Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Professor of Physics, Professor of Public Engagement in Science

Qualifications: BSc, PhD (1989, Surrey) CPhys FInstP FRAS Hon.FBAASc

Email:
Phone: Work: 01483 68 6808
Room no: 08 BB 03

Further information

Biography

Jim Al-Khalili obtained his PhD in theoretical nuclear physics from Surrey in 1989. He spent two years as an SERC Postdoctoral Fellow at University College London before returning to Surrey in 1991. He was appointed lecturer in 1992 and, in 1994, awarded an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship for five years following which he reverted to a full time lecturer in the Department at Surrey. He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2000 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2001. In 2003, he was elected onto the Council of the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science). Along with his teaching and research, the considerable time he spends on science engagement activities and popularising science has culminated in his promotion in October 2006 to a newly created chair in the Public Engagement in Science. He is author of several popular science books and appears regularly on radio and television. In 2007, he was awarded the Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize for Science Communication. Read more here .

Research Interests

Al-Khalili's research interests lie mainly in the field of theoretical nuclear physics. This has mostly been in the development of few-body quantum scattering methods to study nuclear reaction mechanisms and nuclear structure, particularly as applied to the study of exotic nuclei produced by radioactive beam facilities around the world. He has pioneered the application of few-body Glauber methods in nuclear scattering and reactions at intermediate and high energies. Current interests span a wide range of reaction energies from the study of the light nuclei using electromagnetic probes such as electron scattering and photo-induced pion production reactions, to reactions of astrophysical interest. Over the past few years, he has become interested in decay studies of exotic nuclei and proton radioactivity.

Research Collaborations

Al-Khalili collaborates with colleagues, and jointly supervises postdocs and research students, within the nuclear theory group at Surrey on a range of topics of current interest. Active collaboration with theorists and experimentalists in Europe, the US and Canada, in particular where relating to research on exotic nuclear beams at the major labs. He is the theory coordinator for the R3B collaboration at GSI. Collaborates with PDRA DR Qiang Zhao at Surrey and Professor Frank Close (Oxford) on problems in hadron physics. Collaborates with both theorists and experimentalists at TRIUMF Lab, Vancouver, and Jyvaskyla Lab in Finland on decay studies of exotic nuclei, particularly relating to nuclear astrophysics Collaborates with both physicists and Microbiologists on topics relating to quantum effects in biological systems.

Further details can be found on my personal web page.

Publications

Highlights

  • Cunningham ES, Al-Khalili JS, Johnson RC. (2011) 'Role of the tensor exchange potential in nucleon-nucleus scattering'. PHYSICAL REVIEW C, 84 Article number ARTN 041601
  • Yakhelef A, Timofeyuk NK, Al-Khalili JS, Thompson IJ. (2010) 'Three-Body Spectrum of C-18 and its Relevance to r-Process Nucleosynthesis'. FEW-BODY SYSTEMS, 47 (4), pp. 213-224.
  • Al-Khalili JS, Stevenson PD. (2008) 'Simulating the Quantum Zeno and Anti-Zeno Effects During Position Measurements'. ADVANCED SCIENCE LETTERS, 1 (1), pp. 140-144.
  • Joss DT, Darby IG, Page RD, Uusitalo J, Eeckhaudt S, Grahn T, Greenlees PT, Jones PM, Julin R, Juutinen S, Ketelhut S, Leino M, Leppanen A-P, Nyman M, Pakarinen J, Rahkila P, Saren J, Scholey C, Steer A, Cannon AJ, Stevenson PD, Al-Khalili JS, Erturk S, Venhart M, Gall B, Hadinia B, Simpson J. (2006) 'Probing the limit of nuclear existence: Proton emission from Re-159'. PHYSICS LETTERS B, 641 (1), pp. 34-37.

Journal articles

  • Godbeer AD, Al-Khalili JS, Stevenson PD. (2015) 'Modelling proton tunnelling in the adenine-thymine base pair.'. Phys Chem Chem Phys, England: 17 (19), pp. 13034-13044.

