PQI faculty Wensheng Vincent Liu has received a five-year $1.42 million grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to predict and understand topological phases of quantum atomic matter (i.e., a cold ensemble of interacting atoms) under novel conditions, well beyond the standard regimes.
While the research is theoretical in nature, the findings are expected to motivate and guide ongoing and future experiments in atomic, molecular, and optical physics, as well as provide the models for engineering novel electronic materials of the desired quantum properties in condensed matter physics. The acquired new knowledge has the potential to find applications in the future generation of precision quantum-based devices and possibly topological quantum computers and communication technology.
PQI faculty Karl Johnson and his team recently identified the two main factors for determining the optimal catalyst for turning atmospheric CO2 into liquid fuel. The results of the study, which appeared in the journal ACS Catalysis, will streamline the search for an inexpensive yet highly effective new catalyst.
Imagine a power plant that takes the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) put in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and converts it back into fuel. Now imagine that power plant uses only a little water and the energy in sunlight to operate. The power plant wouldn't burn fossil fuels and would actually reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere during the manufacturing process. For millions of years, actual plants have been using water, sunlight, and CO2 to create sugars that allow them to grow. Scientists around the globe are now adopting their energy-producing behavior.
PQI faculty Tevis Jacobs received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to observe and measure nanoscale contact inside of an electron microscope-enabling for the first time visualization of the atomic structure of the component materials while they are in contact.
Technologically, nanoscale contacts are found both in advanced microelectronic devices, as well as in emerging nanoprobe-based technologies used to make those devices. By using a nanoprobe to make contact, device manufacturers can measure and manipulate behavior down to the atomic scale. Jacobs and his team will investigate the physics, chemistry, and materials science of nanoscale devices during contact.
Jeffry Madura and student Biran Adams created a software program which allows an individual to view molecular structures in three dimensions by looking through a specially-designed headset.
The project began last year when Madura noticed that there were not many affordable options for people to observe molecules in three dimensions. Madura reached out to the computer science professors and students to help design a solution, and Adams volunteered. According to Madura, Adams’ experience background in programming and algebra was perfect for the task. Madura and Adams developed the idea of using already-existing video game technology to create a virtual world of enlarged molecules. They used the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset originally funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and expanded its scope of use.
The Kaufman Foundation announced on Wednesday that it is awarding about $2 million through 10 grants to researchers at six universities. In the New Investigator Research category, a grant of $150,000 over two years was awarded to Theodore Corcovilos for research on “Experimental quantum emulation of two-dimensional topological insulators and Majorana fermions using ultra-cold atoms”.
To further his research in renewable energy catalysts, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund recently awarded a Doctoral New Investigator Award to PQI faculty John A. Keith. The two-year, $110,000 grant, "Unraveling Heterocycle-Promoted Hydride Transfer Mechanisms for Energetically Efficient Fuel and Petrochemical Production" will enable Dr. Keith to study design principles for renewable energy catalysts that efficiently convert CO2 into fuels and chemicals.
A research team led by PQI faculty Jeremy Levy has discovered electrons that can "swing dance". This unique electronic behavior can potentially lead to new families of quantum devices.
Superconductors, materials that permit electrical current to flow without energy loss, form the basis for magnetic resonance imaging devices as well as emerging technologies such as quantum computers. At the heart of all superconductors is the bunching of electrons into pairs.
The work, done in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, was published May 14 in the journal Nature.