News and events

Sir Nevill Mott Lecture series

In 1995 Sir Nevill Mott visited the Department of Physics and presented a lecture entitled "65 Years in Physics". The lecture was a great success, and Sir Nevill kindly permitted his name to be associated with an annual lecture series to be given by distinguished invited speakers.

2019 lecture

Professor Stanley Williams: Finding the Mott Memristor

On Tueasday 8 May Prof. Michael Kosterlitz, from Brown University, presented the 2018 Sir Nevill Mott Annual Lecture.

Title: Finding the Mott Memristor

2018 lecture

Professor Michael Kosterlitz: Topological Defects and Phase Transitions - A Random Walk to the Nobel Prize

On Tueasday 8 May Prof. Michael Kosterlitz, from Brown University, presented the 2018 Sir Nevill Mott Annual Lecture.

Title: Topological Defects and Phase Transitions - A Random Walk to the Nobel Prize

Abstract: This talk is about my path to the Nobel Prize and reviews some of the applications of topology and topological defects in phase transitions in two-dimensional systems for which Kosterlitz and Thouless split half the 2016 Physics Nobel Prize. The theoretical predictions and experimental verification in two dimensional superfluids, superconductors and crystals will be reviewed because they provide very convincing quantitative agreement with topological defect theories.

2017 lecture

Professor Zahid Hasan: New Topological States of Matter: Material Platforms for Novel Fermions

On Thursday 25 May Prof. Zahid Hasan, from Princeton University & Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, presented the 2017 Sir Nevill Mott Annual Lecture.

Title: New Topological States of Matter: Material Platforms for Novel Fermions

Abstract: Electrons in solids organize in ways to give rise to distinct phases of matter such as insulators, metals, magnets or superconductors. In the last ten years or so, it has become increasingly clear that in addition to the symmetry-based classification of matter, topological consideration of electronic wavefunctions plays a key role in determining distinct phases of matter [for an introduction, see, Hasan & Kane, Reviews of Modern Physics 82, 3045 (2010)].

In this talk, I introduce these concepts in the context of their experimental realizations in real materials leading to recent developments. As an example, I present how tuning a 3D topological insulator whose surface hosts an unpaired Dirac fermion can give rise to topological superconductors with helical Cooper pairing leading to novel Majorana platforms, Weyl fermion semimetals with “fractional” surface Fermi surfaces, and other topological nodal states of matter.

These topological materials harbor many novel properties that may lead to the development of next generation quantum technologies accelerating the second quantum revolution.


2016 lecture

Professor Yuri Pashkin: Why superconducting circuits are good for quantum technologies

On Wednesday 16 March, Prof. Yuri Pashkin, from Lancaster University, will present the 2016 Sir Nevill Mott Annual Lecture.

Title: Why superconducting circuits are good for quantum technologies 

Abstract: Development of quantum technologies dictates the necessity of finding a proper physical system that could satisfy stringent requirements on quantum coherence of individual components, their scalability, good controllability of device parameters, ease of fabrication, etc.  

Superconducting nanoelectronic devices are among the most promising for many applications in which quantum behaviour becomes important and may satisfy all the requirements imposed. Superconductors possess two properties that are crucial prerequisites for the observation of quantum effects:

(i) they can carry dc current with zero resistance and (ii)  have a gap in the energy spectrum. While the first property ensures dissipationless charge transport in the material, the second property protects charge carriers, the Cooper pairs, from low-energy excitations. This gives a possibility to prepare, manipulate and measure quantum states in superconducting circuits and use them for practical purposes. Also, the fabrication process for superconducting electronics is well established.

In my talk I will give a brief introduction of the field and then focus on two types of circuits that are currently being intensively studied for applications in quantum information processing and quantum metrology. Besides explaining the physics of the superconducting devices, I will also pay attention to some technical issues involved. In the end, I will describe Lancaster efforts in quantum technologies.

Time: 5.15pm

Location: W.0.01 - Sir David Davies Building

Lecture poster coming soon.

