News


Pittsburgh-wide committee hosts Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at CMU

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 31 March 2020

In January, Carnegie Mellon University hosted 173 young physicists for a regional American Physical Society (APS) Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). 

“Science thrives when it is inclusive. For generations, physics has been male-dominated. This must change,” said Physics Department Head Scott Dodelson. “Hosting CUWiP was one of the most important steps that MCS is taking to drive that change.”

Over 67 people were involved in the planning, organization and running of the event, including undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff and faculty at CMU, Pitt, Duquesne, and Washington and Jefferson.


Ted Corcovilos receives tenure and promotion

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 18 March 2020

Professor Ted Corcovilos was granted tenure at Duquesne University and promoted to Associate Professor. Congratulations!

Ted's research primarily focuses on studying atoms in two-dimensional optical potentials generated by interfering laser beams. While you are all secluding yourselves at home, try out this game he devised: simulating quantum measurements of qubits!


Peng Liu receives 2020 Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 10 March 2020

The Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award annually recognizes outstanding scholarly accomplishments of members of the University of Pittsburgh's faculty. Junior Scholar Awardees include faculty members who, by virtue of the exceptional quality of their early contributions, have demonstrated great potential as scholars and have achieved some international standing. 

Professor Liu is an outstanding researcher and has made tremendous contributions to the field of computational organic chemistry and mechanistic investigations of transition metal catalysis. He has received multiple awards, including the NSF CAREER award, NIH MIRA award, and the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry Award for Early Excellence. His research achievements have been highlighted by various professional media outlets, including Chemical and Engineering News, JACS Spotlights, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., and Synfacts.

Congratulations Peng!


New Research Shows Promise of Tunable Two-Dimensional Materials for Light Detection

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 4 March 2020

New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows how two-dimensional materials can be precisely tuned to act as sensitive detectors for a difficult-to-measure form of light.

"Material design sounds like a very complicated topic," said Professor of Physics Di Xiao. "But deep down it's just about how you arrange atoms."

In a new study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, Xiao and Carnegie Mellon postdoctoral fellow Yang Gao show how arranging two layers of graphene atoms can allow the detection of circularly polarized light.


Chandralekha Singh receives Provost's Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 26 February 2020

Chandralekha Singh was selected as one of the recipients of the University of Pittsburgh 2020 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring. This honor recognizes the commitment to mentoring and success in working with doctoral students. By providing students the support they need to achieve their goals, Dr. Singh contributed to their individual success, and through them, has made a significant impact on her discipline. The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring includes a $2,500 cash prize and reception honoring the awardees and nominees on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Congratulations Chandralekha!


Move aside sliced bread, we've got a new phase of matter

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 18 February 2020

A research team led by professors from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physics and Astronomy has announced the discovery of a new electronic state of matter. PQI members Jeremy Levy, Patrick Irvin, David Pekker, and Roger Mong are coauthors of the paper "Pascal conductance series in ballistic one-dimensional LaAIO3/SrTiO3 channels." The research focuses on measurements in one-dimensional conducting systems where electrons are found to travel without scattering in groups of two or more at a time, rather than individually. The study was published in Science on Feb. 14. Jeremy also breaks down the scientific concepts and guides the readers through their research in the following video.


Hydrogen peroxide on the go

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 12 February 2020

The big brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a staple of the modern medicine cabinet, always on hand for first aid needs. Lesser known uses of hydrogen peroxide include disinfecting hospital equipment and fueling spacecraft. Yet as common and beneficial of a substance as it is, hydrogen peroxide is surprisingly hard to produce and transport. Currently, hydrogen peroxide is made through what’s known as the “anthraquinone process.” This method is energy-intense, requires large-scale production, and produces large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a byproduct. While directly reacting hydrogen and oxygen to make hydrogen peroxide would be ideal, thermodynamics prefers to form the more stable water (H2O) over hydrogen peroxide.

So the challenge becomes: does a material exist that can be used to selectively, reliably, and efficiently form hydrogen peroxide whenever and wherever it’s needed, so that transporting it isn’t necessary? A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University has set out to meet that difficult challenge. Associate Professors Venkat Viswanathan (mechanical engineering) and Tzahi Cohen-Karni (biomedical engineering/materials science and engineering) are leading an effort to develop a cheap, renewable, and sustainable method of creating hydrogen peroxide. The team has published a paper in ACS Catalysis on the work.


Fullerton and Hatridge named 2020 Sloan Research Fellows

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 12 February 2020

A hearty congratulations to both Prof. Susan Fullerton in Pitt Chemical Engineering and Prof. Michael Hatridge in Pitt Physics as recipients of 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships! Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships honor scholars in the U.S. and Canada whose creativity, leadership, and independent research achievements make them some of the most promising researchers working today. Winners receive $75,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.


QM simulations to identify improved photovoltaic materials

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 15 January 2020

Noa Marom leads a Carnegie Mellon University team in an Argonne Early Science Project with plans to use Aurora, Argonne's exascale supercomputer, to find materials that can increase the efficiency of solar cells. They use machine learning tools extensively in their research and are working with the developers of BerkeleyGW, SISSO, and Dragonfly software to prepare to run on the Aurora system.

According to Marom, “The goal of our research is to find new materials that make photovoltaic solar cells more efficient. The quest for any new materials that can enable new technologies is challenging. The materials we are researching have unique properties that make them suitable for use in solar cells, and these properties are very rare and difficult to find out of the wide array of possible materials. We are trying to accelerate the process of material discovery through computer simulation on high-performance computers (HPC) using sophisticated quantum-mechanical simulation software and machine learning (ML) tools. We are excited that our project has been accepted as one of the projects that will run on the future Aurora supercomputer as part of the Argonne ESP program. Our multi-institution team is currently modifying algorithms and workflows so they will be able to run on Aurora.”


Sangyeop Lee receives $500k NSF Career Award

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 18 December 2019

Sangyeop Lee, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, received a $500,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research that would utilize machine learning to model thermal transport in polycrystalline materials. The research seeks to create a computer model that can predict the conductive properties of a material in real life, providing guidance to engineer defects for desired thermal properties.

Congratulations Dr. Lee!

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