8th Bangalore India Nano Conference, March 2016 – Registrations Open

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STEM career hero: ‘Nanotechnology is tiny, but its potential is huge’

Woman stands in amongst machinery

Passion is key: getting to grips with a subject takes more than just intelligence

The University of Cambridge’s Prof Judith Driscoll on her big breakthroughs, and why being an academic is a bit like running a business

Judith Driscoll, 49, is professor of materials science at the University of Cambridge and an expert on nanotechnology. She read materials science at Imperial College London, followed by a PhD in superconductivity at Cambridge and post-doctoral research at Stanford University, California and IBM Almaden Research Centre.

I’m always surprised more people don’t study materials science. It’s broad and creative and so important to our everyday lives. I loved physics, chemistry and maths at school and hit on materials science as a great way of continuing with them.

I looked at jobs in industry but research seemed so much more exciting. High-temperature superconductivity was the new thing in the late 1980s so I chose a PhD in that.

Studying for a PhD was tough. It’s completely different from a first degree. Intelligence isn’t enough. You have to be creative, have your own ideas, cope with setbacks and work largely unaided. But it is a great way of finding out whether a career in research is right for you.

The research for which I’m most famous happened on sabbatical. After eight years mostly spent teaching, doing admin and raising money I really wanted to get back into the lab, so I went to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to work on a new idea I had to combine superconductivity and nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is unbelievably small. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre, roughly the length a human hair grows in the time it takes to pick up a razor.

Nanotechnology lets you create substances as small as one molecule thick, giving enormous surface area for speeding up chemical reactions. You can also miniaturise computer components, potentially storing a terabyte of data per square inch.

And you can achieve quantum confinement, where particles are so small that electrons behave differently from normal, enabling new optical, electrical and magnetic properties to be realised.

My big breakthrough concerned the creation of “perfect” defects in very thin films of superconductors. My brainwave was to create nanoparticles within a thin film superconductor using a different material that I knew the superconductor wouldn’t react with.

It worked right away, achieving very much higher currents in the superconductor and opening up a whole new world of applications in power transmission, conversion and storage, and in high-power magnets for important science experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider and fusion research.

Nanotechnology may be tiny but its potential is huge. It could give us much more efficient solar power, better storage of renewable energy, cancer-killing drugs delivered to just the right cells in the body, biotechnology to clean polluted environments, even molecular-scale robots called nanobots.

My latest research involves making new kinds of composite thin films that mimic how the brain works.

Being a senior academic is rather like running a small business. Your “product” is your research output and you have to raise funding, manage the lab and the people, supervise the work and “market” your work to other academics.

The wonderful thing about my job is the freedom. In my research nobody tells me what to do or when, and when my daughters were young I was able to work very flexibly.

You need to be really passionate to succeed in science. If you’re not the type to give up your weekend to really understand something then you’re probably not cut out for it.
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STEM Awards 2016
Change your future. Improve the world

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Are you a STEM student with dynamic ideas, ambition and the determination to make a difference in the world? If so, the STEM Awards 2016 is a unique opportunity to prove your talent to some of the biggest names in the industry – and put yourself in the running to win £25,000. Visit the homepage for more information:

www.telegraph.co.uk/stemawards

Temporary Scientist position in Lund University, Sweden – PhD must, Python knowledge must

Lund University, ,

Lund University was founded in 1666 and for a number of years has been ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has 42 000 students and more than 7 500 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

MAX IV Laboratory has operated successfully for almost 30 years and is currently completing the new MAX IV synchrotron facility in Lund.
More than 1000 scientists from Sweden and the rest of the world are coming to the MAX IV Laboratory every year to use the x-rays produced by our electron accelerators. They do research in areas such as materials science, structural biology, chemistry, and nanotechnology. 190 people are currently employed at the MAX IV Laboratory. MAX IV is the largest and most ambitious Swedish investment in national research infrastructure. It will be the brightest source of x-rays worldwide when inaugurated June 2016 and will replace the existing laboratory, which today consists of the storage ring MAX I, II and III. MAX IV Laboratory is hosted by Lund University.

NanoMAX – the hard x-ray nanoprobe beamline of MAX IV will fully exploit the exceptionally low emittance, high brilliance and coherence properties of the X-ray source to produce tightly focused and coherent beams. The beamline will feature two experimental stations, one providing beam down to 10 nm size in vacuum environment, the other providing high flux nanobeams in the 100-200 nm size range and compatible with flexible sample environment.

The beamline is currently under construction. The installation of the experimental stations and the commissioning of the beamline will take place during 2016. The beamline is expected to get first users in 2017. Once operational at its full capabilities, the beamline will enable nm- resolution imaging applications in diverse fields ranging from nano-science to environmental and life science, exploiting (coherent) scattering contrast, fluorescence and absorption.

The implementation and the development of analysis tools for coherent diffraction data is an essential part of the work needed to prepare the beamline towards this goal. Within this scope, we are now seeking to hire a Scientist with a background in (coherent) X-ray diffraction and/or imaging techniques and experience in programming. The successful candidate will join the NanoMAX team with the main task of implementing and developing imaging reconstruction software. She/he will test the developed routines on the first data acquired at NanoMAX and will support the beamline initial users. This work will be done in close interaction with the IT group of MAX IV and within international collaborations, including other synchrotron facilities.

Tasks
• You will adapt and enable existing software for coherent x-rays diffraction data analysis for the use at NanoMAX, in close collaboration with MAX IV’s IT group.
• You will develop software for data analysis, following MAX IV’s programming standards, if suitable codes do not exist.
• You will perform coherent diffraction imaging experiments at NanoMAX and at other facilities.
• You will participate to the commissioning and operation of the beamline and provide support to external users during operation.

Qualifications
• You hold a PhD in natural sciences in subjects of relevance for NanoMAX.
• You have good knowledge in x-ray diffraction and/or imaging methods.
• You have experience in writing data analysis codes and/or programming in different computer languages.
• You have a demonstrated ability to work independently.
• You have good command of English, good communication and team working skills.

The following qualifications are considered an asset:
• Experience with coherent diffraction imaging methods.
• Experience in writing scientific software, particularly in Python.
• Experience with hardware programming and/or interfacing.
• Experience with the use of nanobeams and/or of other x-ray based techniques of relevance for NanoMAX.

The University has individual salary. Please state requested salary in your application.

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Working hours Full time
First day of employment As soon as possible
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100 %
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2016/22
Contact
  • Gerardina Carbone, Scientist, +46 725217333
  • Ulf Johansson, Scientist, + 46 709997948
Union representative
  • OFR/S:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-222 93 62, st@st.lu.se
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds , 046-222 93 64, kansli@saco-s.lu.se
Published 12.Jan.2016
Last application date 11.Feb.2016 11:59 PM CET

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Lunds universitet is using the recruitment system MyNetwork in the recruitment process.