Physics and Astronomy News


An ultimate speed limit for cooling

How cold can it get? That depends how long you are willing to wait. The third law of thermodynamics, conjectured in 1912 by the Nobel laureate Walter Nernst, states that it takes an infinite time to cool a system to absolute zero – the coldest temperature possible.

Panasas aisle (Credit: STFC)

UCL secures STFC funding to teach next generation of data-science experts

After a very competitive selection process, UCL has been chosen by STFC to host the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Data Intensive Science (DIS) and Technologies, the first CDT funded by STFC.

Kathleen Lonsdale building entrance

Museum in Kathleen Lonsdale Building nears completion

The Kathleen Lonsdale Building (KLB) is being refurbished and will provide a new space for the Rock Room museum, which will display the UCL geology collections to the public. The refurbishment is part of the Transforming UCL programme which will see an overall investment into the UCL estate of £1.2 billion over a 10 year period. More...

•	Delegates outside National Centre for Nanoscience and Technology, China (Credit: Professor Xiao Guo)

UCL visits Peking University and Chinese Academy of Sciences

In September, Professor Nikolaos Konstantinidis, Vice-Dean (International) for the UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences Faculty, headed a visit to China to meet some of the top academic institutions.

HYBRID image

UCL team one step closer to achieving quantum ground state

A team of scientists at UCL, led by Professor Peter Barker and Professor Tania Monteiro have taken another big step forward towards cooling a macroscopic object into the quantum regime. The team "levitated" silica particles of almost half a micrometre diameter in the light field of an optical cavity and succeeded in cooling them, using laser light by a factor of up to one hundred thousand, from room temperature. More...

A cell of the optical system, shipped recently from UCL to Fermilab

Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument enters construction phase

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) has recently received formal approval from the US Department of Energy to move forward to the construction phase. DESI is a 3-D sky mapping project and will measure spectra of 35 million galaxies to provide new clues about Dark Energy. Installation of the project is set to begin next year at the Mayall 4-meter telescope in Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona, with observations starting up in early-2019.


American Physical Society

UCL Academics elected Fellows of the American Physical Society

Professor Angelos Michaelides (UCL Physics & Astronomy, UCL London Centre for Nanotechnology) and Professor Hiranya Peiris (UCL Physics & Astronomy) have both been elected Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS). These elections were made by the APS Council of Representatives at its September meeting.

LCN celebrates ten years of big nano-achievements at UCL

LCN celebrates ten years of big nano-achievements at UCL

Researchers and collaborators recently celebrated the work of the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) at a symposium held in honour of the tenth anniversary of its opening.
The centre brings together scientists from UCL and Imperial College London to probe the natural world, and develop new technologies, at scales measured in billionths of a metre. The researchers are particularly focused on using nanotechnology to improve healthcare, information technology, energy and the environment. More...

Professor Claire Carmalt

Professor Claire Carmalt appointed as new Head of Department for Chemistry

The Faculty is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Claire Carmalt as the new Head of Department for UCL Chemistry. The appointment will be effective as of next academic year (2016-17). She will be the 18th Head of Department for Chemistry and the first woman appointed to the position.

Artist’s rendering of protein fibrils (in blue) and healthy proteins (in red) from computer simulations. Credit: Ivan Barun, dr. med.

Self-perpetuating plaque formation in Alzheimer’s

Using a combination of computer simulations and laboratory experiments, Dr Andela Saric (UCL Institute for the Physics of Living Systems, Department of Physics & Astronomy) and colleagues were able to identify the necessary requirements for the self-replication of protein fibrils. More...

Prof Ivan Parkin

New Dean of Mathematical & Physical Sciences appointed

he faculty is delighted to announce the appointment of Prof Ivan Parkin as the new Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The appointment will be effective as of next academic year (2016-17).

Bart Hoogenboom

UCL Academic awarded Royal Microscopical Society Medal

A new series of Medals was launched by Royal Microscopical Society in 2014 to coincide with its 175th anniversary. The series is designed to recognise and celebrate individuals who make outstanding contributions to the field of microscopy across both the life and physical sciences. Dr Bart Hoogenboom (UCL Physics & Astronomy and London Centre for Nanotechnology) has been awarded the RMS Medal for Scannng Probe Microscopy - for outstanding progress made in the field of scanning probe microscopy. More...

