Bath researcher scoops top neutron scattering prize

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Dr Anita Zeidler (University of Bath) receives the B.T.M. Willis prize

Dr Anita Zeidler (University of Bath) receives the B.T.M. Willis prize from Dr Ali Zarbakhsh, Chair of the IOP/RSC Neutron Scattering Group Credit: STFC/Philip King
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Dr Anita Zeidler (University of Bath) has been awarded the prestigious '2014 B.T.M. Willis Prize' for neutron scattering in recognition of her studies of a wide range of materials including water, and their interactions at the atomic and molecular level.

Anita has played a major role in better understanding the structure and dynamics of liquid and amorphous materials under extreme conditions, for example high-temperatures and high-pressures.  She has also led an investigation into quantum effects in water, where its structure and dynamical properties are governed by a competition between intra-molecular and inter-molecular quantum effects.  Anita has also made a substantial contribution to data analysis of this work and has been at the forefront in the race to develop oxygen isotope substitution in structural studies of liquid and amorphous materials.

The B.T.M. Willis prize is awarded annually by the Neutron Scattering Group of the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry for outstanding contributions to neutron scattering science.

The majority of Dr Zeidler's work uses the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble and the ISIS neutron source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford, both world leading research centres which are supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

"Neutron techniques are an essential tool in my goal to better understand the structure and dynamics of amorphous materials.  I am very honoured to win this prize and, building on this success, my focus will be on further advancing neutron scattering research to unravel the complexity of liquid and amorphous materials," said Dr Zeidler on her achievement.

"Anita is a worthy winner of this award and the judging panel were impressed with Anita's depth of research in structural studies under extreme conditions, which is of wide interest and importance for understanding the geophysical processes deep within the Earth's mantle," said Dr Ali Zarbakhsh, Chair of the IOP/RSC Neutron Scattering Group.  "Anita and her colleagues at Bath University and the Central Facilities have advanced the study of oxygen isotope substitution in structural studies of liquids.  This is work that has the potential to radically change our understanding of the structure of normal versus heavy water".

The team at Bath are centring their research on the atomic scale structure and dynamics of liquids and glasses, and this work includes an extensive use of both neutron and x-ray scattering methods.  The systems investigated range from network glass forming materials, through ionic liquids which include metals and aqueous solutions, to glasses that have been modified by incorporating rare-earth ions.  The aim is to understand and manipulate the ordering in these systems at the atomic scale to gain insight into processes associated with the glass transition and to develop materials with new functional properties.

Notes for Editors

The B.T.M Willis prize is sponsored by the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry. It is named after Dr Terry Willis, one of the pioneers of the use of neutron scattering in the United Kingdom.

IOP/RSC Neutron scattering Group (link opens in a new window)

The IOP/RSC Neutron Scattering Group brings together scientists interested in the use of neutron scattering for the study of condensed matter. A principal function of the Group is to disseminate information about the neutron facilities available to as wide an audience as possible, particularly to newer entrants to the field and to those who work in related subjects but who may wish to make use of neutron scattering techniques from time to time. 

About ILL

The Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) is an international research centre based in Grenoble, France. As one of the world’s premier neutron scattering facilities, it is at the leading edge of neutron science and technology.  The ILL is a reactor-based neutron source. Its purpose is to provide the international scientific community with the brightest beams of neutrons possible.  Most of its neutron beams are used to probe materials. The fields of investigation range from technology applications to biology and health. Neutrons are used to study the atomic-level properties of materials – they tell us where atoms are and what they are doing.

ILL is funded and managed by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in partnership with 11 other countries. The UK contribution to the ILL is managed by STFC.

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