In the final year, you will work on a range of activities, projects and presentations. You will also carry out a major research project, either involving consultancy work in industry or collaboration within one of the research groups.
After more than 200 hundred years of Newtonian gravity, Einstein revolutionised the way we view space and time. This module will introduce you to the key concepts and tools used to describe gravitational physics as set down in General Relativity.
- How geometry plays a central role in physical measurements
- How to compute the paths of objects in curved spacetime
- The spacetime geometry of black holes
This module will explain how the intrinsic spin of nuclei and electrons is exploited in magnetic resonance experiments. It will describe the classical and quantum pictures of the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and show why NMR forms such a powerful analytical tool, today. Basic electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) will also be described, along with the equipment used for NMR and EPR, and some applications of these techniques.
The Politics, Perception and Philosophy of Physics
In this module you'll gain an appreciation of the broad societal impact of physics (and science in general). You'll be introduced to the politics surrounding science policy (on, e.g., global warming/renewable energy R&D) and research funding. You'll also explorre some of the key ideas in the philosophy of physics and science, particularly as they relate to public perception of scientific research.
Imaging and Data Processing
Modern science is data rich. For example, it’s not uncommon for a single experiment to generate terabytes, or even petabytes of data. As scientists, one of the major challenges we face is to collapse these vast data archives into meaningful information that we can understand, and use to draw conclusions.
In this module, you will learn the critical mathematical techniques that are used to do this. We will cover techniques from simple image processing, all the way to advanced blind source separation and machine learning. You will then put these techniques into practice, in a data processing project that may range from satellite imaging to measuring the amount of information stored by the human brain.
Order, Disorder and Fluctuations
This module will develop the modern theoretical description of phase transitions and critical phenomena and provide an introduction to the dynamics of non-equilibrium systems. Topics to be covered will include:
• ordered phases of matter;
• order parameters;
• scaling behaviour at critical points;
• mean-field approaches;
• finite-size scaling;
• stochastic processes;
• Langevin dynamics and the Fokker-Planck equation.
Applications, both within and beyond, condensed matter physics will be discussed.
Electronic devices such as transistors and light emitting diodes are the basic building blocks of the technology that underpins all aspects of the modern world.
Previous modules on Solid State Physics and Semiconductor Physics should have given you a good understanding of how these devices work. The move to make these building blocks ever smaller leads us into regimes where we have to treat the quantum nature of electrons in solids much more seriously.
Research in this area has led to the development of entirely new types of electronic devices such as quantum well lasers. It has also uncovered entirely new physical phenomena like the quantum Hall effects. It is this new physics and its applications that is the topic of this module.
You will study:
- The quantum theory of electrical transport in solids – elastic and inelastic scattering, conductance quantization
- Quantum confinement – technology for producing 2d, 1d and 0d electronic systems
- Quantum interference phenomena – weak and strong localization, Aharonov Bohm effect
- Carbon Nanotubes and Graphene
- Quantum Dots – tunnelling, charging effects, optoelectronic applications
- Quantum Hall Effects and Topological Insulators.
Research Techniques in Astronomy
This module develops a range of modern astronomical techniques through student-centered approaches to topical research problems. You’ll cover a range of topics related to ongoing research in astronomy and astrophysics, and will encompass theoretical and observational approaches. This module is based on individual and group student-led activities involving the solution of topical problems including written reports and exercises, and a project.
Advanced Techniques for Nanoscience Research
The module provides a detailed presentation of advanced research topics in nanoscience. The focus is on analysis of experimental data (workshops), self-guided study of current literature (literature review) and developing an experimental proposal (group project).
- Atoms and molecules at surfaces: surfaces in ultra-high vacuum (UHV), characterisation of surfaces and molecules via scanning probe microscopy (SPM), diffusion at surfaces, on-surface synthesis.
- Near-field optics and optical spectroscopy: advanced optical microscopy, vibrational properties of molecules and nanomaterials, nearfield scanning probe optical microscopy.
- Magnetism at the Nanoscale: Magnetic ordering at the nanoscale, nanoscale magnetic imaging techniques and electrical control of magnetic order.
Quantum Coherent Devices
In earlier modules on quantum mechanics, the focus was mostly on individual quantum systems. In this module we will investigate quantum systems that can interact with each other. These will be solid-state devices in which the interactions and behaviours are engineered to create the desired properties. We will describe the theoretical and experimental techniques needed to create the solid-state devices that are now being used to make quantum computers and quantum sensors.
- Composite quantum systems – quantum systems that are coupled together
- Superconducting quantum devices and their use in quantum computers
- Nanoelectromechanical systems and NV- defects in diamond
- Experiments that probe the boundary between quantum and classical physics.
This module introduces you to the key ideas behind modern approaches to our understanding of the role of inflation in the early and late universe, in particular through the formation of structure, the generation of anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the origin of dark energy. You’ll study through a series of staff lectures and student-led workshops.
Light and Matter
This module will extend previous work in the areas of atomic and optical physics to cover modern topics in the area of quantum effects in light-matter interactions. Some basic material will be introduced in six staff-led seminars and you’ll have around two hours of lectures and student-led workshops each week.
Modern Applications of Physics
This module will give you insights into how physics is applied in a range of academic and industrial environments including research to advance knowledge, product development and problem-solving.
How is physics used in the real world? This module will give you insights into how physics is applied in a range of academic and industrial environments including research to advance knowledge, product development and problem-solving.
- knowledge of the areas of research conducted in the School of Physics and Astronomy and their applications.
- insights into how physicists work in industry from presentations given by invited speakers from companies and national facilities
- experience of working in a team in which you will use the skills you have gained to solve problems such as those faced in industry.