    Abstract

    The energies of the canonical (standard, amino-keto) and tautomeric (non-standard, imino-enol) charge-neutral forms of the adenine-thymine base pair (A-T and A*-T*, respectively) are calculated using density functional theory. The reaction pathway is then computed using a transition state search to provide the asymmetric double-well potential minima along with the barrier height and shape, which are combined to create the potential energy surface using a polynomial fit. The influence of quantum tunnelling on proton transfer within a base pair H-bond (modelled as the DFT deduced double-well potential) is then investigated by solving the time-dependent master equation for the density matrix. The effect on a quantum system by its surrounding water molecules is explored via the inclusion of a dissipative Lindblad term in the master equation, in which the environment is modelled as a heat bath of harmonic oscillators. It is found that quantum tunnelling, due to transitions to higher energy eigenstates with significant amplitudes in the shallow (tautomeric) side of the potential, is unlikely to be a significant mechanism for the creation of adenine-thymine tautomers within DNA, with thermally assisted coupling of the environment only able to boost the tunnelling probability to a maximum of 2 × 10(-9). This is barely increased for different choices of the starting wave function or when the geometry of the potential energy surface is varied.

  • Godbeer AD, Al-Khalili JS, Stevenson PD. (2014) 'Environment-induced dephasing versus von Neumann measurements in proton tunneling'. Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, 90 (1)

    Abstract

    In this work we compare two theoretical approaches to modeling the action of the environment on an open quantum system. It is often assumed that as the temperature of the environment surrounding a quantum system increases, so does the speed of environment-induced dephasing, or decoherence (dynamical noise), and so the efficacy of processes such as quantum tunneling drops. An alternative way of viewing the action of the environment is to consider it as carrying out von Neumann-type measurements that, in the limit of continuous observation, lead to the so-called quantum Zeno effect, whereby the system is never allowed to evolve because its wave function is collapsed to its initial state with overwhelming likelihood. However, it has been established in recent years that under certain conditions quantum processes such as tunneling can actually be enhanced (thermally assisted) when the system couples to its environment, as this allows transitions to higher-energy eigenstates closer to the top of the potential barrier. Here we show that, over a specific temperature range, increasing the temperature of the heat bath to encourage such thermally induced tunneling is equivalent to increasing the frequency of a von Neumann-type measurement on the system by the environment (an anti-Zeno effect). However, this correspondence between these two independent pictures of quantum measurement breaks down above a certain limit: Increasing the frequency of measurement above this limit leads to a reversal from an anti-Zeno to a Zeno effect and the tunneling rate decreases again, whereas raising the temperature further leads to a leveling off in the tunneling probability. © 2014 American Physical Society.

  • Cunningham ES, Al-Khalili JS, Johnson RC. (2013) 'Effect of spin-spin interactions on nucleon-nucleus scattering'. PHYSICAL REVIEW C, 87 (5) Article number ARTN 054601
  • Cunningham ES, Al-Khalili JS, Johnson RC. (2011) 'Role of the tensor exchange potential in nucleon-nucleus scattering'. PHYSICAL REVIEW C, 84 Article number ARTN 041601
  • Yakhelef A, Timofeyuk NK, Al-Khalili JS, Thompson IJ. (2010) 'Three-Body Spectrum of C-18 and its Relevance to r-Process Nucleosynthesis'. FEW-BODY SYSTEMS, 47 (4), pp. 213-224.
  • Bianco L, Page RD, Darby IG, Joss DT, Simpson J, Al-Khalili JS, Cannon AJ, Cederwall B, Eeckhaudt S, Ertürk S, Gall B, Hornillos MBG, Grahn T, Greenlees PT, Hadinia B, Heyde K, Jakobsson U, Jones PM, Julin R, Juutinen S, Ketelhut S, Labiche M, Leino M, Leppänen A-P, Nyman M, O'Donnell D, Paul ES, Petri M, Peura P, Puurunen A, Rahkila P, Ruotsalainen P, Sandzelius M, Sapple PJ, Sarén J, Scholey C, Smirnova NA, Steer AN, Stevenson PD, Suckling EB, Thomson J, Uusitalo J, Venhart M. (2010) 'Discovery of 157W and 161Os'. Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics, 690 (1), pp. 15-18.
  • Al-Khalili JS, Stevenson PD. (2008) 'Simulating the Quantum Zeno and Anti-Zeno Effects During Position Measurements'. ADVANCED SCIENCE LETTERS, 1 (1), pp. 140-144.
  • Page RD, Bianco L, Darby IG, Uusitalo J, Joss DT, Grahn T, Herzberg R-D, Pakarinen J, Thomson J, Eeckhaudt S, Greenlees PT, Jones PM, Julin R, Juutinen S, Ketelhut S, Leino M, Leppanen A-P, Nyman M, Rahkila P, Saren J, Scholey C, Steer A, Hornillos MBG, Al-Khalili JS, Cannon AJ, Stevenson PD, Erturk S, Gall B, Hadinia B, Venhart M, Simpson J. (2007) 'alpha decay of Re-159 and proton emission from Ta-155'. PHYSICAL REVIEW C, 75 (6) Article number ARTN 061302
  • Al-Khalili JS, Crespo R, Johnson RC, Moro AM, Thompson IJ. (2007) 'Few-body multiple scattering calculations for He-6 on protons'. PHYSICAL REVIEW C, 75 (2) Article number ARTN 024608
  • Joss DT, Darby IG, Page RD, Grahn T, Pakarinen J, Simpson J, Uusitalo J, Eeckhaudt S, Greenlees PT, Jones PM, Julin R, Juutinen S, Ketelhut S, Leino M, Leppänen A-P, Nyman M, Rahkila P, Sarén J, Scholey C, Steer AN, Al-Khalili JS, Cannon AJ, Stevenson PD, Ertürk S, Gall B, Hadinia B, Venhart M. (2007) 'Discovery of the proton emitting nucleus Re'. AIP Conference Proceedings, 961, pp. 28-33.

