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Solar energy

Our Department of Mathematical Sciences has been conducting pioneering and world-leading research with a strong impact.

Re-defining X-ray technology

Our statisticians have worked with industry to achieve superior quality X-ray images to support better diagnosis of patients.

Collaborating with technology firm IBEX, Durham’s experts used their statistical skills to further develop X-ray scanning technology so it can differentiate more clearly between different materials.

Our experts used statistical analysis methods to extract material information from IBEX’s patented multi absorption plate (MAP) technology and applied this to the analysis of complex computer models.

By adding multi-spectral information, which measures light in a small number of spectral bands or colours, into the X-ray image they were able to differentiate materials at any thickness and greatly enhance the application of the MAP.

Our academics have also supported IBEX with the development of its Trueview® product, to reduce the scattering of X-rays and improve image detail significantly. This has helped to improve diagnosis using medical X-ray images.

The project has raised over £6 million in funding for product development and created 14 jobs in the North East of England.

Unravelling the Sun’s knotty problem

Our mathematicians are helping to unravel the knotty problem of how solar energy is injected into the Sun’s atmosphere before being released into space.

The release of this energy causes space weather events and scientists have long debated how this happens.

Now a team of researchers has devised a new approach to analysing how the magnetic tangles of the Sun develop.

Their research indicates that pre-twisted magnetic fields rise up from the Sun’s convection zone, which could lead to events such as solar flares.

The team came up with a new way to exactly measure the entanglement of the magnetic field. They tracked the rotation of field lines at the points where they intersect with the photosphere – called magnetic winding.

The researchers studied the magnetic winding for ten active regions of the Sun. In every case, the results matched the theory of pre-twisted magnetic field lines rising up from the convection zone.

The team now hopes that magnetic winding will be used by scientists to interpret the Sun’s magnetic field structure seen in their observations.

Find out more

Our Department of Mathematical Sciences combines world-leading research with a dedication to the learning experience of our students. Ranked 4th in the UK in The Complete University Guide 2023, we offer a unique blend of high-quality teaching and research across a wide range of disciplines and provide practical experience to support future careers and employment prospects.

Feeling inspired? Visit our Mathematical Sciences webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.

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