Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bragg Lecture 2013 by Prof Paul Chaikin

The 2013 Bragg Lecture will take place on Wed 30 October, and will be given by Prof Paul Chaikin (New York University) on Some small steps towards artificial life.

Abstract: The properties we often associate with living things are motility, metabolism, self-replication and evolution. According to the Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman: “What I can’t create, I don’t understand”. We thought we’d give it a shot - understanding life - and in the process we’ve made two different systems, one that exhibits both autonomous motility and metabolism and another which is the first artificial system that can replicate arbitrarily designed motifs. The first system, artificial swimmers, provides insight into many natural phenomena such as a flocking of birds and schooling of fish. The second system uses diurnal cycles of temperature and light and at present is doubling each cycle, growing exponentially. It provides a new way of producing many, many copies of nanoscale devices and may give insights into the origin of conventional life on earth.  We even have initiated an elementary form of evolution.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Marios Sergides PhD viva

Congratulations to Optical Tweezers PhD student Marios Sergides who has successfully defended his PhD thesis on Optical manipulation of micro-and nanoparticles using evansecent fields.  Marios will be leaving the group to start a postdoc with a Japan Sciety for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), Japan, in the Light-Matter Interactions Unit under the supervision of Dr Sile Nic Chormaic.  Many thanks to Dr Mark Ellerby (UCL) and Dr Valeria Garbin (Imperial College) for acting as examiners.

Well done Dr Sergides, and good luck in Japan!

SPIE Conference Proceedings

Proceedings from the SPIE Optics + Photonics 2013 conference have been published.  These include a paper containing calculations by Stephen Simpson (Bristol University) based on our optical binding experiments: S. H. Simpson, P. H. Jones, O. M. Marag√≤, S. Hanna & M. J. Miles. 'Optical binding of nanowires in counter-propagating beams’, Proc SPIE 8810 Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation X, 881026, doi: 10.1117/12.2024466 (2013).

From the abstrastWe present a computational model for the simulation of optically interacting nano-structures immersed in a viscous fluid. In this scheme, nanostructures are represented by aggregates of small spheres. All optical and hydrodynamic interactions, including thermal fluctuations, are included. As an example, we consider optical binding of dielectric nanowires in counterpropagating plane waves. In particular, the formation of stable, ladder like structures, is demonstrated. In these arrangements, each nanowire lies parallel to the polarization direction of the beams, with their centres of mass colinear.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New Group Members

At the start of the new academic year we are welcoming several new members to the Optical Tweezers Group.  Chris Richards and Tom Smart are new PhD students who will both be working on the project Exploring Stochastic Thermodynamics with Optical Traps.  Chris is a UCL Physics graduate, and worked in the group last year for his MSci project.  Tom comes to us from Leeds University via IoP publishing where he worked for 12 months in the editorial office.

Alessandro Magazzu has also joined us as a visiting student for one month under the EU COST Action MP1205 on Optofluidics.  Alessandro is in the second year of his PhD at Universit√† degli Studi di Messina, Sicily, and is supervised by Dr Onofrio Marago at the NanoSoft Lab, IPCF-CNR.

Finally Adam Plowman is joining us for his MSci project to investigate the dynamics of artificial micoswimmers.