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A major study exploring new atomically thin materials will take centre stage at this year’s prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

A team of researchers from the Heriot-Watt University Physics Department have been invited to travel to London to host a stand at the annual event, which starts on Monday 2 July and showcases the UK’s most exciting cutting-edge science and technology.

The ‘Atomic Architects’ exhibit, led by Professor Brian Gerardot of the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences, will include hands-on activities to create sheets of single atoms and combine them to create new man-made crystals and technologies.  

Professor Gerardot said: “It’s a tremendous honour to be invited to take part in the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. This once again underlines Heriot-Watt’s reputation as a world-leader in scientific research.

“We are now exploring ideas first raised around 60 years ago by the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman.

“Feynman challenged scientists to work at the nanoscale to create materials with designer properties. It was far-fetched at the time but we are now developing new atomic structures that could help shape our future world.”

Professor Gerardot is leading a 12-strong team of researchers from the University who are investigating the physical properties of two-dimensional crystals that exhibit exotic quantum mechanical behaviour that have applications in advanced communications.

By carefully combining different atomic sheets, the electronic and optical properties of the materials can be fine-tuned or even radically transformed. The Atomic Architects exhibit will allow visitors to talk with the scientists about their work and even to try making new materials using single sheets of atoms.

A fun new game app has also been created especially for the Exhibition that can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices

Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: “Heriot-Watt’s pioneering research selected for the Royal Society’s Showcase is at the frontiers of human scientific knowledge. The exhibition of their truly astonishing work provides an opportunity to discuss future findings and show its application to the public, students, business and fellow researchers.“

The team will be at the RSSSE from Monday 2 July until Sunday 8 July. The RSSSE is free to attend and will host 22 exhibits with a series of inspiring talks and activities planned suitable for all ages.