Tiny Materials with Joe Spencer

W are delighted to introduce our next curator, Joe Spencer (@SpenJoeScience), Senior Research Assistant and PhD student at the University of Southampton, UK. Joe began his journey of physics in 2008 , when he started a degree in Physics at Southampton. He then took up a PhD at Southampton where he works on lasers unnamedand nanotechnology. Having developed an interest as a undergraduate with nanoscale and carbon-based materials, Joe now works on the smallest materials possible. Here’s Joe in his own words.


Accidentally, I intended to do law at A-level, but then my GCSE science teachers said I should think about science. I thought about it, decided to give it a go as I found experiments fun, and didn’t regret my choice since then.


I chose to do a PhD to further my education. I have been interested in nanotechnology and materials science since my first year of university where I heard about graphene. Since then I have grown a huge fan of carbon science. What keeps me going is the knowledge that I’m working on the frontiers of science, discovering and seeing new things no one has seen before.


I work on filled carbon nanotubes. I basically make wires inside carbon nanotubes that are just 1-2 atoms across. It’s the absolute limit of miniaturisation. I then look at these structures using Raman spectroscopy, where I shoot lasers at my nanowires and measure the vibrational response to understand physical properties.


We should care, as nanotechnology is all around us in our daily lives. If you were to look inside your mobile phones, you’ll find billions of tiny nanoscale electronic devices called transistors. To make devices perform better scientists seek to make these smaller and smaller. I make wires that are literally the smallest possible, just 1 or 2 atoms across. So it’s really important that we understand the new physics that appears at this scale as our technology is fast approaching this limit.


I do demonstrating and teaching of the undergraduate labs and run a lecture series called Accelerate, where I present a fun interactive show about the large Hadron collider


I enjoy magic and do stage magic as a hobby.


Ideal Day Off? Going on an adventure somewhere I’ve not been to before. Sometimes just chilling out playing some games with some drinks with friends is also ideal.


Please welcome Joe Spencer to Real Scientists!






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