Dr. Donal MacKernan awarded NovaUCD Licence of the Year

March 2021: The School of Physics is congratulates Dr. Donal MacKernan who is the recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award for the development of a disruptive molecular switch platform technology. During 2020 this technology was licensed by NovaUCD to a US-based company Fionnachtain Inc with an initial application as a point-of-care medical diagnostic for COVID-19 and influenza. The molecular switch platform is a specialised hinge protein with sensor and function domains and can be manufactured using standard recombinant protein technology. The flexibility of the design allows a wide variety of applications including medical diagnostics, food and environmental testing, and therapeutics.

School of Physics Awarded Juno Practitioner Status

March 2021: The School of Physics has been awarded a Juno Practitioner Award by the Institute of Physics. This award recognises steps we are taking to understand & improve gender balance. The School has investigated gender balance in a broad range of areas by gathering data and consulting with physics staff & students. We have established baselines in terms of the gender breakdown among staff, postgraduate, and undergraduate students and degree outcomes. As detailed in the action plan, we will monitor these data annually and increase participation. The implementation of our Action Plan in the coming years will enhance diversity and improve our School.
The Juno committee members are Assoc Prof Sheila McBreen (chair), Prof Brian Rodriguez (vice chair), Prof Padraig Dunne, Bairbre Fox, Dr. Sharon Shannon, postdoctoral researcher Dr Julia Subbotina, Angela O’Toole, Orla Byrne, and postgraduates Pallavi Kumari & Silas O’Toole. All staff in the School have contributed to the application.

UCDs Meadhbh Griffin develops software for ESA space experiment

March 2021: UCD MSc student Meadhbh Griffin will soon see her work launched into space. Meadhbh has spent the last five months as an intern at ESA writing and testing software for an experiment set to fly later this year on the Hungarian-led RadCube CubeSat. While its main mission is to probe space weather in Earth orbit, RadCube will also host a miniature experiment to test how commercial computer memories withstand space radiation.

Major development for Irish space sector as UCD launches Space Centre

December 2020: The UCD Centre for Space Research (C-Space) was officially launched on December 15th 2020. More than 15 academic staff from 5 Schools in UCD are involved in this interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to space. The School of Physics plays a leading role in several of the C-Space research themes, including gamma-ray detectors, astrophysics and nanosatellites & payloads. By building on nationally leading projects such as EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s first satellite, C-Space will be a key national resource for space expertise and training. Click the image for more information or visit the centre's website https://www.ucd.ie/space/

Physics helps to predict nanomaterials toxicity

November 2020: Researchers in the school have recently made a significant advancement in assessing the toxicity of nanomaterials. In a recent paper in the prestigious journal Advanced Materials, the authors studied inhalation exposure and pulmonary diseases that may be caused by common industrial nanopowders. Using high resolution imaging, gene expression and pathway analysis, the team has identified a vicious cycle of nanomaterials uptake, excretion and quarantining by different cell types in the lung can result in chronic lung inflammation. The work was funded as part of the EU Horizon 2020 project SmartNanoTox coordinated by Vladimir Lobaskin, UCD School of Physics together with members of Systems Biology Ireland Boris Kholodenko, Vadim Zhernovkov, and David Gomez-Matallanas.

SFI Frontiers for the Future Success

November 2020: Staff in the School have secured a total of €2M in funding for two projects in the first SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme. Prof. Emma Sokell and Dr. Fergal O’Reilly will lead the project "xLuminate: nanoimaging and spectroscopy enabling brilliant tuneable, laboratory-scale x-ray source technology" which will enable research on a broad range of scientific and industrial applications, currently only available at large scale research facilities, to be conducted on a laboratory scale. While Prof. Lorraine Hanlon will direct "Building on EIRSAT-1: Nanosatellites as a disruptive technology platform for innovation and research in the global space sector" to develop an industry-academia collaboration focussed on accelerating new space mission and payload concepts, enabled through transformative tools for the rapid design and integration of payloads with a nano-satellite (<10 kg) platform, while also advancing scientific research related to multi-messenger astrophysics.

Prof. Brian Vohnsen named OSA Fellow 2021

October 2020: The School of Physics congratulates Prof. Brian Vohnsen who was recently named Fellow of the Optical Society OSA for his significant contributions to vision science, including photoreceptor optics and high resolution retinal imaging. The annual honour is bestowed upon a small portion of members of the OSA for their significant contributions to the advancement of optics and photonics through education, research, engineering, business leadership and service.

