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Work and Professional Interests

My research interests are centred in the field of low-temperature superconducting and magnetic devices with particular focus on nano-scale devices.

Conventional superconductivity and ferromagnetism are generally considered competing quantum phenomena – the former associated with electron attraction in an anti-parallel spin orientation to form Cooper pairs, while the latter encourages the parallel alignment of electron spins. This mutual antagonism at the most fundamental level would appear, at first sight, to preclude the interaction of such materials for any realistic physical parameters. In practice there is, in fact, a very rich range of fascinating and novel phenomena that can be observed if the experimental difficulties can be overcome. The principal challenges are that the energy and length scales with which the experimentalist must work are small and the study of superconductors and ferromagnets in close proximity has really only begun in the last few years. At the same time, there has been a rapid increase in interest in the manipulation of electron spin in electronic structures to harness new functionality – leading to the field of spintronics. The time is now ripe for these fields to be combined, to encompass the novel and exotic properties of the superconductor-ferromagnet hybrid with functionality offered by the active control of electron spin.

Since August 2006 I have been a lecturer and an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow in the Condensed Matter Physics Group, in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds. I currently have three PhD Students: Alex Jenkins, working for me on the proximity effect between domain walls and superconductors; Jim Webb, working on Cross-Andreev Reflection; and Matt Newman, working on Graphene Superconding Josepshson Junctions.

Before I moved to Leeds, I worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Device Materials Group within the Department of Materials Science and IRC in Nanotechnology, University of Cambridge. My work was funded as part of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant on "Resolved Spin-Polarisation Spectroscopy For Improved Characterisation Of Spintronic Materials" in conjunction with Imperial College, London.

In 1998 I gained my PhD which was in quasiparticle and phonon trapping in superconducting particle detectors. This work was part of our development of tunnel junction devices for X-ray detectors for applications in astronomy.

Prior to this I read Materials Science and Metallurgy, gaining a BA in the summer of 1994. As part of my undergraduate work, I carried out projects on carbon nanotubes and, in my first encounter with superconductivity, quasiparticle multiplication.

My research has focused for a number of years on the fabrication and characterisation of novel nanoscale superconducting and magnetic devices using a focused ion beam (FIB) system. I have expertise in thin film deposition, cleanroom based micro-fabrication, and cryogenic electrical measurement and characterisation techniques. In order to carry out my research – and in support of the other projects within my research group – I have set up and developed a number of advanced measurement systems for the characterisation of device structures produced right across the work of my research group. In doing this I have made a significant contribution to the research activity of the whole laboratory, and my work has led to a continuing record of high quality and timely publications.

I applied my experience in fabricating devices with the FIB to the recently discovered superconductor magneisum diboride and to produce the first all-MgB2 thin film single Josephson junctions and, to date, one of the best performing MgB2 thin film SQUIDs. I have continued to work on MgB2, both in basic science and in fabricating improved junctions as part of the established programme on masked ion damage junctions.

A substantial part of my work in the Device Materials group has been the construction and programming of various experimental rigs for use within the group. This is mainly carried out using National Instruments LabVIEW, and I maintain a separate page with some examples and demonstrations of my code.


Work Links


Gavin Burnell: Work page
Condensed Matter Physics Group
School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Leeds

Devices Group Page
Dept.Materials Science
University of Cambridge

Development Site
National Instruments
My LabVIEW code




Gavin Burnell
Condensed Matter Physics Group
School of Physics and Astronomy
EC Stoner Laboratory
University of Leeds
tel. +44 (0) 113 343 3843
FAX +44 (0) 113 343 3900