I grew up in Peterlee, not far from Durham, where I attended St. Bede's comprehensive school and later Byron 6th Form (at St. Bede's). I started my undergraduate degree in Durham back in 2005, and have been here ever since! My 4th year masters project was a computational theory project supervised by Prof. Stewart Clark, working with density functional perturbation theory to calculate bulk properties including phase transitions from first principles. I realised I wanted to do something more hands-on, and so I started my PhD, an experimental project, in October 2009.
I work with my supervisor Prof Charles Adams and post-doc Ulrich Krohn. We investigate the fundamental physics of atom-light interactions in an extremely high density (for atomic gases!) regime using thermal vapours of rubidium (Rb). Under these conditions, interactions between atoms and surfaces, or interactions between two identical atoms become dominant.
To investigate these effects, we confine our atoms in extremely thin vapour cells, thanks to a fruitful collaboration with the group of David Sarkisyan, based at the Institute for Physical Research, Armenia. The thickness of these cells is typically much less than the wavelength of our laser light (780 to 795 nm), down to as little as 30 nm, and their construction allows the local thickness to be tuned over a wide range with very high accuracy.
The confinement introduces many effects not seen in conventional (cm thickness) cells, most notably Dicke Narrowing of the atomic spectral lines, and allows us to investigate the atom-surface interaction of low lying atomic states over distances of tens of nanometres.
Check out our main research page here.