Hymers College for GCSEs & A Levels, Imperial College London for everything after.
BSc and MSc Physics
Other than Imperial, a data science company in London called QuantSpark
Imperial College London
Favourite thing to do in my job: Coming up with a solution to a really tricky problem
I'm from Hull, and in addition to doing physics I play the piano, sing in a choir, and built sets for theatre shows.
I live in north west London with two other physicists — currently our favourite thing to do in the evening is order a takeaway (pizza or Thai!) and watch re-runs of Futurama. I’m a member of the Imperial Choir and the theatre society, and I also organise social events for other PhD students in my group (again — lots of pizza involved).
I’m a he 😊
I’m trying to see if we can use individual molecules and lasers in a vacuum to build a special type of computer, called a quantum computer.
I’m currently trying to develop a source of very, very cold calcium fluoride molecules. Because they’re so cold (-270°C) we have to do this in a vacuum, otherwise all the water in the air would instantly freeze! Here’s a photo of my vacuum chamber (the lightbulb thing is a pressure gauge that tells us that our vacuum is as good as the vacuum at the edge of space):
and here’s a photo of what happens to the water in the air if we turn the machine on without making a vacuum first:
Once we have a source of molecules, we’re hoping to use one of these:
(called Zeeman-Sisyphus decelerator) to cool down the molecules even further, and then trap them. Once they’re trapped we’ll be able to control the direction and speed that they spin in, and hopefully use that to make a computer.
My Typical Day
Usually I'm either in the lab, fixing the experiment or (when it's working) taking data. Other than that I teach electronics to freshers and spend a lot of time reading and doing calculations.
What I'd do with the prize money
I'd get some lasers to take to schools for demonstrations (lasers are really cool!)
I work with lasers a lot, and I think they’re extremely cool — it would be great to be able to have some laser based demonstrations to take to schools and public events. I also work with the Imperial branch of the Optical Society of America, and we do lots of demos for schools.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Physics, theatre, piano.
What's the best thing you've ever done in your career?
So far, I got my experiment to work for a while last week!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My teachers, family, with a little help from Stephen Hawking
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
A physicist (!)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I don't really know -- I've wanted to be a physicist for as long as I can remember!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I watched the James Bond premiere from the Imperial theatre society's office, which is next to the Royal Albert Hall.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Finish my PhD, live abroad for a while, get a new computer.
Tell us a joke.
An electron and a positron go into a bar. Positron: “You’re round.” Electron: “Are you sure?” Positron: “I’m positive.”