best of luck today Dave and Laurence! Excited for the final!! :P
Denbigh High School (2002-2007) Deeside College (2007-2009) Lancaster University (2009-2013) University of Huddersfield(2013-)
10 GCSE A*-C, A Levels – B Chemistry, B Physics, C Maths, C Biology, 2.1 MPhys Hons in Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Bakery, Waiting on, Pet Shop Assistant, Catering, Behind a Bar,
PhD in Accelerator Physics
University of Huddersfield
Favourite thing to do in my job MAKING my own experiments at home, like a solar telescope out of a shoe box and using it to look at sun spots, or rockets out of paper tubes!
I aim to make a very fast particle accelerator using devices the size of your finger!
Light is made up of waves (called ElectroMagnetic Waves), and they contain energy. This energy can be obtained, if you know how!
Now, there are many different types of ElectroMagnetic waves, from the looonngg wavelengths (Radio waves), to mid-range wavelength (visable light), to the very short wavelengths (X-rays and Gamma rays).
A metamaterial is a device which is smaller than the wavelength of light you shine onto it (like a person compared to a building), but is also made up of the same shape over and over again. This is called a Periodic Structure.
My work looks at using these metamaterials to harness the energy out of electromagnetic waves. And because the size of my device is a few centimetres, the wavelength of light I use is a few tens of centimetres, so microwaves (yes, the same wavelength that is used in your microwave oven at home!)
My Typical Day
Full of work, fun, and lots of tea :)
Day starts off with a cup of tea! It’s amazing just how much a good cup of tea can start the day off. Next, I check my emails, do a bit of programming (currently learning Python, a light-wave package called MEEP, and a simulation package called COMSOL). Say hi to the guys as they also arrive at the office. A second cuppa is in here somewhere too.
Next, I go down to the lab to test out my metamaterial structure. You can see my experimental setup in the picture! I’m currently in the process of making a third structure to test how EM-waves interact with the structure. I get to use the Network Analyser for this, and measure something called the “Scattering Parameters” (how much of the wave gets transmitted through, or reflected off, the structure). This normally takes a while, because I need to calibrate my equipment to make sure the results I take are reliable and actually useable!
Lunch Time! Time to go for a walk to town to the “meat shop” as we call it 😛 Basically, Crawfords, and they cook really nice lunch food! I’ll have Hot and Spicy Chicken, or Hunters Chicken (BBQ sauce, Chicken and Bacon), or a sandwich. If the weather is nice we may even go and play frisbee in the park! If not, we totter back to the office (tea #3), eat up, and then continue with our work.
In the afternoon, I try and read recent journals, or read a book to help improve my knowledge of accelerators and metamaterials. If I have a report due in, I’ll often do that in the afternoon too. Again, cuppa tea 🙂 Incase you haven’t noticed, I like tea :)Then it’s the end of the day, and everyone disappears off home.
At home, I normally play videogames. I’m currently working my way through Pokemon Leaf Green, or I play games like Tomb Raider or Star Wars. Work hard, Play hard, that’s what I think! I also play with my guinea pigs, because they are cute and love cuddles.
Finally, I pack my bag and get ready for another day tomorrow.
What I'd do with the money
Invest in hands on demonstrations to invite local schools to the department!
If I won, then I would use the money to invest in hands on kits, so my department could invite schools to the university for a demonstration day. This would include magnets (to make Gauss Canons), Tesla Coils, Bike Generators etc…
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Bubbley, Friendly, Excited!
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Inspired people to achieve their potential, whatever subject that is in
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
A photonic school run by Dr Ray Davis at OpTIC Technium, St Asaph
Were you ever in trouble at school?
yes… talking too much!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Actress / Musician
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Gorillaz and Red Hot Chili Peppers, at the moment
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Jumped into a stream in November!
Tell us a joke.
Q. What is the name of the first electricity detective? A. Sherlock Ohms!
Occasionally, we also go to the Cockcroft Laboratory in Daresbury to visit the accelerators there. Below you can see EMMA, the worlds first Non Scaling Fixed Field Alternating Gradient (nsFFAG) accelerator.
And talk about a Van Der Graff! Daresbury owns the largest Van Der Graff I have ever seen!