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18 November 2021

King's physicists reflect on 15 years of the Thomas Young Centre

Celebrating the Thomas Young Centre

Thomas Young Centre banner

November marks the 15th anniversary of the Thomas Young Centre (TYC), the London Centre for the Theory and Simulation of Materials. TYC is an interdisciplinary alliance of more than 100 research groups based at King’s, Imperial, UCL and QMUL, working to address the challenges of society and industry through the theory and simulation of materials and molecular systems. Together with Imperial and UCL, King’s was one of the founding members thanks to the enthusiasm of our late colleague, Professor Alessandro De Vita.

The TYC runs a varied and high-quality programme of events and training that brings people together on a regular basis across institutions, including highlight seminars, topical mini-symposia, international workshops, events for students as well as a materials modelling course for graduate students from September to March each year. It is named after Thomas Young (1773-1829), a London-based polymath who contributed to many different scientific fields, including light, vision, solid mechanics, energy, physiology and the deciphering of the Rosetta stone.

Professor Carla Molteni, Professor of Physics and TYC co-director at King’s, says:

“The TYC has been very important to give national and international visibility to research at King’s on materials and molecular modelling, across different departments and faculties, and to promote connections and collaborations across the capital and beyond, making London a global centre in materials and molecular simulations and creating an inclusive community. Computational modelling will play an increasingly important role in the development of smart materials for advanced technologies and sustainability as well as in the understanding of complex biological processes. I wish to thank all the people that in different roles, in the past, present and future, have made and will made the TYC a successful enterprise.”

The TYC has five interest groups focused on structural materials, functional materials and devices, surfaces and interfaces, soft and biological matter, and methods and formalisms for simulating materials. Research expertise within TYC spans length- and time-scales of processes and phenomena from the quantum mechanics of interacting electrons to macroscopic models of engineering components.

The TYC also leads the Materials and Molecular Modelling Hub, the national Tier 2 High-Performance Computing facility (Young) dedicated to materials and molecular modelling of which King’s is partner, funded by multi-million EPSRC grants.

Dr George Booth, Reader in Theoretical Physics and leader of the interest group on Methods, says “Over the last 15 years, the TYC has served to bolster the reputation of computational materials and molecular modelling in London, drawing in people, collaborations, training and research facilities, and ensuring it is a world-renowned and national focal point for this key research area. I look forward to see it continue to thrive for the next 15 years with King’s a central pillar in its success.”

At a special event to celebrate the anniversary, Professor Michele Parrinello, a pioneer in the field of materials and molecular modelling, whose talk on “Simulating complexity, challenges and progress in atomistic materials science simulations” launched the TYC on 10 November 2006, returned to speak on “Machine Learning and Molecular Dynamics”, accompanied by current TYC Co-Director at Queen Mary University of London Dr Rachel Crespo-Otero, with a talk “Modelling photochemical processes in molecular crystals”, and founding TYC Director Professor Mike Finnis Imperial College London with a talk “Normal, Anomalous and Non-local Diffusion”, offering an overview of the progress in the field in the last 15 years and perspective for the future. This was the first in person event held by the TYC since the beginning of the pandemic, although the centre has continued to organise an intense programme of online events, keeping the community in London and beyond connected and engaged. A recording of the anniversary talks can be watched here:

In this story

Carla Molteni

Professor of Physics

George Booth

Reader in Theoretical Physics