Physics Research

Physics staff lead the various research groups within the University's Materials & Physics Research Centre.

Our Research Centre provides a fertile environment for a wide range of collaborations, such as those between theoreticians and experimentalists of various disciplines, and also provides an ideal platform for International Excellence in both academic and real-world physics research:

Applied optics, laser applications and theory

Laser-induced-breakdown spectroscopy, nanomaterials, photosensitivity of glasses, holographic techniques, photonic crystals and thin films. Related theoretical research often focuses on nonlinear effects (e.g. Raman, Kerr, magneto-optical, surface wave, metamaterial, and band gap effects) exploited in diverse contexts, such as laser applications and device designs, waveguides, medical physics and optical fibres.

Chemical physics and biomaterials

Growth, synthesis and properties of thin films, transition metals, precursors, crystals, biomaterials and interfaces. Techniques include: chemical vapour deposition processes, molecular simulations, surface functionalisation and thermodynamical analyses. Contexts involve: catalytic semi-permeable membranes, photonic band gaps, self-assembled structures, smart materials, hybrid cements, colloids and biosensors.

Complexity, applied nonlinear science and metamaterials

Discovery and analyses of new effects involving electromagnetic waves in materials and many-body phenomena. Work supports applied materials research and draws on general (universal) concepts such as fractals, spatiotemporal solitons, vortices, patterns and chaos. Contexts include: a full range of existing and prospective technological materials and their applications, linear and nonlinear waves (fluid, optical, elastic, etc), complexity theory, nonlinear dynamics, multi-scale analyses, pattern formation and fluid dynamics. Salford is also globally leading in the development of metamaterials and their applications (such as in space-time invisibility cloaks, acoustic metamaterials and novel antennae developments).

Energy and hydrogen storage

Fundamental studies into photovoltaic materials, namely copper indium gallium diselenide, have been undertaken at Salford since the 1970’s (e.g. for solar energy applications). A particular research focus is the development of new hydrogen storage materials (for mobile applications). Related work includes: studies of fuel transport systems, magnetic phase transitions induced by hydrogen, and hydrogen-bonded systems (Raman spectroscopy, x-ray crystallography and nonlinear optics). Various environmentally-friendly technologies, applications and fuels are developed, and a range of nuclear fission and fusion energy materials are investigated – a current project is part of a national effort to understand the effects of neutron irradiation on nuclear graphites. Our contribution involves the use of coherent inelastic neutron scattering to investigate the dynamics of radiation-induced defects.

Magnetism and nanomaterials

Magnetic, electronic and structural properties of novel materials (involving metallic alloys, amorphous materials, biological nano-magnets, superconductors, and nano-wire systems). Information storage, sensing and actuation applications of thin films and bulk materials are studied, along with new nano-crystalline magnetic phases (formed from amorphous precursors).

Materials characterisation and modelling

First principles atomistic modelling is employed to predict material properties; simulations of structure and dynamics permit understanding and design of materials with optimal properties, particularly with a view to comparing with measured inelastic neutron scattering data. Molecular solids considered include ice and biotech solids, while other investigations centre on: magnetic phase transitions, nanomaterials, light metal deuterides, and energy-related materials. Further work involves: design and modelling of next-generation high-efficiency solar cells; quantum entanglement and single-photon sources; and semiconductor materials physics (in collaboration with experimentalists at Salford and throughout the world).

Multiphysics and engineering materials

Computational fluid dynamics and analysis, alongside theoretical solid mechanics, accompanies research in spray technologies and developments in gas and petroleum engineering. Numerical modelling of mass transfer in porous media and fluid-structure interactions addresses varied applications in civil, environmental, physical geographical, material and mechanical sciences and engineering. Investigations examine: subsurface hydrology, unsaturated soil mechanics, slope stability, concrete durability, thermal-mechanical characteristics of rocks, composite manufacturing, thermal phase changes and laser machining.

Structural analysis and functional materials

Thermodynamical and biomolecular considerations, magnetostrictive effects and applications, mica glass ceramics, and phase transformations and crystallisation. Techniques involve: x-ray, neutron and muon at Central Facilities, alongside imaging (radiographic, tomographic, interferometric, magnetic and Bragg-edge) and spectroscopy methods. Atomic collisions and ion-beam physics research investigates a variety of topics, involving: electron microscopy, growth and annealing, film deposition and plasma studies. We also have a dedicated Microscopy Centre and the Salford Analytical Services technical suite.