Chandralekha Singh has been named an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow!

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 30 November 2017

Congratulations to Chandralekha Singh, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, for being named a 2017 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The AAAS has named two more Pitt researchers as 2017 fellows. Karen M. Arndt, professor in the Department of Biological Science and Astronomy and Rory Cooper, professor and founding director of Pitt’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories. They were among the 396 individuals recognized for accomplishments nationwide. The fellows join a cohort that includes groundbreaking scientists such as inventor Thomas Edison, anthropologist Margaret Mead and biologist James Watson.

Left to right: Karen M. Arndt, Rory Cooper and Chandralekha Singh 

Postdoctoral Fellowships: Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics (CMSP)

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 29 November 2017

International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) seeks applications for postdoctoral positions starting Fall 2018 from outstanding young scientists of any nationality with a strong research record; women are particularly encouraged to apply. With about 30 group members (faculty, visitors, postdocs and graduate students), an intense programme of workshops and conferences, and close collaborations with local scientific institutions such as SISSA, Elettra, and the University of Trieste, the CMSP group provides a vibrant international research environment for postdoctoral fellows. Postdoctoral fellows are also encouraged, and supported, to participate in activities in developing countries in order to promote the mission of the ICTP. 

ICTP offers internationally competitive remuneration and a number of benefits including a pension contribution and special allowances for family members. Appointments will be made for two years, with the possibility of renewal for one more year. Preference will be given to applicants in the areas of expertise of the CMSP group


From Quantum Mechanics to Force Fields

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 22 November 2017

Ken Jordan and his colleague are invited to write a special topic issue in the journal of chemical physics (JCP). This work is dedicated to the ongoing efforts of the theoretical chemistry community to develop a new generation of accurate force fields based on data from high-level electronic structure calculations and to develop faster electronic structure methods for testing and designing force fields as well as for carrying out simulations. 

What molecular properties give rise to a strong piezoelectric response?

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 22 November 2017

In this study Geoffrey R. Hutchison and his colleagues tried to answer the question of " What molecular properties give rise to a strong piezoelectric response?"  To do so, they systematically probe the interplay among peptide chemical structure, folding propensity, and piezoelectric properties, uncovering in the process new insights into the origin of peptide electromechanical response. They have designed variety of peptides and peptoids and test the effect of molecular properties on piezoelectric response via serious measurements including ircular dichroism (CD), Polarization-modulated infrared reflection−absorption spectroscopy (PM-IRRAS), tomic force microscopy (AFM), piezo-force microscopy (PFM), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements. They showed backbone rigidity is an important determinant in peptide electromechanical responsiveness. 

New Era in Thermal Scanning Probe Lithography

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 15 November 2017

Tevis Jacobs and his collaborators from IBM and SwissLitho were achieved sub-10 nanometer feature size in Silicon using thermal scanning probe lithography. In this work, they  the t-SPL parameters that influence high-resolution patterning on the transfer stack and demonstrate that sub-15 nm half-pitch resolution patterning and transfer by t-SPL are feasible. They found that the resolution in t-SPL is limited by the extent of the plastic zone in thermo-mechanical indentation on the pattern transfer stack because, at temperatures approaching the resist’s decomposition temperature, the line shape widens, reducing the achievable resolution. They achieved reliable transfer of patterned dense lines down to 14 nm half-pitch and in the best case 11 nm half-pitch. Furthermore, evidently they showed that an enhanced resolution below 10 nm half-pitch might be possible on a mechanically different transfer stack.

Science2017 Poster Award Winners

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 15 November 2017

Congratulations to the Science2017 Poster Award Winners!

Jierui Liang (Fullerton group, SSOE Chemical and Petroleum Engineering) won the grand prize award ($1,000 travel award plus an iPad).

Minh Nguyen Vo (Johnson Group, SSOE Chemical and Petroleum Engineering), Olivia Lanes (Hatridge Group, Pitt Physics), Scott Crawford (Millstone Group, Pitt Chemistry), Maxwell Li (Sokalski Group CMU Materials Science and Engineering), Zeeshan Ahmad (Viswanathan Group, CMU Mechanical Engineering) won the poster awards ($1,000 travel award plus Echo Dot).

