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Phillips Group

Structure, dynamics, form and function

Anthony

I was born and grew up in Perth and studied at the Universities of Sydney (B.Sc., B.A. 2007) and Cambridge (Ph.D. 2011). In 2011 I moved to the School of Physics and Astronomy at Queen Mary as an Academic Fellow in the Centre for Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, and was promoted to Lecturer in 2014.

My research focuses on the relationship between the atomic structure of materials and their functional properties. I study the structural response of materials to in situ perturbations such as changes in temperature or pressure or irradiation with light. This has included materials with negative coefficients of thermal expansion (i.e., that shrink as you heat them up) and photochromic and photorefractive materials, whose colour and refractive index change as a result of light illumination.

My work is both experimental and computational. On the experimental side much of my work takes place at central facilities, including synchrotrons and neutron sources. On the computational side I use both ab initio and empirical-potential modelling, especially using the density-functional theory code CASTEP.

I am also interested in the mathematical and computational problems that often arise in structural studies. These include problems of statistical inference (does an experimental data set provide sufficient evidence to posit a subtle structural change?), group-theoretical analysis of symmetry changes at phase transitions, and challenges associated with navigating a complex, multi-dimensional phase space when establishing a structural model and refining it against either experimental or computed data.