The prize was awarded in recognition of Dr Paddison's contributions to the study of frustrated (disordered) magnetic materials using diffuse neutron scattering. The nominations for the 2021 BTM Willis prize were considered by the UK Neutron Scattering Group committee members – representing both neutron users and instrument scientists across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
Dr Paddison undertook his doctoral research at the University of Oxford and ISIS, as a Facility Development Student. Following postdoctoral positions at the University of Cambridge, UK and Georgia Tech, USA, he is since 2019 Wigner Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA
In magnetically ordered materials (such as iron or nickel) each individual atom is magnetic, and they interact such that they all align, setting up a bulk magnetic field in the material. However, in frustrated magnets, the interactions lead to infinitely many different competing alignments of the individual atomic magnets – all of which are present in the material - resulting in net zero magnetization. Neutron scattering patterns of these disordered frustrated magnets can reveal the short-range order between the magnetic atoms – caused by their interactions. However, analysis of these scattering patterns is notoriously difficult.
Dr Paddison has developed a suite of analysis software which enables the extraction of microscopic models of the arrangements of the magnetic atoms in frustrated magnetic materials and, also, the interactions between them. His software is particularly well adapted to studies of polycrystalline materials – which is useful since a large fraction of interesting frustrated magnets don't exist in single crystalline form. Dr Paddison's software programs are now widely used in the community – and can be said to have transformed the field of neutron scattering from frustrated magnets.
The BTM Willis prize is named in honour of Prof. Terry Willis – founder of the UK Neutron Scattering Group, and the well known Harwell (later Oxford) School of Neutron Scattering. The prize is awarded annually to an early career researcher in recognition of a single outstanding piece of work, or a longer term coherent body of work, in the application of neutron scattering to a significant problem in physics, chemistry, materials science, earth science, the life sciences, or engineering, or alternatively in recognition of a major development in neutron scattering instrumentation or techniques.
Dr Paddison will deliver his Willis Prize lecture at the joint Physical Crystallography Group (BCA) / Structural Condensed Matter Physics (IOP) meeting, which will be held on the 14th-15th February 2022 at Milton Hill House near the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell.
Prize details and previous recipients: https://ukneutron.org/willis/
Joe Paddison Homepage: https://joepaddison.com/