SiriusXT Secure €2.35 million

October 2020: SiriusXT together with two UCD researchers, have been awarded a total of €2.35 million in funding for a disruptive photonics technology project through Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. The aim of the 4-year CoCID (Compact Cell-Imaging Device) project, which is being led by SiriusXT, is to provide insights into the cellular origins of viral diseases including; hepatitis C, hepatitis E, herpesvirus and SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and to aid in the development of novel therapeutics using the company’s novel soft x-ray microscope.

Student Success at the INAM

September 2020: UCD PhD student Emma Callis was announced as one of two winners of the 2020 Peter Curran award for the best student talk at the Irish National Astronomy Meeting (INAM). Her winning presentation described her research into the explosion of massive stars as supernovae, and how material shed by stars in their final years can affect how they appear when they explode. Seán Brennan was also recognized with an honourable mention in the 2020 Peter Curran awards for a talk on observations of a giant outburst from a massive star. Both Emma and Seán are PhD students working in the supernovae and explosive transients group with Dr. Morgan Fraser at UCD (sn.ie).

School of Physics Spin-out wins funding to fight COVID-19

June 2020: SiriusXT, a UCD School of Physics spin-out, has been awarded just over €4.5 million funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator Pilot programme to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. The funding will enable SiriusXT to contribute to the fight against the coronavirus on a pioneering project to pilot its soft x-ray microscope at leading virology and disease research labs across the EU which are focused on coronavirus research and research on other diseases.

Dr. Steve Campbell's achievements in quantum technology recognised

April 2020: L’associazione “Giuseppe Davide Paparo” in conjunction with the Universities of Catania, Madrid, and Innsbruck have awarded Dr. Steve Campbell the 2nd edition of the Paparo prize for his significant contributions to research in quantum technologies. The committee consisting of Profs. Luigi Amico (Catania), Alioscia Hamma (Massachusetts), Miguel Angel Martin-Delgado (Madrid), and Hans Briegel (Innsbruck) awards the prize every two years to an early career researcher in the field to commemorate the memory of G. D. Paparo and to demonstrate an example of a brilliant and promising researcher in the field of quantum physics to young people who are heading for a career in this important sector.

Professor Dominic Zerulla wins prestigious SFI Future Innovator Prize

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, has today announced that a special Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Future Innovator Prize of €500,000 has been granted to University College Dublin (UCD) researcher, Professor Dominic Zerulla. Professor Zerulla, UCD School of Physics, and his team at PEARlabs Technologies, have received the prize in recognition of the potential impact of their project to develop a highly innovative imaging solution that enables ultra-fast video-rate nanoscale optical microscopy.

For more details, see:

UCD Physics Conferring of Porter, Nevin & O’Raifeartaigh Medals. On Wed 2nd Sept 2020 at 12.45, a virtual presentation will be made by Prof. Martin Grunewald (Head of School) to all our UCD School of Physics graduates and graduands via a Zoom link emailed

Staff at UCD School of Physics would welcome the chance to congratulate you (both undergrad and postgrad) and wish you well in your future endeavors.
Friends and family of our students may also want to be part of your day, so they would be welcome to view the presentation with you or afterwards via this link - https://vimeo.com/453662951
Coronavirus has changed how we all do things. At UCD School of Physics, we hope you will join us virtually to celebrate your well-earned achievements during a tricky and unusual time.
Congratulations to all!
This local UCD Physics event is separate from the main event organized by UCD Conferring; their official ceremony is at 11.30am & 2.30pm on Wed 2nd Sept 2020. Should you need to make contact with their unit, see https://www.ucd.ie/confer/

UCD Physicist Fergal O'Reilly Receives a NovaUCD Innovation Award.

Dublin, Ireland, 26 June 2020, NovaUCD today announced the winners of its annual Innovation Awards. A total of 7 Awards, including the 2019 NovaUCD Innovation Award, were revealed during a virtual event, to highlight successes made in areas of commercialisation, consultancy, entrepreneurship and the promotion of an innovation culture, by members of the UCD community. The Awards were due to be presented at an event in March which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019 NovaUCD Innovation Award, which recognises excellence in innovation or of successes achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research or other intellectual activity over a number of years, was presented to Dr Fergal O’Reilly, who has been a researcher in the UCD School of Physics since 2005.

For more detail visit -

LOFAR Radio Galaxy Zoo: Public asked to help trace giant black holes at centre of galaxies

Scientists are asking for the public’s help in tracing the origin of hundreds of thousands of galaxies recently discovered by the largest radio telescope ever built, LOFAR. New citizen science project 'Radio Galaxy Zoo: LOFAR' is giving anyone with a computer the opportunity to help find the galaxies with supermassive black holes at their centres.

