The N8 Physics Research Network represents physics departments across the N8 universities. It has been created to identify areas where collaboration would be beneficial.
The Network has identified five areas where there is shared strength across the N8, broadly aligning with those identified by the EPSRC Physics Capital Working Group. These are:
- Quantum technologies
- Biological and soft matter physics
- Ultra fast spectroscopy
- Advanced materials growth and characterisation
- Electron microscopy
Quantum technologies utilise fundamental quantum phenomena such as superposition, entanglement and the irreversibility of quantum measurement, in areas such as communications, sensing and metrology, simulation and computing.
The N8 universities have significant capability in quantum physics. Experimental and implementation expertise comprises:
- Atomic, molecular and optical systems
- Spins in quantum dots and devices, active quantum photonic circuits
- Superconducting devices
- Nanomechanical resonators
Biological and soft matter physics
The area of biological and soft matter physics is immense and inherently multidisciplinary, encompassing:
- Theory and simulation
- Condensed matter physics
- Materials physics
- Biological physics
The N8 universities are internationally competitive in this area of research, with Centres of Excellence including Durham Centre for Soft Matter, Sheffield Polymer Centre, and groups at Manchester, York and Leeds. There are also emerging strengths in the areas of biological imaging, single molecule biophysics and other interdisciplinary activities across the N8.
Ultra-fast spectroscopy is highly versatile and can be applied to research in a range of materials, and is being used across the N8 universities to address problems in condensed matter physics in areas such as:
- Information and communication technologies
- Healthcare technologies
Within the N8, laser spectroscopy is currently used to study dynamics in organic semiconductors, inorganic quantum well-based heterostructures, colloidal quantum dots, silicon-based photonics and in magnetic multilayers. Work is underway to develop an ultra-fast laser system that will increase research impact and encourage greater collaboration.
Advanced Materials Growth and Characterisation
Advanced materials growth and characterisation has specific overlap with chemistry and materials, leading to an increased need for collaboration to maximise the capability, impact and efficiency in this area.
The N8 universities have recognised strengths in the areas of:
- Condensed matter and magnetic materials
- Condensed matter – electronic structure, functional ceramics and inorganic materials
Electron microscopy is a cross-cutting technique that has applications not only in physics but increasingly in materials research and in more biological-based areas (e.g. beam-sensitive materials). Strengths within the N8 universities include:
- SuperSTEM (EPSRC National Facility for Aberration-corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy)
- Physical Science based EM Centres
- EPSRC-funded Nanoscience and Nanoequipment external access facility