Your analysis is about discovering new supplies – how do you try this?
We wish to develop new supplies for micro-electronics and quantum computing, and we’re additionally attempting to grasp extra about darkish matter.
To do each, we use an analogous scientific course of – my group designs proposed theoretical supplies within the lab utilizing pen and paper, whiteboard, pc, then we work with collaborators who see whether it is potential to make these supplies and check their properties.
A number of supplies that we have now prompt have been made by our experimental collaborators, which is basically enjoyable.
How did you develop an curiosity on this space?
I grew up in Rush, Co. Dublin – the place the spuds are – and I studied theoretical physics in Trinity Faculty Dublin. As an undergrad, I did a summer season internship within the College of California, Santa Barbara, in materials idea and design. I simply cherished that you could possibly make a discovery and you’re the first individual on the planet who is aware of that. That received me hooked on analysis.
What’s retaining you busy in the intervening time?
We have now been engaged on topological supplies – they’ve a bizarre physics that makes them fairly strong, they’ll accommodate various atomic dysfunction and nonetheless be helpful.
This makes them interesting for quantum computing and micro-electronics. I’m additionally making ready for a workshop in June in New York for an initiative that I co-founded, the place we’re constructing a community for scientists in Africa and the US to collaborate.
Has the pandemic affected your analysis?
We had been fortunate in that you are able to do our sort of work remotely and nonetheless be productive, however the in-person collaboration has undoubtedly been missed. For my graduate college students specifically, they’ve missed the vital expertise of simply being round the place persons are discussing issues they usually can simply and naturally ask questions as they come up.
You might be an artist in addition to a scientist – how do the 2 evaluate?
The large choice in my life round Leaving Cert was whether or not I might research artwork at NCAD or physics at Trinity. I went with physics, however I believe science is a inventive pursuit anyway, and I take advantage of an analogous course of whether or not I’m engaged on a calculation or creating artwork.
It’s about getting aware of the medium – you may have the repetition and frustration when studying a brand new methodology or strategy – then you definately get to a stage of competence and you may see the place it goes from there.
What’s your recommendation for undergraduates for locating their pursuits?
Summer season internships are invaluable. I wouldn’t have been capable of navigate doing analysis in any other case. Neither of my mother and father completed secondary college, so I had no clear understanding of a profession in academia. The internship at Santa Barbara gave me extra readability and constructed my enthusiasm for and mentors in analysis.
And eventually, how do you’re taking a break from the lab?
I like getting out for a run, however the one factor that occupies my mind absolutely and will get me away from any ideas of the lab is portray or drawing. Typically I’ll spend a weekend portray, and the break free from work could have allowed me to get insights into fixing issues in science.
Over the pandemic I’ve additionally developed a love of knitting. My mum is from Kilcar in Donegal, and he or she labored within the wool manufacturing facility so she is an professional knitter. She taught me the right way to knit correctly over Zoom throughout lockdown. It has been a stunning manner for us to attach and to make issues.