Mark Zammit, Curtin PhD candidate and 2014 ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year, has helped develop the world’s most accurate computer software to model atomic and molecular collisions.
Using quantum mechanics and supercomputers, the software calculates the probability of particular chemical outcomes or collision processes, for example the ionisation (loss of an electron) of an atom.
During his PhD, Zammit modelled electron and positron collisions with simple molecules. He also researched electrons scattering from atoms under conditions similar to the core of the sun.
An abstract concept to some, these are the underlying processes that govern chemistry, medicine, industry, nature and life. Because these collisions are so fundamental to science, a countless number of applications can stem from the research, including advancements in fusion technology, material science, astrophysics, cancer detection and radiotherapy treatment.
Zammit credits Professors Igor Bray and Dmitry Fursa for their guidance and is the recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award, a Centre for Antimatter-Matter Studies scholarship, the Curtin Research Scholarship and Faculty Postgraduate Award, which is awarded to the highest ranked PhD candidate in each faculty.
Zammit describes his recent award as “a tremendous honour ” and is enthusiastic about sharing his passion for science with high school students – one of the responsibilities that go with the win.