Mike Hinton: PhD Candidate

Hey everyone.  You may recall several months ago, in May, when I said I would be undergoing an exam that would take about a month.  It was ultimately delayed and I instead went through it during July.  The last week of it was probably the most miserable of my life, but now I can say I am a PhD candidate for Physics.  If all goes well, I will have my degree in approximately two years from now.  It is an indescribable feeling to have accomplished this, since failing would have forced me to make some serious changes in my life… like get a real job!

antiferroFor the few who are actually curious, my project was on a recently discovered new type of superconductor called Iron-pnictides (the “p” is silent).  Pnictide is  just a fancy name for the elements in the nitrogen column on the periodic table.  I had to describe how neutron diffraction was used to find the magnetic structures in these compounds, since you can’t “feel” the magnetism like you do with a normal iron magnet. This is because when you add the magnetism from the individual iron atoms together, there is no net magnetism left since they align in opposite directions (see figure).  This is called antiferromagnetism, and as far as I know, neutron diffraction is the only way to find out if something is antiferromagnetic.

So, that’s where I am now.  Much happier than I was just 1 week ago.  Now I can get back to more entertaining things in life, like planning for my wedding, working on my house and yard, keeping up with economics, and writing this blog.  Thanks to everyone who helped me get this far.

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