Event Information

19 May 2021
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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Lancaster Summer Lecture Series for school Physics teachers. Aimed at informing teachers of the latest research which can inspire their students.

Dr Ed Mc Cann:

Two major topics in condensed matter physics research over the last 15 years are 2d materials and topology, with the Nobel Prize in Physics awarded for them in 2010 and 2016, respectively. The two topics are related: for example, graphene has topological properties. The everyday examples that are used to explain the concept of topology are a coffee mug and a ring doughnut: they both have a single hole (the centre of the doughnut and the handle of the mug) and have the same topology; the number of holes is integer (in both of these cases, one).

When applied to condensed matter physics, the leading example of topology is a new phase of matter known as a topological insulator. Although the topic of topology sounds very mathematical and formal, there’s a simple one-dimensional example which is a model of polyacetylene (a polymer with alternating single and double bonds) and it can be used to explain many features of topological insulators. I’ll describe some of the physics behind the award of the Nobel Prize 2016, and I’ll also explain how the model of polyacetylene has informed my recent research on the properties of graphite (stacks of graphite layers).

This is an online event.


  • Lancaster University Physics Department
  • Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YB
  • England


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