The past year (well 6 months really) have been filled with new experiences, new ideas and lots of new information and whilst they’ve been hard work, I’ve also had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. The first year of the CDT has been a truly fantastic experience and one I would highly recommend! So as our first year comes to a close I thought I would take you, our readers, through our cohort’s 10 best bits of the year. So in no particular order,
1. Conference – lightning talks
Right at the start of the year we attended the annual CDT-CMP conference that, this academic year, was held in Bristol. At the conference there was a series of lightning talks: approximately 15 academics/PhD students (linked to our CDT) were each given 1 minute to present their research: needless to say they were rushed for time but it was a lot of light hearted fun.
2. Journal Club
This was a tricky piece of work to prepare but so worth it. Have a read about how Aitor went about preparing for his presentation here. Learning how to critically evaluate a paper is an incredibly important skill and it was great to hear about the depth and breadth of research within the condensed matter field.
3. Lab Electronics
Lab Electronics was one of our physics techniques modules. It involved building a bypass filter, aka designing a circuit, printing it, etching it and lots and lots of soldering. A very practical module that came with its challenges (I blew my circuit up when testing) but taught me new skills and reminded me of ones I hadn’t used in years.
4. Exciting Results
For obvious reasons this is exciting. Throughout the year we’ve done small research projects, which have sometimes worked and sometimes not, and when something hasn’t been working and has got to the I-want-to-give-up-its-not-working stage finally getting it to work and discovering something new and exciting is such a thrill.
For 6 weeks in January this year, 9 of the cohort undertook placements with our industry partners. For example, Dewan and Emma jet-setted off to Nijmegen to work on low temperature thermometers, read Dewan’s blog here.
Another physics technique module was Nanofab, which unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do. Nanofab involved working in the clean room, aka the Nanofab lab, at the University of Bath where they made quantum tunnelling diodes. This involved getting all kitted up in lab suits for the clean room, sputtering, laser writing and AFM. I’ve been told this was a lot of fun, especially as for most it was something completely new.
7. Crystal Growth
Growing crystals is more of an art than science- sometimes you just have to get lucky with the recipe and parameters. Quite a few of our experiments have required growing crystals to study and some of the mini-projects were solely focussed on this. It’s pretty cool to say “I grew this”!
8. Handing in the last deadline
This year has been filled with deadline after deadline after deadline (which sounds horrible but isn’t as bad as it sounds), so handing in the last one was certainly a relief.
9. Research without Borders
This is an annual festival held in Bristol highlighting the breadth of research undertaken by postgraduate students at the university. As a cohort we had a stand showcasing the variety of research within condensed matter physics, with practical demonstration of, for example, jumping rings (demonstrating magnetism), a levitating train (superconductivity) and fluorescence in wine (photonics).
10. Getting PhD Projects
Super exciting! It was great to see the variety of projects on offer and after submitting our choices, it was even more exciting to find out which project we had each been assigned. We’ve now started our projects and I can say that so far they’re going well and are very enjoyable.
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Categories: Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter