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Maria Azhar wins Shell Graduation Prize for Physics for research into microstructures

27 November 2014

On 28 November, Maria Azhar was presented with a Shell Graduation Prize for Physics worth € 5,000 by the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) in Haarlem. Maria Azhar won this prize for theoretical research carried out at the University of Groningen on spiral magnetic ordering in what is referred to as the Kondo model. Her research findings are important in terms of data storage and processing.

The Kondo model describes the physical properties of materials that have a magnetic structure, at the atomic level. In her thesis, she looked closely at the structure of matter, and was able to improve the most recent description of the processes taking place. Her research showed that certain spiral structures are much more common at the micro level than previously assumed.

Maria Azhar’s success in charting these microstructures in certain materials will improve the way that magnetic memories work. This in turn will improve the efficiency of data processing and data storage (including in microchips) in the future.

Maria Azhar comes from Pakistan, where she studied physics. After being awarded a scholarship, she completed her studies at the University of Groningen. She was delighted to discover that her supervisor (Prof. Maxim Mostovoy) had nominated her for a prize, and so proud to find out that she had won. Maria plans to remain in the Netherlands, where she has started a PhD research project in the same field.

The jury was impressed by Maria Azhar’s theoretical research and the potential applications she described. The subject of her graduation thesis was originally intended as a subject for a PhD candidate.

In Haarlem on 28 November, Teun Graafland, manager External Research Netherlands, Shell Global Solutions International, presented a total of three Shell Graduation Prizes for Physics worth € 5,000. The other winners were Guizela Huelz (University of Amsterdam) and Bèr Wedershoven (Eindhoven University of Technology). ‘Their research fields are all very different and demonstrate the incredible breadth and diversity of the field of Physics’, says Teun Graafland. ‘They underline the importance of technical and scientific subjects for innovation, and show why Shell awards this prize.’ The Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) in Haarlem supplied the jury.

Source: KHMW news item, www.khmw.nl .

Last modified:11 December 2014 1.28 p.m.
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