I am a Professor of Metrology at the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, at the University of Nottingham. My research interests are to investigate new optical techniques and systems for 3D precision measurements.
I am a physicist with a successful history of prestigious awards, including a Marie Curie IEF Fellowship and my just ended Nottingham Advance Research Fellowship, and with a strong record of leading contributions to several forefront areas of experimental condensed matter physics, materials science, atomic and optical physics, metrology and nanoscience.
I received my PhD in 2007 under the joint supervision of Prof AM Cucolo at Salerno (Italy) and Prof MG Blamire at Cambridge (UK), with a dissertation entitled: "Andreev reflections and transport phenomena in superconductors at the interface with ferromagnets and normal metals". I was investigating the symmetry of the order parameter in unconventional and high temperature superconductors with point contact Andreev Reflection techniques. During my visit at Cambridge (Nov 05-Oct 06), I fabricated and characterised strongly ferromagnetic Josephson junctions, useful for applications to spintronics and quantum computing. Results from this last topic [Phys.Rev.Lett. 97, 177003 (2006)] have attracted more than 100 citations.
Then, I expanded my research activity in this field by investigating ferromagnetic semiconductor materials. In fact, in 2009 I was awarded a Marie Curie IEF Fellowship (score: 97/100) by the European Commission, hosted by the Semiconductor Spintronics Group (Prof B Gallagher) at the University of Nottingham. During my Fellowship I provided the first accurate measurement of the spin polarisation of the ferromagnetic semiconductor (Ga,Mn)As by combining scanning probe microscopy experiments (in a setup which I built at Nottingham) with a new theoretical modelling developed in collaboration with Prof M Eschrig, now at Royal Holloway London [Phys.Rev.B 83, 081305(Rapid) (2011)]. I also carried out the first detailed surface analysis of (Ga,Mn)As by atomic force microscopy, revealing the presence of self-organised periodic ripples. In collaboration with Prof V Holy at Prague, I unveiled a correlation between these structures and the uniaxial magnetic anisotropy, which had been observed in (Ga,Mn)As since a decade without a satisfactory microscopic explanation. This result has been praised as a potential cornerstone for the field [Appl.Phys.Lett. 98, 152503 (2011)]. Moreover, in collaboration with Prof J. Fontcuberta I have carried out a detailed studied of spin filter efficiency in ferrimagnetic materials.
Then, in 2011 I won a prestigious Nottingham Advance Research Fellowship (only 5 awarded yearly in the whole University of Nottingham) with an original project aimed at developing probes for high-sensitive magnetometry using ultracold atoms. This included the design and construction of a whole new laboratory at Nottingham, which I have led and am now completing in collaboration with my fellow colleagues at the Midlands Ultracold Atoms Research Centre. I have obtained the magneto-optical trapping of 87Rb atoms by using two sets of overlapping laser beams. With a dual colour magneto-optical trapping I have observed a doubling in the number of trapped atoms, demonstrating that this technique is very useful in experiments where both high vacuum level and large atom number are required [paper in preparation].
As a post-doc research fellow in the ultra-cold atom group, I worked on the investigation of ways to couple cold and ultra-cold atoms to photons delivered through a waveguide. Our goal was to realise a complex hybrid light-matter network for quantum information processing based on integrated chip devices. In principle such a light-and-matter interface can act as a building block for photon storage, optical switching or quantum computational tasks. The waveguides are written by short laser pulses into normal glass, which locally changes the refractive index.
I also worked as a part-time teaching associate at the University of Nottingham, organising and coordinating the second year workshops for all the undergraduate courses at the School of Physics and Astronomy.