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Durham University

Condensed Matter Physics

Research Highlights

The Living Shoe: Utilising microbes to create living materials, a new design principle for conferring structure and motility in biohybrid systems.

Dr Margarita Staykova from the Centre for Materials Physics has teamed up with Durham University sociologist Professor Tiago Moreira to discover some of the science and ethics of using microbes to create materials. Living materials are fabrics, paints and even building materials made with living cells. Would you wear a living shoe that you never had to throw away? Imagine a future where roads can self-heal, tiny robotic molecules can assemble themselves into household objects, and living buildings can harvest carbon dioxide to generate power and purified water. Would we be able to control how the cells evolved? Or, would we have to form symbiotic relationships with living materials similar to the relationships we had with working animals in the past?

(1 Nov 2022) » More about The Living Shoe: Utilising microbes to create living materials, a new design principle for conferring structure and motility in biohybrid systems.


Durham research highlighted by U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory

Collaborative international research on spin transport aimed at energy efficient spintronics led by Condensed Matter Physics at Durham has been recognised as a Science Highlight for work involving X-ray experiments at the Advanced Photon Source synchrotron facility.

(23 Jun 2022) » More about Durham research highlighted by U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory


CMP PhD students win two Department of Physics Postgraduate Awards

We are pleased to announce that two Condensed Matter Physics postgraduates have won Physics Postgraduate Prizes this year. Congratulations to Alina Talmantaite, who has won the Graham Russell Prize, awarded for outstanding overall performance in applied Physics, and congratulations to Thomas Hicken who has won the Alan Martin PhD Prize, recognising the best Ph.D. thesis in Physics.

(24 May 2022)


Mystery over unusual topological magnets explained

The low temperature electronic and magnetic behaviour of materials hosting a topological magnetic state known as a soliton has been explained by Durham scientists, with the help of muon-spin spectroscopy experiments made at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source.

(3 Mar 2022) » More about Mystery over unusual topological magnets explained


Muons found to be faithful probes of exotic superconductors

Researchers in the Centre for Materials Physics have demonstrated that spontaneous magnetic fields, detected by implanting sub-atomic muons in superconducting materials, are likely to be intrinsic to an exotic, time-reversal symmetry broken, superconducting state.

(7 Feb 2022) » More about Muons found to be faithful probes of exotic superconductors


Prof Tom Lancaster co-writes new textbook, 'Muon Spectroscopy: An Introduction', published by Oxford University Press

Durham Physics Department's Prof Tom Lancaster is one of the authors of a new textbook on Muon Spectroscopy, which has just been published by Oxford University Press.

(10 Nov 2021) » More about Prof Tom Lancaster co-writes new textbook on Muons


The Skyrmion Project

The Skyrmion Project is a world-leading experimental collaboration between scientists at Durham, Warwick, Cambridge, Southampton and Oxford Universities, undertaking internationally competitive research.

(4 Aug 2020) » More about The Skyrmion Project


Latest insights into developments in the thermally-activated delayed fluorescence field by researchers in OEM

In this review paper Paloma Lays dos Santos, Marc Etherington and Andy Monkman describe how thermally-activated delayed fluorescence can be tuned and controlled by chemical and conformational means; paving the way to new design principles.

(26 Apr 2018) » More about New review paper by OEM group


Kinetic Transition Networks for the Thomson Problem and Smale’s Seventh Problem

Steve Smale, a renowned Fields medalist, listed 18 problems in mathematics and computer science for the 21st century. The 7th problem in Smale's list is how to choose configurations as close as possible to the lowest energy state for particles with equal charges that are confined to the surface of a sphere.

(18 Jul 2016) » More about Kinetic Transition Networks for the Thomson Problem and Smale’s Seventh Problem


Elasticity Dominated Surface Segregation of Small Molecules in Polymer Mixtures

Published in Phys. Rev. Lett. 116:208301 (2016).

This paper springs from the Durham-Procter and Gamble research partnership, and is a good illustration of how industrial collaborations can frequently lead to fundamental new science.

(19 May 2016) » More about Elasticity Dominated Surface Segregation of Small Molecules in Polymer Mixtures


Active Viscoelastic Matter: From Bacterial Drag Reduction to Turbulent Solids

The figure shows a snapshot of active turbulence.

Published in Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 098302 (2015)

There has been much recent interest in so called 'active matter', i.e., materials that are capable of powering themselves through a fluid using an internal fuel supply. Examples include shoals of fish, suspensions of swarming bacteria, or cell extracts that comprise of groups of molecular motors and long filaments.

(18 Jan 2016) » More about Active Matter


Another dimension: designing magnets to explore fundamental physics

Published in Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 207201 (2014)

A collaboration of scientists from the UK, Germany and the US have revealed the possibility of manipulating the number of dimensions of a material, in research published this week in Physical Review Letters. The work shows how it is possible to design magnetic materials which act as if they are made from two dimensional planes, one-dimensional chains or even zero-dimensional points. By making magnetic materials out of molecular building blocks - effectively nanoscale LEGO - the researchers have shown that it is possible to tune the number of dimensions of a system and that this strongly affects the properties of the materials.

(30 Apr 2014) » More about Designer Magnets