UCL Physicist receives 2016 award from Institute of Physics

UCL Physicist receives 2016 award from Institute of Physics

The Institute of Physics (IOP) has announced the winners of their medals and prizes for 2016, in recognition of outstanding work by physicists in research, leadership, outreach and engagement.

Orbyts Graduation Ceremony

Orbyts Graduation Ceremony

On the 11th July, there will be an official ORBYTS (Original Research By Young Twinkle Students) Closing Ceremony, where secondary school students will give presentations about their research in collaboration with UCL PhD students.

A neural network’s dream of Earth. Similar to RobERt dreaming of exoplanet spectra, this neural network (Gatys et al. 2015) was trained to dream in the style of a Monet painting.

Meet RobERt, the dreaming detective for exoplanet atmospheres

Machine-learning techniques that mimic human recognition and dreaming processes are being deployed in the search for habitable worlds beyond our solar system. A deep belief neural network, called RobERt (Robotic Exoplanet Recognition), has been developed by astronomers at UCL to sift through detections of light emanating from distant planetary systems and retrieve spectral information about the gases present in the exoplanet atmospheres. RobERt will be presented at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) 2016 in Nottingham by Dr Ingo Waldmann on Tuesday 28th June. More...

Ying Lia Li

UCL postgrad presents at quantum technology business forum

UCL postgraduate student Ying Lia Li (Lia) was one of five young scientists selected from applicants worldwide to present their projects at the recent Nature/Entrepreneur First Innovation Forum in Quantum Technologies.

UCL-led Twinkle exoplanet mission completes design milestone

UCL-led Twinkle exoplanet mission completes design milestone

Twinkle, a mission led by UCL scientists that will unravel the story of planets in our galaxy, has completed a key design milestone.  The results of the “payload study” demonstrate that Twinkle’s instruments will be able to achieve the mission’s science objectives. 

Phys FilmMakers Screening

UCL Physics and Astronomy to launch new PhysFilmMakers Programme

The Phys FilmMakers Programme is a new initiative to showcase the amazing discoveries and breakthroughs being made within UCL Physics and Astronomy.
While there are many visitors to the department, it is a struggle to show all of the research that takes place within it, due to health and safety risks or space limitations. More...

pg 	The UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Sciences: An Evening with the Planets 2016

The UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Sciences presents: An Evening with the Planets 2016

Join the UCL/Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Sciences for an open evening of presentations and discussion about the world-class planetary research going on at UCL and Birkbeck. More...

LSST Exterior at night - Todd Mason, Mason Productions Inc. / LSST Corporation

World-first film of the Universe

The Science and Technology Facilities Council confirmed the UK's participation in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) this week, an international project that UCL astronomers have been involved in since 2013.   More...

MAPS Faculty PhesDival - 15th June

MAPS Faculty PhesDival - 15th June

A celebration of research, for researchers.

On Wednesday 15th June from 5:30pm, PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and staff from across the faculty will come together in the Main Quad Pavilion to celebrate all things related to Maths and Physical Sciences.

Prof. Martin Rees delivers MAPS Colloquium

Prof. Martin Rees - Real and Counterfactual Universes

In his recent UCL Maths and Physical Sciences Colloquium, Prof. Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow) delivered a commanding history of our universe. In keeping with the title of his talk - Real and Counterfactual Universes - Prof. Rees described the hierarchal structure of our own universe.  More...

Ivan and Angelos

UCL scientists recognised with Royal Society of Chemistry prizes

Two UCL scientists, Professor Ivan Parkin (UCL Chemistry) and Professor Angelos Michaelides (UCL Physics & Astronomy), have been awarded two of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s top prizes in this year’s awards.

Two UCL Astrophysicists

Two UCL astrophysicists win Royal Astronomical Society awards

Two UCL astrophysicists, Dr Andrew Pontzen and the late Professor Bruce Swinyard (UCL Physics & Astronomy), have been recognised in this year’s Royal Astronomical Society awards. The announcements were made at the Ordinary Meeting of the society held on Friday 8 January 2016. The awards will be made formally at the Society's 2016 National Astronomy Meeting in June. More...


€4 million funding awarded to medical accelerators network

Cancer is a major health problem and it is the main cause of death between the ages of 45–65. Although significant progress has been made in the use of particle beams for cancer treatment, extensive research is still needed to maximise healthcare benefits. Improving ion beam therapy for enhanced cancer treatment is the goal of a new European research and training network that will focus on the Optimisation of Medical Accelerators (OMA).