2015 lecture

Professor Sir David Wallace: High Performance Computing

The technology of High Performance Computing (HPC) is crucially underpinned by physics and mathematics. In turn HPC is a vital tool for research across the sciences, and for innovation. At the heart of modern HPC is our ability to exploit massively parallel systems, which can consume MWatts of power and deliver billions of calculations per watt. This talk will review the evolution of HPC systems and give examples of the remarkable applications in science which they now support.

See Sir David Wallace's lecture poster

2014 lecture

Professor Sir John Pendry: Metamaterials and the Science of Invisibility

Electromagnetism encompasses much of modern technology. Its influence rests on our ability to deploy materials that can control the component electric and magnetic fields. A new class of materials has created some extraordinary possibilities such as a negative refractive index, and lenses whose resolution is limited only by the precision with which we can manufacture them. Cloaks have been designed and built that hide objects within them, but remain completely invisible to external observers. The new materials, named metamaterials, have properties determined as much by their internal physical structure as by their chemical composition and the radical new properties to which they give access promise to transform our ability to control much of the electromagnetic spectrum.

See Sir John Pendry's lecture poster

2013 lecture

Professor Laurence Eaves: Strong magnetic and electric fields for manipulating quantum states and gravity

Despite its small mass, an electron carries a large electric charge. This unique property allows the physicist to manipulate the motion of electrons by applying a magnetic or electric field. This talk will describe how we can use high magnetic fields to levitate solid matter against the force of gravity, thus allowing us to study the dynamics of rapidly-spinning water droplets (relevant to the physics of black holes!) and the way in which conditions of zero effective gravity modify the behaviour of living organisms. We will also examine how we can use high fields to image and manipulate the quantum states of bound electrons in semiconductor materials and devices.

2012 lecture

Sir John Houghton: Are human activities causing climate change and how damaging will the impacts be?

From the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, over 30 billion tonnes a year of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere. This is increasing the 'greenhouse effect' a scientific principle known forover 200 years, resulting in increased average temperature at the earth's surface. Intense scientific study of all parts of the climate system over the past 30 years has provided strong evidence of a resulting rate of change of climate greater than for many thousands of years bringing serious impacts on human communities and ecosystems. Many co-benefits will accrue from actions taken to reverse the current trends. The need for urgency is inescapable.

2011 lecture

Professor Victor Petrashov: Metal: Box of Surprises

The general properties of metals are well known, but at the nanoscale they show spectacular new phenomena that provide many opportunities for the exploration of fundamental physics and for potential practical applications. These properties are rooted in quantum mechanics, providing insights and new physics fitting to the lifework of Sir Nevill Mott.

2010 lecture

Professor Brian Josephson: Which way for Physics?

Professor Brian Josephson FRS, Emeritus Professor at Cambridge, spoke this year to a large audience. He had received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for the prediction (made while a research student) of supercurrent tunnelling through a barrier (the eponymous Josephson effect). His interests subsequently took a radically different turn, and he directs the Mind Matter Unification Project. His talk, "Which Way for Physics?", stressed the issues related to reductionism of the modern science such as incompatibility of Einsten Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. He has cited the original Phil Andersen’s paper: “More is different” and in this connection noted the importance of emergent phenomena in a broader range of many-body systems including social, information and conceptual networks. He told us that in general these systems, and especially conceptual networks where nodes migrate, decompose and evolve, must be treated as Complex Systems, where the cooperation between units creates a new quality and leads to a formation of new phenomena such as life. He proposed a hypothesis that life is some ultrastable phenomenon that originated as emergent property of some network evolution, where both nodes and coupling between them are changing, and resulted in a new quality. He has put many parallels to this idea illustrating it with the known examples of the network evolutions. In particular, he gave good examples of the jumpy evolution of language networks.

See the presentation

2009 lecture

Professor Sir Roger Penrose: Gravity and the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

In a wide-ranging and thought-provoking tour through some of the deepest puzzles in physics, he presented his ideas on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics and how it may be resolved through the action of matter on space-time, on the second law of thermodynamics and its relation to cosmological artrow of time, on information and black holes and other such matters.