Award-winning researcher Adam Foster studies nanoscale phenomena
"I very much enjoy my work at TUT. The people here are
passionate and enthusiastic about science and they also take
into consideration how their research field could benefit society",
The young physics professor wants to make his research team the best in the world.
Sometimes in life, you just make the right decision. Had Professor Adam Foster not been "lazy and late" at a certain moment, he might now be researching the origin of our Solar System. He happened to just miss the application deadline when a professor of cosmology was hiring research assistants one summer.
"So I went to work for my favourite lecturer who taught computational physics. I've stayed on the career path that I chose without much planning in my twenties", says Foster.
Computational physics proved a good choice, as Foster completed his doctorate at University College London in 2000. He was 25 years old at the time. In the same year, Foster moved to Finland with his then girlfriend and now wife and landed a job as a post doc researcher. In 2004, he was appointed as an academy research fellow in the Computational Nanoscience (COMP) research group at Helsinki University of Technology.
The year 2009 marked an important milestone for Foster's career. He was appointed professor of physics at Tampere University of Technology. Now, at the age of 34, he is the youngest professor at the Department of Physics and the second-youngest at the entire University. In late 2009, Foster received the Väisälä Award from the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. The award, worth 15,000 euros, is presented to a young researcher who has demonstrated outstanding performance.
Theoretical but widely applicable
Adam Foster is still a member of the COMP research group which has been appointed a Centre of Excellence by the Academy of Finland. The research topics of COMP revolve around nanomaterials, nanostructures and nanocomponents. The group's research interests vary from the electronic properties of materials and nanostructures to quantum mechanics of many-electron phenomena and nanostructured surfaces and interfaces. The research team headed by Foster focuses on the latter topic.
"We study nanoscale objects, their structure and surface phenomena, such as friction".
WHO? Adam Foster
- is especially renowned for developing and applying imaging methods for tunnelling and atomic force microscopy
- has developed theories and applications for non-contact nanomicroscopy and nanomanipulation for surfaces and interface phenomena at the atomic level
- is also known for his work on oxide materials and carbon nanotubes
- prolific author of scientific papers
- married, his wife works as a professor of aerosol physics at the University of Helsinki
- is an avid sports fan, especially of cricket. In his spare time he likes to read and enjoy fine wine
The team's work is largely theoretical computation but has a wide application area.
"The results can be applied to nanotechnology, such as microelectronics that deals with components about a millionth of a millimetre in size, and to develop tissue-compatible sensors and implants."
Team's success is number one priority
As TUT's professor, Foster has reassembled his Surfaces and Interfaces at the Nanoscale (SIN) team that is part of the COMP Centre of Excellence. At the moment, the team includes five researchers from TUT and two from Helsinki University of Technology.
"It is an accomplished team of scientists. It's very rewarding to see young scientists reach their full potential. In many areas they already outperform their team leader", laughs Foster.
The team's success is so important to Foster that he calls it his number one work priority.
"I aim to make my research team the world's best in its field".