2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The School of Physics and Astronomy has strongly contributed to the excellent results obtained in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) by QMUL, which has been ranked 9th among multi-faculty institutions in the UK. The School's Grade Point Average (GPA) of Physics research outputs (publications) are ranked joint first (with Imperial College) in London, 10th in the Russell Group and 14th in the UK (out of 41) hence cementing ourselves as among the very best Physics Departments in the UK.

These results are based on the research performed by the Astronomy Unit, Centre for Research in String Theory and the Particle Physics Research Centre. Research from the Centre for Condensed Matter and Materials Physics was submitted as Materials where QMUL was ranked 12th (out of 37) in the UK. This confirms the strength of physics research across all our fields.

Linking atomic structure and light emission in quantum dots

Semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are objects on the scale of nanometers that are small enough to exhibit quantum mechanical effects and their current and potential applications range from quantum computers to biological imaging. Electronic and optical properties of these systems are drastically different from those observed in the bulk form and depend strongly on the size, shape and surface conditions. For semiconductors these differences can be explained in terms of the quantum confinement effect - a condition where the geometric size decisively affects a variety of physical properties. The concept of quantum confinement is elegant, but is not easy to probe directly in many realistic experimental cases due to the difficulties in observing QDs in an idealised state that can be readily compared with a corresponding theoretical or a computational model.


Abstract : Some 40 years ago Hawking found a remarkable contradiction: if we accept the standard behavior of gravity in regions of low curvature, then the evolution of black holes will violate quantum mechanics. Resolving this paradox would require a basic change in our understanding of spacetime and/or quantum theory. In recent years the paradox has found an interesting resolution through string theory. While quantum gravity is normally expected to be important only at distances of order planck length, the situation changes when a large number N of particles are involved, as for instance in the situation where we make a large black hole. Then the length scale of quantum gravity effects grows with N, altering the black hole structure to a "fuzzball"; this effect resolves the paradox.

Speaker : Prof. Samir Mathur, Ohio State University. 

In a lower dimension: Could the world be simpler than our senses suggest?

In a lower dimension: Could the world be simpler than our senses suggest?

What if I told you that the world was two-dimensional? In a way that should surprise you more than if I told you it was ten-dimensional. We're all quite happy to accept that the world might be more complicated than our senses suggest — but could it be simpler? It's a possibility that Sanjaye Ramgoolam of Queen Mary, University of London, is exploring: he is developing a two-dimensional description of the world. So far the theory only applies to a toy Universe, but his results may one day give us important insights into the real world.

Astrophysics in Antarctica - Extreme Environment for Extreme Discoveries

Astrophysics in Antarctica - Extreme Environment for Extreme Discoveries

Antarctica has always been a fascinating place for us. Especially as the extreme environment of Antarctica is suitable for extreme science, such as neutrino and cosmic microwave background measurements. Queen Mary are hosting leading scientists from the UK who are working on astrophysics research on Antarctica. They will share their stories of extraordinary science and extraordinary discoveries!

New Projects for Extrasolar Planet Mission

On the 4th and 5th of September, Queen Mary University of London will host a workshop to shape the objectives of the European Space Agency (ESA) PLATO mission.

The PLATO mission, which aims to survey up to a million nearby stars for signs of planetary systems, is due to launch in 2024. This week's workshop will bring together experts in planetary formation theory, planetary system dynamics and planetary interiors to discuss possible projects for inclusion in the mission's Exoplanet Science workpackage.

The ESA website details how PLATO will monitor relatively nearby stars, searching for tiny, regular dips in brightness as their planets transit in front of them, temporarily blocking out a small fraction of the starlight.

Further reading

National Student Survey Results 2014

Physics and Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London is ranked joint 1st in London with an overall student satisfaction rate of 94 per cent, according to the latest results of a nationwide poll of final-year undergraduates.

The 2014 National Student Survey (NSS) questioned UK undergraduates on various aspects of their student experience, including their overall satisfaction.

Students on the BSc Physics programme expressed a satisfaction rate of 100% with their overall experience of physics at Queen Mary with a 90% satisfaction score for teaching.  Our students are amongst the most satisfied in the Russell Group with satisfaction rates in the top quartile for all physics programmes. 

The Science of Slow

Bitumen experiment at QMUL

Dr Kostya Trachenko is interviewed by the BBC and appears on the BBC News Website discussing his experiment with bitumen.  Dr Trachenko set up the experiment together with our undergraduate students, placing bitumen in five separate funnels with different sized openings. 

Bitumen is a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum.  It behaves as a liquid when hot but at room temperature it can be shattered with a hammer.  The experiment examines the flow of the bitumen as it drips through the openings, despite appearing to be solid at room temperature.