A number of LCN members took part in the annual Imperial festival on Friday 5th to Sunday 7th May, showcasing innovations in a wide range of areas including technology, health, energy and more. The festival opened to the public allowing people of all ages to gain hands-on experience with experiments and learn about current research undertaken by the LCN community.
At the “Amazing Masers” stand, Daphne Lubert-Perquel, Professor Neil Alford’s group (Materials) and members of the Maser team displayed an exhibition which looked at “How to build a MASER that works at room temperature and with no external magnetic field”. A number of activities on the stand introduced the device research to the general public. This included the Molymod and Marshmallow Molecules table – where the visitors had to assemble pentacene and p-terphenyl, the essential molecules that make up the active material in the MASER. A (model) Mars surface with a remote-controlled Mars Rover that could only be navigated via a video feed also demonstrated the many applications of MASER technology. Visitors compared low noise and high noise on the screen and so the practical effects this had on navigating across Mars was followed by a fully functioning room-temperature MASER demonstrating signal transmission.
The “SPIN-Lab” stand showcased a range of activities to demonstrate the role of spins in chemistry, biology, information technology and energy. The superconducting train, set up by Professor Lesley Cohen and Dr Will Branford (Physics), fascinated audiences across all ages with its mixture of liquid nitrogen-induced vapour, levitation, and scientific insights. Principles of electromagnetism were also demonstrated to great effect with oscilloscopes, a monopole display and copper tubes. Dr Sandrine Heutz’ group (Materials) explained the working principle of computer hard disk drives (HDD) and the important function of spin valves in HDDs using simple models involving sliding magnets and marbles – before moving on to explain the potential role of molecules in future applications. In the 'Spinning Salts' demonstration, Dr James Wilton-Ely (Chemistry) showed how the number of unpaired electrons in metal salts affects their response to a magnetic field. He also explained how these 'paramagnetic' materials can be designed for targeted medical imaging and therapy using the SPIN-lab facilities.
The days could not have been a success without the huge input and enthusiastic demonstrations by many LCN students and researchers, including: Peter Robaschik, Roland Leber, Elysia Sharma, Miguel Valdez, Elenora Cali, Aigerim Omirkhan, Enrico Salvadori, Jonathan Breeze, Riccardo Montis, Juna Sathian, Arman Amirzhan, Supamas Nitnara and Ellen Zheng.
If you missed it, don’t worry, the imperial festival will be taking place again next year and if you can’t wait that long, the Amazing Maser will be showing at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.