Materials and characterization
Physicists have an important role to play in the development of new materials and structures, as well as the tools used to characterize them. You'll typically be working in a multidisciplinary team, which can be extremely stimulating if you like to explore new ideas and invent new ways to solve problems. To operate effectively you'll need to be able to communicate your work clearly, and also be open to ideas from colleagues who may have very different knowledge and experience.
Careers in materials development beckon in both industry and academia. If you enjoy experimentation, you could harness your talents to develop new and improved analysis tools that can lead to whole new areas of study. In 1986 Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their design of the scanning tunnelling microscope, which for the first time allowed materials to be imaged and manipulated on the nanoscale.
Case study: From theory to market
Robert Jack describes how working for the materials-characterization firm Malvern Instruments satisfies both his scientific curiosity and his urge to produce something useful.
Case study: Sensing a challenge
The opportunity to carry out academic research backed up with the resources of industry attracted James Endicott to electronics company e2v.
Case study: Making the 'wonder material'
Graphene is taking the world of physics by storm, with new applications cropping up almost weekly. Daniel Stolyarov describes how he and his wife, Elena Polyakova, turned the graphene boom into a business.
Case study: Physics on babies' bottoms
As a leading researcher for Procter & Gamble's brand of nappies, Mattias Schmidt says there's plenty of physics at the business end of the consumer-goods market.
Case study: Powders, powders everywhere
Nishil Malde describes how the ubiquity of powders in industrial processes led him from academic research to an international role at a firm that undertakes powder testing