News & Events
Here at QuantIC, we think it’s a good idea to get to know the team better and what we’re about and this week, we’d like to introduce you to one of our young researchers, Richard Middlemiss. Richard is currently studying for a PhD in the Schools of Physics and Astronomy, and Engineering at the University of Glasgow and is working with Dr Giles Hammond and Professor Doug Paul on QuantIC’s Wee-g, our ultra-sensitive miniature gravity sensor.
1. Can you tell us a bit more about the applied aspects of your research on Wee-g?
There are many different applications for gravimeters. They allow one to see things of different density underground. Perhaps the most ubiquitous use at present is in the oil and gas exploration industry. Although this industry is a target market for our work, the application that I’m most excited about personally is in volcanology. If you can see intrusion of magma you can aid volcanic eruption predictions. Since our devices have the potential to be so cheap, we could create networks of them around volcanoes to help predict eruptions and to negate the need for volcanologists to complete dangerous surveys with gravimeters that can’t be left in situ due to their enormous expense.
2. Have you worked with companies while doing your PhD and what was your experience like?
Yes, I have had many meetings and chats with different companies, but I’ve worked most closely with Bridgeporth Geophysics. Our contact there has had a very good understanding of the background physics/engineering of our device. This has made discussions very productive. It has meant that we have been able to keep our work focussed in a direction that will allow us to make the most useful commercial device.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your research?
The fact that I end up doing something different every day is a very rewarding part of my research – it’s what keeps me interested (I have a short attention span!). However, the most exciting part for me is seeing the progress towards tackling the applications discussed above. We are now building a field prototype, and the thought that we will be able to do real gravity surveys with a device that wasn’t even thought of 4 years ago brings a smile to my face!
4. What have you gotten out of doing your PhD with QuantIC?
Having spent three years doing the project I have a clearer idea of why it was a good decision for me to do a PhD in the first place: I have been able to push myself – and been pushed – to make the most out of my brain; I learn new skills every day; I get to work with great people with whom I can both learn and have fun.
As QuantIC’s focus is on translating research into technology applications, I have had the reward of seeing a vague idea of three years ago metamorphose into a computer model, then into broken trials, and finally into a fully functioning device with which I’ve been able to take incredibly exciting data (nothing beats a pretty graph sometimes); I have been able to apply for a patent and write papers; I have been able to travel the world to communicate my work to academics and the public; I have made a documentary, been interviewed on the news, and appeared on a chat show; I have done something different for each of the last 1,159 days of my PhD, and I’ve not been bored yet…
More information on Wee-g can be found here.