These materials require multiple techniques to understand their complex properties. He has also benefitted from working at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory by using Diamond Light Source for his research.
After completing his PhD at the Indian Institute of Technology he then went on to do postdoctoral research at the University of Southampton, before being awarded a fellowship in Hiroshima, in Japan, for two years. On his return from Japan, he worked briefly on an NMR project at St Andrews University in Scotland before joining ISIS.
He is also carrying out research into superconductors made from different materials. In particular, he has been studying iron-based superconductors since they were discovered in Japan in 2006, and he is currently using both neutrons and muons to study samples that are made by Chinese collaborators. By using muons he is able to investigate a very small magnetic field within these superconducting materials to understand the symmetry of the electron pairing in the superconducting state.
Another area he has been involved in, this time with a Japanese collaborator, is caged type thermoelectric materials. These materials have a cage-like arrangement with one atom in the centre and have potential applications to turn waste heat – such as that from car exhausts and industry – into usable electric power.
All of these different research interests have been very productive, and he has published over 300 papers!
He believes the advantage of working at ISIS compared to a university is the freedom to do different kinds of research in this way, and to collaborate with people all over the globe. “At a university, there is a risk that you can become isolated: here I have collaborators from Japan, India, China, the USA, Europe and Argentina" he says; “Any new materials come to ISIS and we get the opportunity to work with the scientists when they come here."
He has been an Individual Merit scientist at ISIS for two years now, and enjoys the freedom to start new projects in a variety of topics. He highly values the ability to travel abroad to different conferences and to meet new researchers, many of whom then come to use instruments at ISIS.
When he was in Japan, he was involved with work with an industrial partner on thermoelectric materials, but has not been since joining STFC. However, the thermoelectric device technology is “becoming more fashionable" and the next step will be to try to make links with industry in this area.
Although his role doesn't involve with formal teaching responsibility, as in a university, he enjoys teaching; giving lectures and talks on neutron and muon for training PhD students in China, Japan and India.
He is curiosity driven, and his favourite part of his job is “finding new phenomena in the complex materials," admitting, “Sometimes I don't sleep because I want to know what's happening during the experiments."
The hardest part, he explains, “is the long hours: by covering many different topics you need to keep an eye on all of the projects. Also, getting funding is challenging." Because of his many international collaborations, he often gets messages at unusual times: “I'm an early bird, so my timings fit well with the Japanese, but when I'm working with the US, that can be slower." Although he does add that many people all over the world now seem to work all hours of the day making time zones less noticeable.
The most exciting things he has seen in the last 20 years at ISIS were the discovery of a new field of superconducting materials and the installation of the high field magnets. He was the PI for the £2.1m project that designed the advances magnets for neutron scattering that have led to improvements for his research work, and many others users at ISIS.
17 years ago, he started the Theoretical and Experimental Magnetism Meeting, which has become very popular. It is now a “must-do" event of the UK and European calendar, and the funding he has secured enables students to attend when they might not have opportunity to go to other meetings.
If he does get time outside of work, he likes reading and traveling.
His advice for his younger self would be to “focus: decide your goals and focus your energy towards achieving them."
Every member of staff that is profiled is asked to answer ten simple questions that we think will help you to get to know them better.
When you were younger, what did you want to be 'when you grew up'?
What would you be doing if you weren't in this role?
What book have you just finished reading?
Favourite place on Earth
One thing you can't live without
Can you describe yourself in three words?
If you had a time machine, when would you go?