‘The 8 minute abs of materials physics’ wins Science 3MT final

3 Sep 2020

Oliver Bellwood from the School of Mathematics and Physics will represent the Faculty of Science in the UQ final of Three Minute Thesis (3MT) on 16 September 2020.

His research on ‘The 8-minute abs of materials physics’ won a tightly contested 3MT final against 11 other PhD candidates from across the Faculty of Science.

Oliver is a Theoretical Physicist and says that chemists and material scientists are continually discovering new materials but using them to make better computer chips or smaller, more efficient phone batteries takes thousands to millions of research hours to actualise.

“My PhD research on utilising magnetically scattered laser light to study magnetic materials has the potential to fast-track advancements in computer hardware, battery technology, and nanotechnology, by lowering the cost and time frames needed for performing vital materials analysis,” he said.

“By lowering the barrier to entry for organisations to research new materials will potentially result in materials entering the technological market sooner and at a lower cost. “Ideally, this means that the community will benefit from greater access to more advanced consumer technologies – such as electronics, mobile or medical devices – at more affordable prices.”

Oliver describes getting to the UQ 3MT finals as a bit of a shock but is pleased that his research presentation has resonated with people.

“Participating in 3MT has really helped my communication skills, especially as a physicist, where abstract concepts don’t make for good elevator pitches, he said.

“It has been extremely helpful in solidifying how I think about my thesis topic and I think I’ll come out of all this much more confident in my ability to speak as a researcher.

“Plus, I can finally give my family a source to direct people to when they get asked, what is Oli up to these days?”

Oliver was attracted to the world of science from a young age as he loved solving problems and has always been obsessed with puzzles and games. He says that pursuing a career in research was a natural extension of his desire to challenge himself to solve more difficult problems.

“Research offers the most exciting problems, as those without answers are the most rewarding to crack.”

Oliver’s main focus now is working towards the happy and rewarding achievement of completing his PhD.

“I hope to finish my PhD in a timely manner and hopefully pursue postdoctoral research in the future,” he said.

“It would be a dream to continue working on similar challenging problems in materials physics, or even different ones."