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Professor B J Hickey

Professor of Physics, Head of Condensed Matter
Areas of expertise
Spintronics, Carbon-Based Electronics, Thin Film Magnetism, Solid State Quantum Entanglement
Bragg Building 301G


B J Hickey's background is in experimental and theoretical studies of quantum interference effects in disordered metals and semiconductors including transitions from weak to Anderson localisation.  His experimental work concentrated on showing how spin-orbit scattering of conduction electrons affects the temperature and magnetic field dependence of the conductivity. He was also involved in calculating the electronic properties of amorphous silicon including optical effects. In 1990 Professor Hickey was appointed to a lectureship at Leeds when he joined the MBE group to work on thin film magnetism and the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) - the starting point of spintronics. In 2000 he became Professor of Physics.

Current Research Interests

Spintronics continues to dominate the research in the Condensed Matter Group.  Hickey's contribution has one common thread that appears in many incarnations of his experimental work: electron transport, especially in the quantum limit. The various strands of Hickey’s work have in common the ubiquitous spin-orbit interaction:

  • Spin Hall Effect including the Spin Hall Magnetoresistance.
  • Spin Coherence.
  • Pure Spin Currents.
  • Quantum transport in single electron devices.

In order to pursue these interests we design and build deposition systems and instrumentation for low noise, highly sensitive measurements.  Considerable effort is expended on the growth of thin film materials such as Yttrium Iron Garnet (YIG), a ferrimagnetic insulator.  Samples are often subject to nanofabrication that involves use of the University electron-beam lithography system.  The intimate relationship between the structure of nano-scale materials and function is an important part of our work since the interactions we study often involve the interface between two different materials and the quality of that interface is of paramount importance.  Our experiments require low temperatures (down to 50 mK) and large magnetic fields (~8 T) all of which leads to a varied and absorbing research life.

Hickey has a life-long interest in education and has devoted some considerable time to understanding how people learn and in particular how best to teach.

Prof Hickey is currently head of the Condensed Matter Group.  He has published a large number of papers and has done quite a few things and likes any metric/statistic that makes his work look important.