    Abstract

    The observation of the new nuclide Re provides important insights into the evolution of single-particle structure in heavy nuclei beyond the proton drip line. The nuclide Re was synthesised in the reaction Cd(Ni, p4n) and identified via its proton radioactivity using the RITU gas-filled separator and the GREAT focal-plane spectrometer. Comparisons of the measured proton energy (E = 1805±20 keV) and decay half-life (t = 21±4 μs) with values calculated using the WKB method indicate that the proton is emitted from an h state. The implications of these results for future experimental investigations into even more proton unbound Re isotopes using in-flight separation techniques are considered. © 2007 American Institute of Physics.

  • Joss DT, Darby IG, Page RD, Uusitalo J, Eeckhaudt S, Grahn T, Greenlees PT, Jones PM, Julin R, Juutinen S, Ketelhut S, Leino M, Leppanen A-P, Nyman M, Pakarinen J, Rahkila P, Saren J, Scholey C, Steer A, Cannon AJ, Stevenson PD, Al-Khalili JS, Erturk S, Venhart M, Gall B, Hadinia B, Simpson J. (2006) 'Probing the limit of nuclear existence: Proton emission from Re-159'. PHYSICS LETTERS B, 641 (1), pp. 34-37.

Conference papers

  • Page RD, Bianco L, Darby IG, Joss DT, Simpson J, Al-Khalili JS, Cannon AJ, Cooper RJ, Eeckhaudt S, Erturk S, Gall B, Grahn T, Greenlees PT, Hadinia B, Jones PM, Judson DS, Julin R, Juutinen S, Ketelhut S, Labiche M, Leino M, Leppanen A-P, Nyman M, O'Donnell D, Rahkila P, Sapple PJ, Saren J, Scholey C, Steer AN, Stevenson PD, Suckling EB, Thomson J, Uusitalo J, Venhart M, Boztosun I, Balantekin AB. (2008) 'Decays of New Nuclides and Isomers Beyond the Proton Drip Line - The Influence of Neutron Configurations'. AMER INST PHYSICS NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND ASTROPHYSICS, Cappadocia, TURKEY: Conference on Nuclear Physic and Astrophysics - From Stable Beams to Exotic Nucle 1072, pp. 172-178.
  • AI-Khaffli JS, Cannon AJ, Stevenson PD, Ferreira LS, Arumugam P. (2007) 'The two-potential approach to one-proton emission'. AMER INST PHYSICS PROTON EMITTING NUCLEI AND RELATED TOPICS, Lisbon, PORTUGAL: International Conference on Proton Emitting Nuclei and Related Topics 961, pp. 66-71.
  • Page RD, Bianco L, Darby IG, Joss DT, Grahn T, Herzberg R-D, Pakarinen J, Thomson J, Uusitalo J, Eeckhaud S, Greenlees PT, Jones PM, Julin R, Juutinen S, Ketelhut S, Leino M, Leppanen A-P, Nyman M, Rahkila P, Saren J, Scholey C, Steer A, Venhart M, Simpson J, Al-Khalili JS, Cannon AJ, Stevenson PD, Erturk S, Gall B, Hadinia B, Ferreira LS, Arumugam P. (2007) 'Probing single-particle structures beyond the proton drip line'. AMER INST PHYSICS PROTON EMITTING NUCLEI AND RELATED TOPICS, Lisbon, PORTUGAL: International Conference on Proton Emitting Nuclei and Related Topics 961, pp. 137-142.

