Physics and Mathematics

Combining advanced experimental techniques with modern theoretical physics, this is the oldest and most fundamental science of the natural world, underlying chemistry, biology, electronics, engineering, mathematics and ultimately all technology.

Materials Physics and Biophysics


Physics research at UCLan crosses the boundaries of several academic Schools and unites theoretical and experimental work of the following groups:

  • Magnetic Materials Group. Having a long tradition at UCLan, research in magnetic materials is currently focussed on two themes: (i) Multiferroic composite materials with interest in their magnetic properties, the Magneto-Electric effect, electrical excitation and the interactions between these aspects. These multifunctional materials are of high interest because of their potential applications in the continuing miniaturisation of technology; (ii) Magnetic nanoparticles that have potential biomedical, decontamination and catalysis applications.
  • Experimental Nanophysics Group. Our newest research group, established in 2013, uses advanced microscopy techniques to investigate materials with molecular and atomic precision. These materials are chosen for their potential applications in molecular electronics and renewable energy technologies. We also collaborate with the computational group to investigate the self-assembly of molecular systems relevant to these areas.

  • Molecular Biophysics Group. Currently, the main focus for the group’s interest is to investigate the structure function relationships underpinning the membrane interactions of known biologically active molecules and the role of amphiphilicity in the activity of biomolecules. The research is motivated by one of the major problems facing medical science: the increasing occurrences of resistance to antimicrobial and anticancer agents, which has led to investigations into new drug design.

  • Mathematics. UCLan's Mathematicians research a variety of topics. One theme is Model Theory, and its applications to Algebra, Number Theory, Topological Dynamics, and other areas. Model Theory is the study of the relationship between mathematical structures and the language we use to describe them. A second theme is the interaction between Analysis, Functional Analysis, and related Algebraic objects, including C* algebras and Quantum groups.

Professor Derek Ward-Thompson,

Dr Joe Smerdon,


National and European grants have been secured to support the research work and enable collaborative network activity to take place with leading academic institutions in the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel, Spain, Portugal, China and the USA.

Sponsorship by an international consortium of the leading magnetic data storage media manufacturers led to research showing the effects that will occur with the ever thinner magnetic layer needed to increase data densities. In order to address the issue of these effects, and possibly others, the manufacturers have since made significant changes to the relevant and key part of the fabrication process and continue to consider and address the impact of the effects as densities rise further. This work was also sponsored by the UK’s Research Council for physics research (EPSRC)

Collaborative work is being conducted with the industry’s world-leading materials science software company, Accelrys Ltd, making use of UCLan’s excellent High Performance Computing facilities.

Collaborative work is also being undertaken with the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) on Multiferroic composite materials.

A PhD thesis from the Computational Physics Group won the Institute of Physics 2009 Prize for the best Computational Physics thesis in the UK and Ireland, and this thesis has since been published as a book.

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