Meet your tutors
Congratulations on receiving an offer to study at York!
We wanted to give you the chance to find out a bit more about some of our inspiring research. Mikhail Bashkanov works on particle physics and dark matter - here, he talks about his background, and what you can expect when you join us.
There are many paths you can choose: I chose experimental physics
I was inspired to study physics by one of my teachers in secondary school. By the time it came to apply to university, I was very interested in theoretical physics. I liked the idea that I could propose and prove a theory through mathematical calculations, using just a pencil and paper.
However, I later came to the conclusion that I wanted to study experimental physics. After graduating from the Moscow State Technical University, I moved to Germany to do my PhD at the University of Tübingen.
I’m part of a leading particle physics group
My PhD was in hadron physics, looking for new particles that make up matter. I looked at many possibilities, and one of these showed a hint of a new particle - a type of hexaquark, matter made of six fundamental particles.
As a result, study into hexaquarks became the focus of my physics career. I have been working with Dan Watts and the Hadron Physics Group for the better part of a decade. We moved to the University of York in 2018 to benefit from better-quality photon beam facilities, which we use to detect new particles. These facilities allow us to determine particle characteristics like mass, size and shape.
Our work has spilled into other areas of physics, such as astrophysics. At York, we discovered that a certain type of hexaquark might be produced in neutron stars. This led to collaboration with Alessandro Pastore, a theoretical physicist, who has been able to calculate the consequences of our findings on the physics of neutron stars.
Our paper on hexaquarks and dark matter generated a lot of interest. The stars and interstellar matter of the observable universe only account for a small proportion of the universe’s total calculated mass. The other 80 per cent is known as dark matter, which has never been directly observed. We have shown that in a state called a Bose-Einstein condensate, these hexaquarks might resemble a dark matter particle.
We still have a lot of work to do to test this idea!
Our research influences what we teach you
At the basic level, you’ll be learning about the building blocks of matter, and how we are changing the way we observe them. Much of what you’ll learn will be influenced by the way we use detection methods to look at fundamental particles.
In my own field, the work on hexaquarks has shown that half of the gold we find on earth is the result of the collisions of neutron stars. The detectors that we use in our experiments can be used in other fields such as medicine, applied physics and geology. You’ll learn how physics has many applications across science and technology.
I’m excited to be teaching Medical Physics
I am currently teaching Medical Physics, a 3rd-Year option module. This covers some of the ways nuclear physics can be used to study, diagnose and treat illness and disease.
I think it is very important for students to see practical applications, so we’ll show you techniques like tomography and ultrasound. You’ll learn how unstable isotopes are used to target and destroy cancer cells. There is a lot of computer simulation in the course, so we can show, for example, how proton beam cancer therapy works.
I would encourage you to be curious. There are lots of wise and interesting people in our community. If you are curious, you will learn more from them. There are many ways to learn, not just in the classroom - we have breakout spaces, so you can study and talk to your colleagues.
It is an amazing culture here at York. I’ve worked in Russia, Germany, Sweden, the US and the UK, but Physics here is a very open place; everyone is willing to help, communicate and share ideas.