NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity fired its first laser beam in August, blasting a space rock at more than one million watts per shot to determine whether the red planet could be habitable. The method, called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), is used to detect not only the composition of space-related soils but also an array of foreign materials. Now, with the help of a $1.12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, PQI faculty Kevin Chen will build upon the LIBS technique and related instruments to dramatically improve the detection sensitivity of the technology for substances of interest to Homeland Security.
PQI faculty Sergey Frolov receives 2012 Young Scientist Award from the International Conference on Superlattices, Nanostructures and Nanodevices (SSN) "for the development of semiconductor devices based on spin-orbit interaction." This award recognizes a young scientist for his/her work in the scientific areas covered by the conference.
PQI faculty Andrew Daley and his colleagues have proposed a scheme for the measurement of entanglement in a system of cold atoms in an optical lattice. Entanglement is an important theoretical concept, but was previously thought to be difficult to measure in microscopic many-particle systems. They tackle the problem by asking how one might track the changes in entanglement in a nonequilibrium many-body system.
Their proposal involves an optical lattice created by lasers and filled with bosons: identical copies of a boson chain stored in the lattice are coupled as a potential barrier between them is reduced. After tunneling has occurred, a measurement of how the lattice wells are populated would give the entanglement entropy.
A moment of inspiration that evolved into multi-million dollar quantum computing concept.
The Pitt Quantum Initiative is scheduled to launch officially in September, 2012. PQI members will be informed by e-mail and we will schedule an initial meeting to discuss current and future plans for the PQI.
PQI faculty Paul W. Leu has been awarded a $296,593 Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) grant from the National Science Foundation to research into nanosphere coatings on silicon thin film photovoltaics.
Jung-Kun Lee has received a National Science Foundation grant for his research into solar cell energy conversion. The grant, Solid State Dye Sensitized Solar Cells Using Tunable Surface Plasmons of Core-Shell Particles, is $290,724 over three years.
The objectives of this research are to develop a fundamental understanding the physical interactions among surface plasmons, solar light modulation, and carrier/exciton generation, and to design the novel plasmonic particles (i.e. metal nanoshell) that enhance light absorption capacity of solid dye sensitized solar cells.
PQI faculty Paul W. Leu is a recipient of the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Achievement Award. The awards provide seed money for research by junior faculty at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) member institutions. These awards are intended to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty and result in new funding opportunities.
A research team at PQI is developing quantum-computing algorithms to better model turbulent combustion in aerospace applications. A five-year U.S. Air Force grant was awarded this month to principal investigator and PQI faculty Peyman Givi, Andrew Daley, and Jeremy Levy.
"If some of the things we are thinking do work and eventually we do achieve this, a process that could take weeks or months will transpire in minutes," said Givi. "It really is a quantum leap."