Megan Kirkendall Briggeman (Levy Lab, Pitt Physics), Amy Carlson (Evanseck Group, Duquesne Chemistry and Biochemistry), David Myers (Snoke Group, Pitt Physics) won the veteran awards (choice of Amazon Echo Spot/Echo or Google Home mini).

PQI undergraduate students Jessica Montone (Levy Lab) and Joe Albro (Levy Lab) presented a poster at the undergraduate session of Science2017.

Also, special thanks to the poster judges for participating in this event. 

NASA Workshop on Quantum Computing for Aeroscience and Engineering

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 15 November 2017

November 7-8, 2017, physics students and scientist from diffrent places were arrived at the NASA Langley research center for attending Quantum Computing workshop.

The objective of this workshop was to bring together experts on quantum information science and computation to understand the latest developments and current challenges in algorithms, hardware, and technology transition to engineering applications. The aims of workshop was to accelerate technology transition towards outstanding engineering problems that were expected to be achievable using quantum computations in the coming decade. The workshop’s goals were included developing a roadmap for success towards solution strategies for engineering applications. The interested stakeholders were presented or taken part in discussion on challenges to transition the current state-of-the-art to large scale engineering and data science related problems. 


Discussions were focused on the following four areas:

  • Quantum algorithms
  • Quantum computing hardware
  • Manufacturing and control of quantum systems
  • Engineering applications

American Leadership in Quantum Technology

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 10 November 2017

On October 24, 2017 house committee on science, space, and technology held hearings on “American Leadership in Quantum Technology QT.” The goal of the hearing was to provide audiences the view of United States’ (US) and other nations’ research and development efforts to develop quantum computing and related technologies, and to identify what more can be done to robust these efforts. For this regard, committee members made their opening statements on quantum technology and US leadership in this area.  Witnesses from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), IBM, National Photonic Initiative, and Argon National Lab were emphasized the importance of study and research in quantum information science and technology to sustain the leadership in this area.

The Ability to Electrically Tune the Dimensionality of mesoscopic LAO/STO Channels

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 27 October 2017

In this work, authors used conductive atomic force microscope (c-AFM) lithography in which the conduction is controlled by surface protons that are distributed on the LAO surface. They have created two conducting channel with varying witdhs as 10 and 200nm on a  LAO/STO heterostructures grown by pulsed-laser deposition. They designed the the devices in a way that two conducting channels connected in series with two leads and voltage probes. By using silver epoxy on the bottom of the STO substrate they created contacts for a back gate voltage. They investigated changes in the magnetotransport properties on the channels with different widths by varying back gate voltage and applied magnetic field. They measured the conductance for both narrow and wide channels and demonstarted the hysteresis of both channels with back gating. Saturation of the conductance at higher gate voltages was also shown. They were able to demonstrate dimensional crossover from 2d to 1D behavior with their magnetoconductance measurements.

Quantum materials: Where many paths meet

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 27 October 2017

In Nature, there exist materials with exotic properties that cannot be understood in the framework of classical theories. Such properties, however, are beautifully described by more sophisticated theoretical tools involving quantum mechanics.  Such materials are now known as the “quantum materials”. The range of exotic properties exhibited by the quantum materials is extremely broad and includes superconductivity, superfluidity, ferromagnetism, quantum hall effect, spin-liquidity, topological insulation, to name a few.

Superconductors, discovered by Kammerlingh Onnes, 1911, were first to emerge as quantum materials. In normal metals, the resistance arises due to inelastic scattering between the charge carriers (electrons) and defects in the periodic crystal lattice. The defects or scattering centres can be any distortion to the periodicity of the lattice like those due to presence of impurity or the thermal vibration of the lattice points. In superconductors, surprisingly, the resistance becomes zero despite the presence of a large number of impurities and at high temperatures where the lattice points can undergo vigorous thermal vibration. The question that how the charge carriers remained insensitive to such strong scattering centres could not be answered within any classical picture. A microscopic understanding of superconductivity was first provided by Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer (BCS) in 1951, only after substantial development of quantum mechanics and quantum field theories – the theories where quantum mechanics is combined with Einstein’s theory of relativity.