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LUX dark matter detector

Detecting dark matter

The kind of matter and energy we can see and touch – whether it is in the form of atoms and molecules, or heat and light, only forms a tiny proportion of the content of the Universe, only about 5%. Over a quarter is dark matter, which is totally invisible but whose gravitational attraction can be detected; while over two thirds is dark energy, a force that pushes the Universe to expand ever faster.

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Two UCL researchers awarded Daiwa Adrian Prize

24 July 2013

Two UCL researchers, Professor Alexander Shluger and Dr Peter Sushko (both from UCL Physics & Astronomy and London Centre for Nanotechnology), have been awarded one of the 2013 Daiwa Adrian Prizes, which recognise significant scientific collaboration between Japanese and British research teams. The team was awarded the prize jointly with researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology for a longstanding collaboration in materials science.

The prizes, awarded every three years, acknowledge those that have combined excellence in scientific achievement with a long-term contribution to UK-Japan relations. UCL’s close relations with Japan date back to the 1860s, when it was the first European university to admit Japanese students.

This is the excellent result of our long-standing collaboration with the group of Professor Hideo Hosono at the Tokyo Institute of Technology

Prof Alex Shluger

The winning research teams will receive £10,000 and a prize giving ceremony will be held at the Royal Society in London on 27 November 2013.

Professor Shluger, lead researcher for the UCL team, said “This is the excellent result of our long-standing collaboration with the group of Professor Hideo Hosono at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. I am particularly happy for the young researchers involved in this project, Drs Sushko, Hayashi and Toda, whose efforts made this project a success.”

The collaboration seeks to find novel properties of materials made up of relatively common elements. For instance, one focus of the research has been on calcium aluminate, a transparent material which can conduct electricity, and which is made of cheap and abundant elements. Currently used compounds with these properties require rare and expensive materials – a major issue in Japan, which has very few mineral deposits, and a large high-tech manufacturing sector.

the charge density of four electrons localised in 12 cages of the unit cell of [Ca_24 Al_28 O_64]^4+ . 4e-: 1/3 of an electron per cage. Credit: Peter Shushko
The charge density of electrons in calcium aluminate
Credit: Peter Sushko (UCL Physics & Astronony / London Centre for Nanotechnology)

The Japanese team focused on experimental study of the materials, with UCL’s researchers providing theoretical analysis based on computer simulations. This combination of theoretical and experimental study is a highly effective way to attack scientific problems from two different perspectives.

The UCL and Japanese teams have been collaborating since 2003. Their latest paper has just been accepted for publication in Nature Communications.


The prize was awarded for a project entitled Exploration of Active Functionality in Abundant Oxide Materials Utilizing Unique Nanostructure: discovering novel properties of traditional materials through curiosity-driven research.

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Oli Usher
UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
020 7679 7964

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