Simon Cornish is a Professor and is the current Head of the Atomic and Molecular Physics Group in the Department of Physics at Durham University.
Simon was born in Chesterfield, a Derbyshire market town famous for the church with a crooked spire. Although much of his childhood was spent 'over the moor' in Darley Dale, he later returned to Chesterfield and attended the excellent, though sadly no more, Chesterfield School. Here he was fortunate to find an inspiring group of teachers who played a large part in his subsequent move to Oxford to read physics at Keble College. Graduating with first class honours in 1994, he remained in Oxford to study for a D.Phil. in Atomic and Laser Physics with PEG Baird and PGH Sandars. His thesis project (entitled "A solid state laser system for high resolution spectroscopy of the 1S-2S transition in muonium") formed part of an international collaboration using the muon facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
In 1998 he moved into the field of laser cooling and Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) working with Chris Foot in Oxford. Later that year he was awarded a Lindemann Fellowship to work with Carl Wieman on BEC at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) in Boulder, Colorado. During his two year stay in the United States, he helped develop the first experiment to condense 85Rb. This isotope has a broad Feshbach resonance permitting the precise control of the atomic interactions in a condensate. In several seminal experiments, he used the ability to manipulate the interactions to probe the collapse of a condensate (a process known fondly as the Bosenova!); research that was later cited in the award of the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics to Carl Wieman, Eric Cornell and Wolfgang Ketterle.
In 2001 he returned to Oxford to work with Chris Foot, where he supervised the development of an experiment to explore new regimes of evaporative cooling of caesium in a magnetic trap, with the hope of finding a route to BEC. Shortly after returning to Oxford he was appointed to a Junior Research Fellowship at Brasenose college. In October 2002 he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to pursue his interest in Feshbach resonances and their application to neutral atom quantum computation.
Simon moved to the University of Durham in January 2004, where he has established an experimental research group studying quantum degenerate gases. He was promoted to Reader in October 2008 and then to full Professor in October 2013. His current research interests span Bose-Einstein condensation and two-species quantum degenerate gases, ultracold atomic collisions and Feshbach resonances, ultracold molecules, bright matter-wave solitons, and the application of neutral atoms and molecules to quantum simulation and precision measurement.
Simon is Principal Investigator on a EPSRC Programme Grant investigating Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules, the goal of which is to achieve full quantum control of cold and ultracold molecules in order to advance the science of complex quantum systems and underpin new quantum technologies.
If you are interested in joining Simon's research group, then please don't hesitate to contact him.