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Chasing atoms, electrons and optics there and back again

Saturday, 19 August 2017 11:01am

Blaikie 226The Inaugural Professorial Lecture of Professor Richard Blaikie, Department of Physics took place on Thursday evening  to a crowd in anticipation.

And there may have been good reason for this... although a professor since taking up the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) in 2011, it seems he's managed to successfully ‘duck and dive’ his IPL - until now. The timing is also serendipitous, he points out, because Levi Bourke, his only Otago PhD candidate has just last month, completed his Doctoral thesis.

“Although he won’t be graduating this weekend, Levi’s graduation when it takes place will be an extra special moment for me.”

Growing up in Dunedin, Professor Blaikie's academic career began at Otago in the late 1980s, leading to a doctorate from the University of Cambridge, and then onto an incredible position as a visiting researcher at the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory. Deciding it was time to come home, he and his family moved back to New Zealand - firstly to Canterbury and finally back to Otago.

"The quest has always been to try to understand the ultimate limits of technologies that use these building blocks of our physical world: from single-electron memories to ‘perfect’ lenses that can inscribe patterns at close to atomic scales using a beam of light."

Professor Blaikie's lecture described an, at times very amusing journey, which has led back to an Otago physics professorship, with an emphasis on the many people that have helped him along the way.

"The quest has always been to try to understand the ultimate limits of technologies that use these building blocks of our physical world: from single-electron memories to ‘perfect’ lenses that can inscribe patterns at close to atomic scales using a beam of light."

Professor Blaikie is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise, and Professor of Physics at the University of Otago. He received his BSc(Hons) degree from the University of Otago, New Zealand in 1988 and his PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, in 1992. For one year, he was a visiting scientist at the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory investigating single-electron transport effects in semiconductor nanostructures. He returned to New Zealand in 1993 to take up a position in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Canterbury, prior to moving to his current role at Otago.

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Blaikie oversees all of the research and commercialisation activities of the University.