Books

  • Al-Khalili JS. (2014) Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. London : Transworld
  • Al-Khalili J. (2012) Paradox. Transworld Digital

    Abstract

    This book is about my own personal favourite puzzles and conundrums in science, all of which have famously been referred to as paradoxes, but which turn out not to be paradoxes at all when considered carefully and viewed from the right ...

  • Al-Khalili J. (2010) Pathfinders:The Golden Age of Arabic Science. Lane, Allen

    Abstract

    In this compelling, inspiring book, Jim al-Khalili celebrates the forgotten pioneers whohelped shape our understanding of the world.All scientists have stood ...

  • al-khalili J. (2008) The Euroschool lectures on physics with exotic beams. Springer Verlag

    Abstract

    This is the third volume in a series of Lecture Notes based on the highly succesful Euro Summer School on Exotic Beams.

Book chapters

  • Al-Khalili JS. (2008) 'Quantum aspects of life'. in Abbott D, Davies PCW, Pati AK (eds.) Quantum aspects of life Imperial College Pr Article number 3

    Abstract

    This book presents the hotly debated question of whether quantum mechanics plays a non-trivial role in biology. In a timely way, it sets out a distinct ...

Teaching

  • Level: HE1 – Space, Time & Relativity (Module code PHY1022). This first year course introduces the field of Special Relativity along with a few lectures at the end on General Relativity. Go to website containing lecture notes and other course resources.
  • Level: HE3 – Mathematical Methods (Module code PHY3020). This final year 10 credit module covers topics such as linear vector spaces, line and surface integrals, complex variable theory and complex (contour) integration methods. No lecture notes available yet as teaching this course for first time in 07/08.
  • Level: Masters – Theoretical Physics (PHYM001). This 30 credit M-level course contains within it the Mathematical Methods module, the module on nonlinear physics and a 10 credit Problem Solving component.

Departmental Duties

Coordinator of Departmental Marketing and Outreach
Member of Board of Studies

Books

  • "Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines", Institute of Physics Publishing, 1999.
  • "Scattering", co-author, with Dr J.A. Tostevin, of chapter in multi-volume reference book edited by P. Sabatier and E.R. Pike, 2001.
  • "Collins Encyclopaedia of the Universe", chapter on quantum mechanics as part of large general interest reference book on
    astronomy, Harper-Collins, 2001.
  • "Nucleus: A Trip into the Heart of Matter", R.S. Mackintosh, J.S. Al-Khalili, B. Jonson and T. Pena, Johns Hopkins University Press,
    2001.
  • "Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed", Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2003.
  • "Lecture Notes in Physics: Nuclear Physics with Exotic Beams", Eds. J.S. Al-Khalili and E. Roeckl, Springer-Verlag, Volumes I and II
    (Volume III published in Summer 2007)

Television and Radio

For an update on Jim's media work, visit his personal website at www.jimalkhalili.com

Page Owner: phs1ja
Page Created: Monday 10 August 2009 11:20:32 by lb0014
Last Modified: Wednesday 29 October 2014 15:11:37 by pg0016
Expiry Date: Wednesday 10 November 2010 11:18:59
Assembly date: Fri May 22 17:31:52 BST 2015
Content ID: 11647
Revision: 9
Community: 1256