Researchers from the Department of Physics held their third Eureka conference on 14 June 2023, showcasing Physics research from Universities in the South West in the areas of Photonics, Astrophysics, Nanoscience and Theory. The conference was organised by Dr Kristina Rusimova, Dr Patricia Schady and Professor Simon Bending, on behalf of the Department of Physics Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee (DRKEC).

During the one-day event, academics from Bath and Physics Departments at other Universities (Exeter, Southampton, Bristol, and Cardiff), summarised their latest academic successes, including an impressive number of research grants, prestigious fellowships and scientific prizes. There were over 100 attendees from all five universities, and lively discussions and exchange of ideas were promoted during the day with the lunch, numerous coffee breaks, 17 exhibition stands, a poster session, and a reception to conclude the event. The conference was attended by a number of guests from industry, including Amplitude Laser, Solid State Supplies and Horiba who presented their companies with lightning talks.

The Bath Knowledge Exchange Team were available throughout the day to answer questions about setting up a collaboration between industry and academia. In addition, the optics society, Optica, facilitated a meeting between the Student Chapters across the five attending Universities.

Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath said: "I pay great tribute to the organisers of Eureka 2023 for this excellent conference which brings together so many in the Physics community from across the South West and indeed beyond. The strong engagement of industry highlights that the high-quality research being carried out is having strong commercial impact. The Department of Physics deserves much credit for their leadership in this matter."

Dean of Science, Professor Duncan Craig said: “I was delighted to see the Physics community coming together for the third Eureka conference. The talks this year were outstanding and it was good to see other universities joining and contributing to the event. Its pleasing to see colleagues with passion for their research coming together and collaborating in this way. I would like to thank the organisers Dr Kristina Rusimova, Dr Patricia Schady and Professor Simon Bending, for facilitating the event and am looking forward to the next one already”

The programme of the conference consisted of five oral sessions, poster presentations and an industry trade show. Prof Ian White, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath gave the opening scientific talk, followed by a talk from Prof Ventsi Valev, Head of the Department of Physics at Bath, and focused research talks from Dr Patricia Schady and Prof Tim Birks from Bath on the most luminous explosions in the Universe and optical fibres beyond telecommunications.

The overview talk for Exeter was given by Prof Euan Hendry, Director of Research of the Physics Department at Exeter, followed by scientific talks by Prof Saverio Russo and Prof Stefan Kraus on science and applications of 2D materials and astronomical instrumentation for high-angular resolution imaging.

The first afternoon session focused on Physics research at the University of Southampton with an overview talk from Prof David Smith, Deputy Head of School for Research at Southampton School of Physics and Astronomy, followed by a scientific presentation from Dr Philip Wiseman on time-domain astronomy. This was followed by a session on Physics research at Cardiff University, with Dr Cosimo Inserra, Deputy Director of Research at Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy, giving the overview talk, and Dr Sam Shutts and Prof Kate Dooley presenting their research on compound semiconductors for photonics and gravitational waves and quantum interferometry, respectively. The final session focused on Physics Research at the University of Bristol. Prof Ruth Oulton, Director of Research for the Bristol School of Physics, gave the overview talk, followed by scientific presentations from Dr Sotiria Fotopoulou and Dr Stacy Moore on big data astronomy and high-speed atomic force microscopy for materials science.

At the end of the poster session, the Department awarded several prizes: - Three Best Poster Awards were also announced, for Dr Charlie Patrickson, Exeter (1st place), Will Smith, Bath (2nd place) and Dr Kerrianne Harrington, Bath (3rd place). - The Best Poster by a PhD student, which was sponsored by the University of Bath Faculty of Science, was awarded to James Capers, Exeter. - The Best Nanoscience poster, which was sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Nanoscale Advances, was awarded to John Kerr, Bath. - The jury for the best poster awards consisted of Prof Ruth Oulton (University of Bristol), Prof Euan Hendy (University of Exeter), Dr Cosimo Inserra (Cardiff University), Prof David Smith (University of Southampton), and Prof Ventsi Valev (University of Bath).

The organisers are especially grateful to Dr Charlotte Parry, John Kerr and Nathan Roberts for their help, which allowed the event to run smoothly.

The conference was sponsored by 14 industrial companies, including Amplitude, Horiba, Solid State Supplies, Toptica and Teledyne Princeton Instruments.

This was the first Eureka event to have included external Universities, and we hope to continue nurturing ideas and promoting collaboration amongst the Universities of the South-West in many future Eureka events to come.