Daniel Flynn’s PhD research explores physics beyond the Standard Model inside atoms and molecules.
In 2015 I received the Dr Alan Kenneth Head Travelling Scholarship, which allowed me to visit The Centre for Cold Matter at Imperial College, London. They are one of the few collaborations proposing to directly detect evidence of new physics beyond the Standard Model (or at least place bounds on existing models). Their results rely on the contextual interpretation of accurate molecular calculations to search for the electric dipole moment of the electron. Such calculations are the primary goal of my PhD project, and it is of vital importance that they reflect the laboratory conditions of the molecule as well as possible. Specifically, the objective of my trip was to gain a more intimate understanding of the apparatus involved, and to improve the dialogue between theoretical and experimental efforts.
The discussions and talks given by group members such as Prof. Ed Hinds, Prof. Ben Sauer and PhD student Isabel Rabey have provided valuable insight into the details of the experiment. They have outlined the need for an updated (multi-configurational) molecular calculation to account for the strong coupling of the YbF molecule’s low-lying ro-vibrational excited states with its (ideally-prepared) ground state.