LCN researchers awarded Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award

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LCN researchers Professors Steven Bramwell and Rachel McKendry have each been awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

These awards, jointly funded by the Wolfson Foundation and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), aim to provide universities with additional support to enable them to retain respected UK scientists of outstanding achievement and potential.

Professor Rachel McKendry receives her award for her work on mobile technologies for global health and infectious diseases.

Rachel McKendry is Director of the new £11M EPSRC IRC in Early Warning Sensing Systems for Infectious Diseases (i-sense) and holds a joint position between the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Division of Medicine UCL. Her research spans from unravelling the molecular mechanisms of antibiotics against MRSA (Nature Nanotechnology 2008, 2013 and 2014), to developing a smart phone-connected diagnostic test for HIV and an early warning sensing system for infectious diseases using self-reported symptoms on social media and search engines linked to mobile phone connected diagnostic tests.

Professor Bramwell receives his award for his work on spin ice and magnetricity. 

Steve Bramwell is well known for his discovery and naming (along with Dr. Mark Harris) of the unusual magnetic material “spin ice”. Since their original 1997 discovery, spin ice in different forms has become a major subject of physics and nanotechnology research worldwide. In 2005-9 several groups around the world discovered magnetic monopoles in spin ice, and the associated magnetic equivalent of electricity, or “magnetricity”. Professor Bramwell was closely involved in these developments.

In recent work, Professor Bramwell and collaborators have explored breakdowns of Ohm’s law in magnetricity and analogous electrical flow, the Brownian motion of magnetic monopoles, magnetic monopoles far from equilibrium and spin ice thin films for potential applications.

The Wolfson Research Merit Award will enable Professor Bramwell to continue this important and long running research theme that he initiated in 1997.  The first aim of his project is to completely establish the physics of magnetricity in spin ice: how the magnetic monopoles form currents, how accurately Ohm's law is obeyed, and so on. The second aim is to find ways of exploiting magnetricity: how it can be linked to electrical currents, beams of light or the flow of heat.  Such work will typically utilise spin ice in thin film form, as the flat surfaces of films allow them to be shaped and allow other materials to be placed on top of them. 

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