Dr Chris Lusher

Research interests

My major research interest is the application of DC Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs) to Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and to Noise Thermometry. State-of-the-art SQUIDs are obtained though a collaboration with the Cryosensors Laboratory at Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Berlin. Measurements are carried out in the Millikelvin Laboratory at Royal Holloway.

NMR and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are important diagnostic tools in the physical and biological sciences. DC SQUIDs offer unprecedented sensitivity to magnetic flux, and enable NMR/MRI experiments to be carried out on systems with weak magnetic response. SQUID NMR is used for both fundamental physics experiments on samples at low temperatures and for measurements on samples at room temperatures.

One example of a fundamental physics experiment is the study of 3He adsorbed in the pores of the Zeolite MCM-41. This is a simple model system of one dimensional interacting fermions. SQUID NMR is required due to the low spin density of the 1D sample. As part of the EU funded Biodiagnostics project,  SQUID NMR has been used to study water and oil/water mixtures at room temperature,  and also the potential for the use of  magnetic nanoparticles as contrast agents in low field SQUID MRI. A new  potential application of SQUID NMR in low fields is the direct detection of neuronal currents in the brain.

The sensitivity of DC SQUIDs as current detectors is also being exploited in the development of a current sensing noise thermometer, which is fast, in principle absolute, and operates over more than four orders of magnitude in temperature, from 4.2 K down to below one millikelvin. 

I collaborate in this work with Dr. Casey, Profs Saunders and Cowan in the Department here at Royal Holloway and with many international scientists.

Teaching

I presently teach a second year course PH2420 “Electromagnetism” and from  this academic year I will be teaching a fourth year course PH4512 “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance”.  I am also responsible for co-ordinating PH3110 “Experimental or Theoretical Project. In addition I demonstrate in the first year laboratories and supervise various project students.  

Personal profile

I obtained a B.A. in Natural Sciences (Physical) from the University of Cambridge in 1981, and a D.Phil. in Low Temperature Physics from the University of Sussex in 1985. Following a post-doctoral position at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver from 1995-1988, I came to Royal Holloway as a post-doc in 1988. I became part of the academic staff here in 1995.

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