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Trinity College Dublin

School of Physics

Prof John Pethica

Prof John Pethica
Prof John Pethica

Email:           john.pethica AT

Telephone: +353.1.8963036

The aim of Prof. Pethica's work is to understand the mechanisms of mechanical energy dissipation at the near atomic scale. The challenge is to relate atomistic displacements to macroscopic equilibrium. Nanostructures are likely to be key to understanding the connection. It is significant for the nanoimprint manufacturing process, the stability of nanostructures, and the fundamentals of friction. The group develops and uses novel small amplitude AFM techniques giving simultaneous force, current, tunnel barrier and energy dissipation with atomic resolution. This combination allows unambiguous interpretation of images of complex systems. They also study the manipulation of few atom structures on copper at both room and elevated temperatures. This gives a unique thermal measure of tip surface interaction energies and thereby of the changes in atom lateral displacement barriers.

John Pethica graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA and PhD in physics. He was a staff scientist at Brown Boveri Co., Switzerland from 1980 to 1982, and then held Fellowships at Cambridge from 1983 to 1987. He was appointed Lecturer, then Professor (1996) of Materials Science at the University of Oxford. He became an SFI Research Professor at Trinity College Dublin in November 2001. He was one of the founding directors of CRANN, serving until 2005. He founded and ran Nano Instruments Inc., Knoxville, USA, 1984 – 98. He is also currently part time Chief Science Advisor to the National Physical Laboratory, UK. In 2009 he was appointed Physical Sciences Secretary and Vice President of the Royal Society.