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School of Physics and Astronomy joins the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy

10 November 2016

The White Rose Industrial Physics Academy (WRIPA) led by the Universities of York and Sheffield was established to increase awareness of technical career opportunities for Physicists and to help students prepare for success in finding placements and graduate jobs. We are excited to announce that the University of Leeds has officially joined the WRIPA, and has been awarded a £30k grant to develop activities for Physics students to enhance their employability.

WRIPA organises collaborations between companies and physics students from the universities of York, Sheffield, Hull, Nottingham and Leeds. One such example is the massively successful Physics Futures Careers Fair that was hosted by WRIPA at the University of York with over 30 employers and a number of panel discussions. All employers had year-long placements and/or graduate jobs on offer, specifically for Physicists.  Over 600 students attended the event, with over 100 students from Leeds attending. Students said of the event, "It really opened my eyes to the possible career options where I can use my Physics. It gave me some new ideas for what I might do when I graduate."

The WRIPA team at the University of Leeds are Samantha Pugh, Annmarie Rye and Alison Voice, with the support of the Head of School, Helen Gleeson. The team are working with WRIPA on delivering more industrial speakers, possible site visits and an increase in the number of industrial research projects for undergraduates. There is also extensive sharing of careers and professional development resources across the network, bringing benefits to all students. It is hoped that WRIPA will go some way to addressing the National STEM skills shortage by encouraging more graduates to stay in the technical sector upon graduation. Raising awareness and working with employers on skills development will certainly be a step in the right direction.

School welcomes new Visiting Professor

24 October 2016

Prof Alan Soper FRS, an internationally leading scientist in liquid structure and neutron diffraction, has joined the School of Physics and Astronomy as Visiting Professor.

The School is very happy to welcome Prof Soper, the world expert in the structure of water and water-based solutions at the molecular level. Using experimental techniques such as neutron and x-ray diffraction, combined with computational modelling, he has investigated the structure of water molecules and their interaction with other molecules. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014 in recognition of his contributions to science.

Prof Soper will join the vibrant research activity in the School of Physics and Astronomy as well as enjoying opportunities to engage with undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Widmer Best Poster Award

18 October 2016

Congratulations to Adam Churchman for winning the Widmer Best Poster Award at this year's MicroTAS Conference out of 721 entries and making it a first win for the UK.

Efficiently simulating many-body localisation

14 October 2016

Dr Zlatko Papic's paper has just been published in Physical Review Letters.

The amount of quantum entanglement in a many-body wave function determines whether it can be efficiently compressed and encoded by a small number of classical parameters. Ground states of many-body systems are known to have low entanglement, and can be efficiently simulated by the so-called "matrix product states" -- the property which underlies the success of the density-matrix renormalisation group.

In this Letter, we characterise the entanglement of highly excited states in many-body localised (MBL) systems by studying its "entanglement spectrum". MBL phases have been a subject of much recent interest as phases of matter that break ergodicity and thus avoid thermalisation. We argue that the entanglement structure of MBL states, while different from ground states, still allows for compact parametrisation by matrix product states. We develop an efficient algorithm to obtain highly excited states of large MBL systems. This work opens a door for studying a broad class of disordered quantum systems, inaccessible by other techniques. We expect that the new algorithm will also give a much-needed insight into the nature of the transition between MBL and ergodic (thermal) phases.

Read the full article here:

PHOTON16 Conference

22 September 2016

The University of Leeds hosted the largest Optics and Photonics conference in the UK. PHOTON16 is the eighth in a series of biennial conferences that started in 2002. This year, we welcomed more than 400 participants from 26 countries.

Scientific sessions were complemented by a technical exhibition with 37 companies presenting their products. We were especially pleased to welcome seven world renowned plenary speakers to the conference.

The PHOTON series brings together wide areas of light related science and technology that represent the strength and breadth of activity in the UK and elsewhere in the world. Our scientific presentations encompassed the classical and quantum nature of light and covered applications ranging from bio-photonics, through metrology to ultrafast optics.

During the conference, several honours and prizes were announced. For example our very own Helen Gleeson (Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy in Leeds) was invited to present the Rank Prize Funds Lecture (see picture).

This PHOTON conference was organised on behalf of the Institute of Physics, especially the Optical Group, the Quantum Electronics and Photonics (QEP) Group, the Quantum Optics, Quantum Information and Quantum Control (QQQ) Group, the Instrument Science and Technology (ISAT) Group, the Computational Physics Group and the Environmental Physics Group. Our current programme builds upon a long history of meetings and conferences organised by the groups. These stretch long before the first PHOTON conference, which was held in Cardiff in 2002.

More information can be found at

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