Professor Ben Murdin is a physicist in quantum technologies at the University of Surrey. He graduated in Physics with Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge and then went to Heriot-Watt University for an MSc and PhD during which he developed an interest in using short pulses of light to investigate the motion of electrons in semiconductors, which are important materials for almost all modern electronic and display devices. He performed some of the very first experiments on very short time-scales in the region of the spectrum called the far-infrared (between infrared and radio waves), using an early version of the most powerful laser available, called a Free Electron Laser. Following his PhD he won a European Union Marie Curie Fellowship to go to the Netherlands, and the work he did there resulted in design rules for several types of semiconductor device. Ben joined the University of Surrey in 1996 and he has collaborations with labs across the UK, Europe, North America and China. When he was promoted he was the youngest Professor in the University at the time. He became Associate Dean for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, but after 8 years he decided to go back to the laboratory, obtaining the biggest single research grant in the UK physics portfolio to develop new quantum technologies. Ben started work on quantum technologies by accident, doing experiments on the motion of electrons around dopant impurities in silicon “because they were there”, common in commercial microelectronics but with unexplored dynamics. It was only later that he realized after talking with friends that his results showed the impurities had useful properties for completely new kinds of quantum device. In 2012 Ben was awarded the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for the work (one out of about 10 per year across all sciences), and he has now set up a new joint terahertz science laboratory with the National Physical Laboratory to push forwards the barriers of silicon quantum technology. Ben heads up Surrey’s Photonics and Quantum Sciences group as well as the Physics Department’s Equality and Diversity Committee.
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