Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
Unit of AssessmentPhysics
Summary Impact TypeTechnological
Research Subject Area(s)
Physical Sciences: Atomic, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle and Plasma Physics, Condensed Matter Physics
Chemical Sciences: Inorganic Chemistry
Summary of the impact
Research at the University of Cambridge, Department of Physics on
sensitive techniques for measurements of magnetic and electrical
properties of materials led to the selection of Dr Michael Sutherland as
an expert witness in a series of major police investigations involving
fraudulent bomb detecting equipment. Scientific evidence Dr Sutherland
presented in court was key in securing guilty verdicts, leading to the
breakup in 2013 of several international fraud rings with combined revenue
in excess of £70 million. This criminal activity had caused significant
damage to the reputation of the UK in Iraq and elsewhere.
The Quantum Matter group at the Department of Physics, University of
Cambridge, has established itself as a world leader in the detection of
quantum oscillations in metallic materials. This technique requires
extremely sensitive measurements of electrical resistivity, magnetization
and magnetic susceptibility. Custom designed electronic circuits and
cryostats for this purpose were pioneered by Profs. Gil Lonzarich (Reader
from 1990, Professor from 1997) and Stephen Julian (University Lecturer
from 1995, Reader from 2000 until 2004) in the late 1990s. The use of
bespoke low temperature superconducting transformers and vibration
isolation allowed the electrical noise levels on the group's dilution
fridge system to reach levels as low as 1 pV/sqrt Hz, in the presence of
large magnetic fields and at low temperatures.
Research in the group from 2005 focused on creating miniature-sized
detection coils for use in high-pressure measurements of magnetic
susceptibility [2,6], and on custom designing piezoresistive cantilevers
to measure magnetization. These techniques have been employed in a number
of recent studies of correlated electron materials in high impact journals
Through this work, the group has built up significant expertise in
detection of small signals, and accrued a scientific reputation for
excellence in experimental physics. Dr. Sutherland joined the Quantum
Matter team as an NSERC of Canada postdoctoral fellow in 2004, and was
subsequently awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship from
2006 onwards. He began his research program investigating low temperature
thermal transport in superconductors and magnetic materials, before
becoming involved in using magnetic susceptibility techniques to measure
quantum oscillation effects in high magnetic fields from 2005. He has been
responsible for running the group's high field/low temperature facility
References to the research
 "Electronic Structure of LuRh2Si2: "Small"
Fermi Surface Reference to YbRh2Si2" Sven
Friedemann, Swee K Goh, Patrick M C Rourke, Pascal Reiss, Michael L
Sutherland, F Malte Grosche, Gertrud Zwicknagl, Zachary Fisk, New Journal
of Physics 15, 093014, DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/15/9/093014 (2013)
 "Evidence of superconductivity on the border of quasi-2D
ferromagnetism in Ca2RuO4 at high pressure" 2028P.
Alireza, F. Nakamura, F, S.K. Goh, Y. Maeno, S. Nakatsuji, Y.T.C. Ko, M.
Sutherland, S. Julian, G.G. Lonzarich. 2028J. of Phys: Cond. Matt. 22,
052202, DOI: 10.1088/0953-8984/22/5/052202, (2010).
* "Quantum oscillations in the anomalous phase in Sr3Ru2O7"
2028J.-F. Mercure, S. K. Goh, E. C. T. O'Farrell, R. S. Perry, M. L.
Sutherland, A. Rost, S. A. Grigera, R. A. Borzi, P. Gegenwart, A. P.
Mackenzie 2028Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 176401, DOI:
* "Role of f Electrons in the Fermi Surface of the Heavy Fermion
Superconductor beta-YbAlB4" 2028E. C. O'Farrell, D. A.
Tompsett, S. E. Sebastian, N. Harrison, C. Capan, L. Balicas, K. Kuga, A.
Matsuo, K. Kindo, M. Tokunaga, S. Nakatsuji, G. Csányi, Z. Fisk, and M. L.
Sutherland 2028Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 216402, DOI:
* "Fermi Surface Reconstruction in CeRh
2028Swee K. Goh, Johnpierre Paglione, Mike Sutherland, E. C. T. O'Farrell,
C. Bergemann, T. A. Sayles and M. B. Maple2028Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 056402,
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.056402, (2008)
 "High pressure de Haas-van Alphen studies of Sr2RuO4
using an anvil cell" 2028S.K. Goh, P.L. Alireza, PDA Mann, A.-M.