These radio emissions are produced by huge jets of matter ejected deep into space by black holes, usually found at the centres of galaxies, as they consume dust and gas.
Associate Professor John Quinn, UCD School of Physics, who is the Irish lead on the citizen science project, says the public’s help is needed to identify which galaxies belong to which radio source as the task is simply too big for the 200 astronomers that make up the international LOFAR team.

Calling Citizen Scientists: Astrophysicists Once Again Seek Public’s Help to Unmask Muons Disguised as Gamma Rays

Muon Hunters 2: Return of the Ring
VERITAS launches new Zooniverse citizen science project on March 14th, 2019

Scientists once again seek help from the public to identify hundreds of thousands of ring patterns produced in the VERITAS cameras by muons to help distinguish them from the patterns produced by gamma rays, which the VERITAS telescopes are designed to detect. The classifications obtained from citizen scientists will be used to train machine-learning algorithms to improve the capability of computers to automatically distinguish between images created by muons and gamma rays.

Interested in participating? Go to the Muon Hunters Web site: http://www.muonhunter.org

UCD Contact: Associate Professor John Quinn, Spokesperson for the VERITAS Collaboration (Email: john.quinn@ucd.ie ; Web: https://astrophysics.ucd.ie)

UCD School of Physics team competing for the €1 million SFI Future Innovator Prize

The “Plasmonics and Ultra-fast NanoOptics Group” led by Associate Professor Dominic Zerulla in UCD School of Physics are among twelve finalist teams in the running for the prestigious SFI Future Innovator Prize. The research team have invented a new, disruptive imaging technology coined Plasmonic Electronically Addressable Super-Resolution (PEAR). PEAR offers an innovative solution that goes beyond the current state of the art and opens the possibility for real-time imaging of subcellular processes which exist at the nanoscale.

Astronomers Publish New Map of the Sky Detecting Thousands of Previously Unknown Galaxies

An international team of more than 200 astronomers from 18 countries, including researchers from University College Dublin (UCD), has today published the first phase of a major new sky survey at unprecedented sensitivity using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope.

VERITAS supplies critical piece to neutrino discovery puzzle

The VERITAS collaboration, including UCD School of Physics members Assoc. Prof.
John Quinn and Ph.D. student Ste O'Brien, has confirmed the detection of very-high-
energy gamma-ray emission from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole,
observations prompted by the detection of a spatially coincident high-energy
neutrino event by the IceCube collaboration. This black hole is potentially the first
known astrophysical source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos, a type of ghostly
subatomic particle, and the observations represent a breakthrough in multi-
messenger astrophysics.

Astronomers See Distant Eruption as Black Hole Destroys Star

For the first time, an international team of astronomers including Dr. Morgan Fraser from the School of Physics at University College Dublin, have directly imaged the formation and expansion of a fast-moving jet of material ejected when the powerful gravity of a supermassive black hole ripped apart a star that wandered too close to the cosmic monster. The new findings have been published in a paper in the prestigious international journal Science, led by Prof. Seppo Mattila of the University of Turku in Finland and Dr. Miguel Pérez-Torres from the Institudo de Astrofisica de Andalucia in Spain.

UCD theoretical physicist Dr Andrew Mitchell publishes research in journal 'Science'

New research on quantum nanoelectronics has been published today in the journal 'Science'. Results of state-of-the-art experiments carried out in Paris confirm theoretical predictions by Dr Andrew Mitchell here in UCD School of Physics, and demonstrate how exotic quantum mechanical effects can be exploited for super-ballistic transport.

Prof. Brian Rodriguez and Associate Prof. Sheila McBreen of UCD School of Physics win prestigious SFI grants

Science Foundation Ireland has awarded substantial funding to both Prof. Brian Rodriguez and Associate Prof. Sheila McBreen of UCD School of Physics through Career Development Awards. Only 22 such grants were made nationally across the sciences.

UCD School of Physics team leads €8M EU Horizon 2020 project

UCD Theoretical Physicist Prof. Lobaskin and his team will lead an €8M EU Horizon 2020 project on the mechanisms of toxicity of nanomaterials, involving 11 partners from 8 EU countries.

UCD theoretical physicist Dr Andrew Mitchell wins prestigious IRC Laureate award

The Irish Research Council's new "Laureate" programme supports frontier basic research, pushing boundaries at the cutting edge of knowledge. Only 36 of these prestigious awards were made across all disciplines nationwide, including Dr Andrew Mitchell from UCD School of Physics for his research on quantum nanoelectronics. New PhD and Postdoc positions in the group will be advertised shortly.