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Scientist shares multi-million pound award

A new generation of faster, more efficient electronics and computers than those using today’s silicon-based technologies could be the end result of a collaborative research project involving the University of St Andrews.

A team led by six senior physicists from Bristol, Cambridge and St Andrews has been awarded a £3 million grant for collaborative research into exotic new materials.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council partnership, which will run initially for five years, will cement the strong UK presence in this field, in which it has a number of world-leading groups.

The St Andrews awardee is Professor Andy Mackenzie, whose group will receive approximately £700K for their experimental research. In addition, he will direct the Partnership’s Outreach programme, which has an additional budget of £100K.

He said, “The award of this funding is great news for all concerned. It will give our work a stable base for the medium-term future, and allow us to develop a pan-UK collaboration that will be a major player on the world stage. We will be able both to establish UK-led teams at major international facilities such as the US National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and to host workshops and conferences here in the UK that will be attended by leading figures from across the world. From a local, Scottish perspective, it will also establish strong links between the newly-formed Scottish Universities Physics Alliance and two of the top English Physics departments”.

The main research interest of the new Partnership concerns new materials, most discovered only in the past decade, which may form the basis of electronics technologies of the future. If their properties can be understood and then harnessed, they have the potential to give us faster, more efficient electronics and computers than those using today’s silicon-based technologies. This goal is both ambitious and long- term. Assessing its viability requires the kind of ‘blue-sky’, curiosity-driven research that the Partnership will perform.

The second key motivation for the work is to improve our understanding of large, complex systems of interacting objects. There are scientific and mathematical analogies between the behaviour of interacting electrons in solids and a huge range of other complex systems such as patterns of galaxies, proteins and other large molecules in cells and behaviour in large-scale societies. Electrons in solids have the key advantage that precise, controlled experiments can give us vital information about the processes of self- organisation that occur in such systems.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk; Ref: press releases/andymackenzie View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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