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Jack Riall, aged 21, from Wadhurst in East Sussex, secured a 2:1 in the challenging subject of Natural Sciences. Jack originally studied Physics with Material Science, but changed to Natural Sciences, specialising in the Physics pathway, for his second year.

He said: “Ever since I was a child, I have always been good at maths and would pick it up very quickly. As I went through my education, I gained an interest in physics since it was a way to apply my mathematical aptitude to real life scenarios. Throughout my education, the more I learned about physics and science the more I loved it. Because of all this when it came to choosing a course to study at university it had to be related to physics. I just always wanted to learn more about it, and what better way to do that than to get a degree in it. So I chose BSc Natural Sciences because the physical sciences pathway interested me greatly with modules including quantum mechanics, electromagnetism and nuclear technology.”

Since graduating in 2019, Jack, who now lives in Stockton-On-Tees when not at University, is completing a PhD in the Department of Computer Science and Electronic and Electrical Engineering, under the supervision of Dr Gerard Edwards.

Jack said: “My PhD is focused on calculating the switching of molecular Quantum Dot Cellular Automata (QCA) for mixed valence molecules. The reason for doing this is to find a suitable replacement for the transistor (a device which enables computers to represent binary information). A replacement is required due to the problems associated with making transistors very small. QCA is a possible alternative and my PhD is focused on solving complex differential equations to simulate the quantum mechanical effects of these single molecule QCA to prove that they are a suitable replacement for transistors.

“Overall, I am really enjoying the PhD. I like the independence and having control over what I am doing. Being able to independently research something which I am very interested in is very enjoyable.”

Dr Gerard Edwards, Deputy Head of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University, said: “Jack is making remarkably good progress in his PhD, presenting strong initial simulation results at the Postgraduate Research Symposium in Febuary after only four months since starting his PhD. These results will inform the future operation of integrated circuits, which are the backbone of the electronics industry.”

Jack said: “I presented a poster at the Postgraduate Research Symposium about my PhD and where I am currently at in terms of getting results and conducting research. This was a good opportunity for me to practice my communication skills, as I was required to explain my project to many people, some who didn’t have any scientific background at all. At this point, I had done a lot of research and made a lot of notes but none of this research had yet been merged to give a good explanation of the project anywhere other than in my head.”

Jack’s plans for the future include completing his PhD and looking for work as a researcher in an area similar to his PhD topic.

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