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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

Work Experience Week

6 July 2016

The School recently hosted a Work Experience Week where 20 Year 12 students experienced what it is like to work in a research-intensive university

With so many requests from students seeking work experience throughout the year, the School of Physics and Astronomy dedicated a full week for twenty Year 12 students to join us and learn what it’s like to work in a research-intensive university. 

Throughout the inaugural work experience week from 18 to 22 July,  the Year 12 students experienced the inside workings of the School of Physics and Astronomy, meeting with academics and current postgraduate students to learn about their research carried out within the School.    

The purpose of the Work Experience Week was for our participants to gain skills in research, problem solving and collaborative group work - all within a real, working academic setting.  On Friday 22 July, they presented their own conference-style research posters to their peers, external guests, staff and students at our Showcase Event.     

To learn more about the Work Experience Week and next year’s application information, please visit      

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