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Dr Cyrus Hirjibehedin, Reader

I’m originally from the US and studied at Stanford University and Columbia University; I’ve also worked at Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies and IBM’s Almaden Research Center before coming to UCL to start my own research group. In graduate school, I studied fascinating quantum systems formed in semiconductors that only appear when the system is cooled to below a tenth of a degree above absolute zero. After finishing my PhD, I started working in the field of scanning tunneling microscopy, an amazing technique that lets us not only image individual atoms on surfaces but also move them around.  In many ways this technique can seem like magic, since it uses a metal needle that’s very similar to the pointed end of a pin to “see” a single atom, something that my science teachers in school would probably have thought was impossible. Learning from the team that first used this technique to spell out “I B M” with individual atoms, I was able to construct artificial quantum systems atom by atom and study their magnetic properties.  In my current research, I explore how these smallest possible quantum systems can be influenced by the environment around them, which we can also control atom by atom.