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March 29th, 2006

Small but significant

Ed Simpson, of the Electron Microscopy Group at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, has won a top prize for this image from the rarely-pictured world of nanotechnology - technology on an ultra-small scale.

(Ed.'s note, see the Small, Medium, or Large versions of Mr. Simpson's work. Copyright Ed Simpson.

And here is a bit more background on Mr. Simpson and his work:

The nanotubes were fabricated in the University of Cambridge Engineering department by Yasuhiko Hayashi, who grew them using a Cobalt-Palladium catalyst. This alloy remains present in the ends of the nanotubes, and is magnetic. The nanotubes you see here have a 70-100nm diameter. Characterisation of the magnetic properties was carried out by myself and Takeshi Kasama using Electron Holography, a TEM technique which records the phase of an electron wave. The phase, being affected by any magnetic field the electron passes through, therefore records any information on the magnetic properties on the sample under investigation. From this, the magnetic induction maps you see here can be generated. The colours represent the direction and intensity of the field, and the contours, the magnetic field lines. It is an entirely quantitative technique, so as well as these images of the field, the magnetic moment, for instance, can be deduced too.

Nanotubes such as these have many hi-tech applications, such as memory storage, or even spintronics.

Acknowledgements: Dr. Yasuhiko Hayashi, Dr. Takeshi Kasama and Dr. Rafal Dunin-Borkowski.

Simpson studied Physics as an undergraduate in Cambridge, and graduated in 2004 with a BA and an MSci in Natural Sciences. He has been a PhD student in the Electron Microscopy group for about a year and a half, studying nanoscale magnetic systems under the supervision of Dr. Rafal Dunin-Borkowski. He's a member of Fitzwilliam College, where he's also MCR President and a Senior Scholar.)


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