Firth Professor of Chemistry inaugural lecture

Professor Steve Armes is holding his inaugural lecture as Firth Professor of Chemistry later this month.

Steven Armes

Professor Steve Armes is holding his inaugural lecture as Firth Professor of Chemistry later this month.

Professor Armes was awarded the Department of Chemistry’s prestigious title - formerly held by Nobel Prize winner George Porter - during the Covid pandemic.

His talk, ‘From Polymer Chemistry to Space Science via Hypervelocity Physics’ will take place on Wednesday, September 27, focusing on Professor Armes' research on the behaviour of comic dust.

Professor Armes has spent the past 25 years working in close collaboration with several teams of space scientists based in the UK, USA and Germany to gain a better understanding of the behaviour of cosmic dust.

He designs microscopic particles that can be coated with an electrically conducting polymer (polypyrrole). This thin overlayer allows the efficient accumulation of surface charge and hence enables the efficient acceleration of such particles up to 10-20 km s-1 using a high voltage van der Graaf accelerator. These fast-moving particles can be either organic or inorganic in nature and have proved to be useful synthetic mimics for cosmic dust.

Space scientists use Steve’s particles in laboratory-based experiments to calibrate cosmic dust detectors onboard unmanned spacecraft such as CASSINI and STARDUST. Such studies inform the interpretation of data obtained during such space missions.

Steve’s contribution to this field was recognized by the award of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Interdisciplinary Prize in 2014. Recently, he received a £175,000 grant from the Leverhulme Trust to continue his long-standing collaboration, which is now focused on developing synthetic mimics for polyaromatic hydrocarbon-based dust particles.

‘From Polymer Chemistry to Space Science via Hypervelocity Physics’ takes place at the Richard Roberts Auditorium, University of Sheffield, on Wednesday, September 27 at 1pm.

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