W. Vincent Liu, a professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded $1.5 million from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to develop models in orbital physics.
The study of orbital waves — interacting quantum gasses of atoms and molecules in the context of orbital degrees of freedom harnessed by optical lattices under advanced spatiotemporal control — is somewhat analogous to the more familiar study of “spin.” Spin, however, is concerned with an internal symmetry, while an orbital wave relates a particle’s rotational symmetry relative to external space.
As part of the proposed project, Liu and his team will develop new theories and work to push forward the science of orbital physics by developing testable predictions for future projects. If successful, it will lead to the discovery of novel phases of matter with interesting and potentially beneficial properties in fundamental science.
Just as an understanding of spin physics was crucial for the development of magnetic drives, orbital physics and engineering may lead to new tools for manipulating quantum matter.
From Pitt Wire