been well studied to promote its practical use. However, with the growing customer requirement, novel surfactants with higher surface activity and lower CMCs are needed. Oligomeric surfactant, with three or more hydrophobic tails, should be taken into consideration due to its outstanding self-assembly properties. Therefore, the interaction of oligomeric surfactant with lipid should be considered first before practical use. In this project, with the help of SANS at ISIS, the most powerful approach to study the precious structures of surfactant aggregates, the precious aggregate structure of the oligomeric surfactants can be detected. We seek to know how different surfactant aggregates interact with lipid and this may lead some new application for oligomeric surfactant.
(Credit: Shuo Zhang)
Neutron scattering studies of novel multiferroic materials
Fellowship started: June 2016
Fellowship ending: May 2018
My research aims to understand the relationship between structure (both crystal and magnetic) and physical properties in novel transition metal materials with particular interests on multiferroics, frustrated magnets, low dimensional magnets and other magnetic order related novel properties. Multiferroic materials with a coexistence or cross-coupling of magnetic and ferroelectric order have attracted considerable interest both from fundamental and technological point of view. Such functionality has the potential for new technology such as energy-efficient, electrically written magnetic memories and four-logic states cell. My main task is to exploit novel multiferroics as well as to understand their mechanism based on the precise understanding of their crystal and magnetic symmetry. Diffraction techniques such as neutron and x-ray diffraction are essential techniques in investigating multiferroics since they are sensitive to both magnetic orderings and structural distortions. In the support of RIFP grant, I am able to take advantage of the advanced techniques based at RAL such as the ISIS neutron and muon source and Diamond light source to accomplish my research.
(Credit: Ashley Hughes)
Development of time resolved pump-probe circular dichroism at B23
Fellowship started: April 2017
Fellowship ending: March 2019
Circular Dichroism (CD) is a technique whereby chiral molecules are probed by left and right circularly polarized light and the differences in absorption between the left and right polarized light are recorded. This provides information concerning the molecule and its environment and has been used for many years to probe the environment and structure of many biomolecules. In the far UV region (175-260 nm) it has been extensively utilised to probe protein secondary structure as a function of solvent, pH, temperature, pressure, detergents, and ligands whilst the near UV (250-350 nm) can be explored to investigate the structure of DNA and the ternary structure of proteins via the aromatic side chains. This fellowship will enable the development of a state-of-the-art time-resolved pump-probe facility at the B23 CD beamline at Diamond light source. A new range of experiments will be possible investigating, for example, photoactive proteins, caged ligand systems and temperature (T)-Jump experiments. These will be developed in a user friendly manner essential for reaching out to the broad UK Soft Matter and Biology communities.
(Credit: Olivia Jones)
Origins of Dust
Fellowship started: October 2017
Fellowship ending: September 2019
My astrophysics research focuses on infrared stellar populations in Local Group galaxies and what they have to say about the chemical evolution of the Universe.
Cool dusty stars and supernovae enrich the interstellar medium with heavy elements and dust grains. These dying stars emit radiation in the infrared. Therefore, using cameras on board the Spitzer Space Telescope, Herschel and the (soon to be launched) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) the dust producing (and dust destroying) stellar populations of Local Group galaxies can be observed. This allows stars to be characterised on a galactic scale and constraints put on the chemical composition and, abundances of dust as a function of the metallicity (the ratio of heavy elements to helium), following the cosmic evolution of astrophysical dust from the high-redshift universe to the present-day.
To do this, the vast majority of my research involves analysing infrared spectroscopy, photometry and generating radiative transfer models.
(Credit: Shyamal Mondal)
Particle beam manipulation with high-field THz pulses
Fellowship started: June 2017
Fellowship ending: May 2019
My project will deliver a new generation of high-energy particle accelerators which will meet scientific challenges of this century. The conventional RF-driven accelerator technology is limited to acceleration gradients of less than 100MV/m. Moreover, multi-km scale facilities requires for such high-energy particle physics experiments. It also requires complex equipment and control measures to enable femtosecond resolution in temporal measurement and control of particle bunches. Terahertz radiations have the potential to overcome these challenges and can deliver acceleration gradients several orders of magnitude higher than at radio frequencies. Furthermore, terahertz accelerators have the possibility to be inherently synchronised to femtosecond precision, with multiple critical systems driven by a single-pulsed laser system. I am developing an optical setup which can deliver a high brightness tunable THz radiation source by exploiting the nonlinear optical processes. This THz radiation will accelerate the electron bunches inside the waveguide structures. Using high power Ti:Sapphire oscillator-amplifier laser system, optimisation of an appropriate high field-strength terahertz source and optical engineering design will be carried out to enable the necessary terahertz/particle interaction. This system will be experimentally validated on a working particle-accelerator, demonstrating the viability of the terahertz as a means to manipulate and control high-energy particle beams.
(Credit: Marcelo Rubinho)
Properties of massive stars: single and binaries
Fellowship started: September 2016
Fellowship ending: September 2018
My research interests are focused on the study of the formation and evolution of massive stars (> 8 solar masses). Massive stars end their lives as core collapse supernovae. They are powerful cosmic engines that impact their surroundings affecting the evolution of the galaxies in which they reside. In recent years it has become evident that the majority of the most massive stars do not exist in isolation but form and evolve in binary systems. Massive binary systems can also be the progenitors of black hole binary systems and hence be potential gravitational wave sources such as GW150914, first gravitational wave source detected by LIGO.
The aim of my fellowship is to investigate properties of massive OB objects, single and binaries, located in different starburst regions in the Local Group. By analysing multi-epoch optical spectroscopy, obtained with different instruments of the Very Large Telescope, I determine stellar properties such as temperatures, luminosities, mass-loss rates, etc., for the single stars and orbital periods, mass-ratios, eccentricities, etc., for the binary systems. My work not only aims to constrain their stellar properties but also bridge the gap between observations and theoretical predictions. Finally, at UKATC I am also contributing to the Phase-A study of the potential second generation Multi-Object Spectrograph “MOSAIC” of the Extremely Large Telescope.
(Credit: Jhuma Sannigrahi)
Neutron scattering and μSR studies on transition metal based oxides: An experimental approach to address magnetic structure and interactions
Fellowship started: May 2017
Fellowship ending: May 2019
Transition metal oxides (TMOs) that straddle the subtle boundary between covalent, ionic and metallic bonding show copious physical phenomena, such as high-Tc superconductivity in layered cuprates, colossal magnetoresistance (CMR) in perovskite manganites, half-metallicity, low dimensional (D) magnetism, coexistence of magnetism and ferroelectricity — termed multiferroicity, spin-liquid ground state and many more. This diversity has been stimulated interest for decades while particular focus resides on 3d oxides, where strong electron correlations dominate due to narrow bandwidth with a dramatic manifestation being the occurrence of the Mott metal-insulator transition and 5d oxides, unconventional phenomena are induced by the competing spin-orbit coupling and electron correlation. However, most of the modern transition metal based systems under study remain to be formally analysed in terms of magnetic point group symmetries, which are vital for the analysis and prediction of the magnetic structures, magnetic excitations, spin fluctuations as well as magnetoelectric effects and for this the microscopic techniques, like- inelastic neutron scattering, neutron diffraction and μSR are obvious. Hence, the aim of my research is to study suitable 3d and 5d TMOs using these techniques, which will allow a stringent test of the various theoretical models based on low-D magnetism, multiferroicity, and frustrated magnetism.