Young women physicists show way to future

Two young women physicists received awards for their work on cutting edge technologies that are set to transform much of technology


Libby Heaney from the University of Leeds (on the left of our picture) was declared the winning Very Early Career Woman Physicist of the Year at the Institute of Physics on February 20th 2008 for her work on quantum entanglement in Bose Einstein Condensates, a weird effect in which matter cooled to near absolute zero starts to show quantum effects on a macroscopic scale. Quantum entanglement is potentially of vast importance to future communications and computing, because, as she said, what happens to one particle affects another with which it is entangled, “Even when they are on opposite sides of the universe”, and “By using a suitable array of condensates, we can perform universal quantum computing”, potentially allowing the construction of machines of mind boggling power.

Runner up Joanna Lee, (on the right of our picture) from NPL on the other hand is in her words, “Trying to improve” Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry. The technique as practised at NPL involves firing C60 “Buckyball” molecules at surfaces in order to elucidate their structures. Practical applications include understanding and so improving drug slow release coatings on coronary implants, flexible light emitting polymer displays and improved hair conditioners.

For more information: NPL Institute of Physics

Tom Shelley

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