Cumberlidge, C. Bergemann, M. Sutherland and Y. Maeno2028Current Applied
Physics, Vol. 8, 304, DOI: 10.1016/j.cap.2007.10.020, (2008)
* References which best reflect the quality of the underpinning research
Details of the impact
The research described above and the group expertise led to the selection
by the Metropolitan Police in 2010 of one of the group's members, Dr.
Michael Sutherland, as an expert scientific witness in a series of fraud
investigations involving bomb detection devices . These devices were
purported to detect small electrical and magnetic signals at great
distances, in a similar manner to the techniques pioneered in the Quantum
Matter group. Dr Sutherland devised and conducted a series of double blind
tests on the separate substance detection devices to test their efficacy
under scientific conditions, and also produced detailed critiques on the
science that the devices claimed to use. He was also called to The Old
Bailey on four separate occasions as an expert witness .
Fraudulent bomb detection devices were sold to police forces and the
military in many countries, most noticeably in Iraq, where they
contributed to significant loss of life through their inability to prevent
suicide bombings. A UK government ban on exporting such devices was put in
place in 2010 while the investigations were undertaken.
In considering the operating mechanism of these fraudulent explosives
detectors, Dr. Sutherland drew heavily on his knowledge of the techniques
employed in the above body of research to rigorously assess the physics of
the devices. The ADE-651 device for instance was alleged to work on the
principle of Nuclear Quadropole Resonance (NQR), which would require
detection of small electrical signals in coils similar to those used in
[2,6]. A calculation of the size of NQR signals that might be sensed by
this device proved unequivocally that the NQR effect would yield signals
far below the threshold detection limit. Similarly, the GT200 device was
said to be sensitive to diamagnetic and paramagnetic responses of
substances some 700m away from the operator. Using experience gained in
designing detection coils for use in magnetic susceptibility measurements,
it was possibly to demonstrate that the claims of the manufacturer of this
device were similarly impossible.
The thorough scientific assessment of the operating principles of these
devices, along with rigorous double blind testing of their effectiveness
by Dr. Sutherland formed a key part of the prosecution case. Leading
Counsel of the prosecution states, "Although his contribution to all of
the trials has been invaluable, Dr Sutherland's considerable expertise in
superconductors and novel magnetic and metallic materials, was essential
in the trials relating to the ADE 651 and the GT200....The independence of
Dr Sutherland's research, the quality of it, the clarity of his reports
and the evidence he gave were all fundamental in securing convictions."
The impact of this work is twofold. First, in 2013 convictions were
secured in 3 of the 4 trials, with the fourth trial ongoing. This has
disrupted several major international fraud rings, with an estimated
combined turnover of £70 million. The use of the fraudulent bomb detection
devices had caused significant human damage. On delivering a guilty
verdict, Judge Richard Hone QC said that use of the devices "in all
probability materially contributed to causing death and injury to innocent
individuals" . A former British Army bomb disposal officer stated
"Countless tragedies have been caused, both directly and indirectly,
because of these devices.". The Detective Superintendent who led the
Avon and Somerset police investigation said "I'm confident people have
lost their lives because of this." . The City of London Police confirm
that "Dr Sutherland's contribution to the investigation was a key factor
in securing guilty convictions for fraud at court, and for stopping the
manufacture and sale of these devices" .
A second impact has been the enhancement of the international reputation
of UK science through significant national and international press
coverage, much of which has reported on the work of Dr. Sutherland. Dr.
Sutherland has made numerous media appearances to discuss these scientific
findings, including BBC news, Channel 4 news, and SKY TV business report
Sources to corroborate the impact
 Supporting Statement from First Senior Treasury Counsel to the Crown
at the Central Criminal Court and Leading Counsel of the prosecution
explaining the role of the scientific evidence in securing conviction.
 Supporting statement from City of London Police explaining the
reasons for Dr Sutherland's selection as expert witness and the role of
his scientific evidence in securing conviction
 Statement from Judge Richard Hone QC:
 Statement from a former British Army bomb disposal officer:
 Statement from the Detective Superintendent who led the Avon and
Selected International Media Coverage
 Mohammed, Riyadh and Norland, Rod. "British Man Held for Fraud
in Iraq Bomb Detectors", New York Times Jan. 24 2010.
 Schubert, Atica, "Fake bomb detector maker made millions from
his trick". CNN news website, May 2 2013.
 Londono, Ernest. "In Iraq, no magic, or any use, for these
wands". Washington Post, Nov. 3 2010.
Selected National Media Coverage
 "Gary Bolton guilty of selling fake bomb detectors" BBC news
website July 26 2013
 Booth, Robert. "Fake bomb detector conman jailed for 10 years".
The Guardian, May 2 2013