Top physics medals for University scientists

Physics Medals
01 Jul 2013 10:00:00.000

Two physicists from The University of Nottingham have won prestigious medals from the Institute of Physics (IOP) for their world-leading work in two fascinating areas. 

A range of awards are given annually to physicists by the IOP in recognition of ground-breaking research and impact in the diverse fields of physics. 

This year researchers in the University’s School of Physics have scooped two awards, for distinguished research in theoretical physics and in experimental nanoscale physics.

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Pivotal physics

Professor Ed Copeland wins the Rayleigh Medal and prize for his work on particle/string cosmology from the evolution of cosmic superstrings, to the determination of the nature of inflation in string cosmology and to constraining dynamical models of dark energy and modified gravity. Ed has made pivotal contributions to the field of particle cosmology. He leads the quest to obtain successful particle physics-inspired models of inflation, to predict the properties of cosmic strings, and to determine the nature of dark energy. 

Awarding the medal, a statement from the Institute of Physics said: “Professor Copeland works at the junction between fundamental physics and cosmological observation. He has made contributions in three areas: inflationary models, cosmic strings and superstrings, and dark energy phenomenology. Copeland's work spurred the resurgence of interest cosmic strings as a signature of superstring theory. In particular, he observed that superstring theories often contain multiple kinds of string, as well as junctions between them, and so lead to distinctive network properties and signatures. If cosmic strings are discovered, this idea will be influential in determining their microscopic nature.

“He also has a large body of work on the construction of inflationary models, using dynamical ingredients motivated by string theory. His early work on two-field models of inflation has been highly influential, in addition to many other significant works.”

Influence in the field

Professor Peter Beton wins the Tabor medal and prize for his pioneering work on the organisation and manipulation of molecules on surfaces, particularly in relation to molecular rolling, the formation of nanoporous templates and entropically stabilised molecular tilings. The Institute commented:

“Professor Beton has used scanning tunnelling microscopy to study the adsorption of organic molecules, with particular emphasis on the influence of non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding on ordering of molecular arrays. His demonstration, with Nottingham chemists, that a honeycomb lattice can be used as a self-assembled nanoporous template, has greatly influenced the field stimulating studies in laboratories worldwide. Beton extended this work to the formation of hydrogen-bonded templates on graphene grown by chemical vapour deposition and demonstrated the formation of more robust templates stabilised by covalent bonds. These covalent templates provide a new class of two-dimensional polymers which may be considered as graphene analogues.

Beton pioneered the use of two-dimensional nanoscale molecular arrays to study disordered systems and glasses. A key result was identifying a molecular array which can be mapped onto a random rhombus tiling, realising experimentally a system which had been studied theoretically for over 40 years, providing an example of entropically-stabilised structures. This system has now been used to template the reversible growth of a multilayer self-assembled system. In a recent collaboration with Oxford chemists the lengths, flexibility and stacking of cyclic porphyrin polymers has been studied, demonstrating a link between supramolecular organisation and mechanical stiffening.” 

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Ed Copeland on +44 (0)115 951 5164 , Professor Peter Beton +44 (0)115 951 5129  

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