Fall 2019

Di Xiao and Rongchao Jin remain among world's most highly cited researchers

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 4 December 2019

Di Xiao and Rongchao Jin continue to be listed among the most cited researchers. Jin’s research focuses on nanochemistry, and he is well-known for developing new methodologies to create gold nanoparticles with precise numbers of atoms. Xiao’s research looks at the properties of materials in relation to quantum mechanics and how these properties can be harnessed for applications in electronic and magnetic devices.

Assistant Professor of Physics Opening (University of Memphis)

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 26 November 2019

The Department of Physics and Materials Science at the University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA, is seeking highly qualified individuals for a tenure-track faculty position, at the Assistant Professor level, in the field of Quantum Physics to begin in Fall 2020. The department offers BS and MS programs in physics, with various concentrations, and a joint PhD program in Engineering Physics with the Herff College of Engineering.

Assistant Professor Opening in Computer Engineering (University of Pittsburgh)

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 26 November 2019

The ECE Department (http://www.engineering.pitt.edu/ECE/) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) invites applications for two tenure-stream (TS) positions as Assistant Professor in the field of computer engineering, with one in computing, sensing, and electronics for aerospace systems, or reconfigurable and high-performance computing, and the other in neuromorphic computing, or quantum computing, or embedded computing and sensing in medical apps, as well as related specialties. The expected start date is Sept. 1, 2020.

Chandralekha Singh receives Diversity in Curriculum award

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 26 November 2019

Among five other faculty members, Chandralekha Singh was honored on Nov. 19 at the third annual Provost’s Diversity in the Curriculum awards, which recognizes faculty who have taught a modified course or revised curricula to strengthen diversity and inclusion, resulting in changes of impact.

“There’s a wealth of literature which suggests that serious engagement in diversity in the curriculum, connected with classroom and outside the classroom experiences positively affects students’ awareness and attitudes toward diversity,” said Paula Davis, assistant vice chancellor for health sciences diversity in the School of Health Sciences, in her keynote speech.

Dr. Singh was recognized for incorporating into introductory courses a new “belonging intervention,” which resulted in improved grades for all students. Using a random assignment of classrooms to enable assessment, the intervention aimed to address gender and racial gaps; it is now part of the standard curriculum in the classes in which it was introduced.

The Discipline-Based Science Education Research Center, or dB-SERC, has many excellent resources to share, learn more here and congratulations to Dr. Singh!

Givi and Daley model turbulence with quantum computing

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 20 November 2019

Turbulence in fluid mechanics has been a scientific challenge since at least the 16th century when Leonardo da Vinci sketched the chaotic movements of water flowing around obstacles in the Arno River. It is regularly described as one of the last unsolved problem of classical physics – a solution to the Navier-Stokes equation, the mathematical underpinning of turbulence, was declared a Millennium Prize Problem by MIT’s Clay Mathematics Institute in 2000. The $1 million prize remains unclaimed in 2019.

Pitt researcher Peyman Givi hopes to confront that centuries-old challenge with the power of a new generation of computing. He and a team developed  an algorithm capable  of using quantum computing to model turbulence at an unprecedented level of detail.

Givi, Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, explains the importance of turbulence. “Turbulence is central to the efficiency of fuel. Turbulence enhances mixing –  more mixing creates more reactions and more reactions mean more power. No turbulence, little reaction, little power.”

The challenge of modeling turbulence is evident in the Da Vinci drawings. “We create simulations of eddies – the swirling wheels and whirls and vortices of all sizes you see in the drawings. Fluid mechanics is composed of very large differences in scales. If for example you calculate drag on an airplane wing [fluid mechanics involves both liquids and gases], the largest scale is the entire wing, the smallest scale is close to nanometers. A grid big enough to take in all the scales together won’t fit on a computer. So we simulate the largest part – I don’t need to resolve the smallest scale to model the effects. But the model is not an exact science – you are introducing art into science.”

The science may become more exact using quantum computing. Givi is co-author on a May 2019 paper in the journal Combustion Theory and Modelling – “Quantum algorithm for the computation of the reactant conversion rate in homogeneous turbulence” – presenting an algorithm for predicting the rate of reaction in simulated turbulence and exploring the potential for applications of quantum technology to fluid dynamics and combustion problems. Citing the rapid progress in the development of quantum computing hardware, the paper posits the importance of designing algorithms now that could eventually run on that hardware – “quantum algorithm with a real engineering application.” 

Paul Leu develops materials for next-gen electronic displays

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 13 November 2019

A $1 million award from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program will fund collaborative research to replace ITO with metal “microgrid” conductors to improve OLED performance. The research will be led by Paul Leu, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and Electroninks, a technology company in Austin, Texas.

“Electronink’s metal ink can cure at low temperatures, be printed into patterns, and has conductivity comparable to bulk metal,” says Leu. “By using a new metal patterning technique that prints the metal grid directly on glass or plastic, we can create ‘microgrid’ conductors that can outperform ITO at a lower manufacturing cost.” 

Leu and Electroninks began the project in 2018, working for a year in a proof-of-concept phase to show that their metal inks could work as a replacement for ITO. “The first phase of the project was successful,” says Ziyu Zhou, lead graduate student on the project. “We were able to achieve high performance, with transparency over 90 percent and sheet resistance under 1 ohm per square.” The DOE grant funds Phase II, in which Leu’s lab and Electroninks will continue to investigate and develop the technology, process, and implementation to commercial products with its industrial partners.  They will be developing and evaluating the technology for a variety of applications such as displays, lighting, touch sensors, and electromagnetic interference shielding.

Highly tunable emergent quantum phenomena in double-layer graphene

Speaker(s): 
Jia Li
Dates: 
Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 4:30pm

2-dimensional (2D) electron gas exposed to an external magnetic field has been a paradigm system to study the effect of electron correlation and resulting emergent quantum ground states. Physical structures available to such a system are constrained by the nature of Coulomb interaction, which is difficult to control in a single 2D confinement. In this talk, I will discuss a variety of highly tunable quantum phenomena emerging from a double-layer structure, which consists of two monolayer graphene separated by a thin insulating barrier. Coulomb interaction in a double layer structure can be...

Cyclotron resonance spectroscopy of symmetry broken states in monolayer graphene

Speaker(s): 
Erik Henriksen
Dates: 
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 4:30pm

Cyclotron resonance—the resonant absorption of light by charge carriers in a strong magnetic field—is widely used to measure the effective band mass of (semi-)conducting materials. This works because the CR absorption in systems having a parabolic dispersion—a reasonable description of most materials—is unaffected by inter-particle interactions. An intriguing corollary is that, for instance, in high-mobility GaAs heterostructures when the electronic transport shows remarkably complex behavior in the fractional quantum Hall regime, there is still only a single cyclotron resonance peak that...

James McKone highlighted as an emerging investigator in materials chemistry

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 6 November 2019

From the design of improved batteries to the use of solar and wind power for commodity chemical production, the University of Pittsburgh’s James McKone explores ways that chemical engineering can make the world more sustainable. That’s why his most recent work, investigating ways that the chemical industry can use renewable electricity as its energy source, is featured in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A Emerging Investigators special issue.

The themed issue highlights the rising stars of materials chemistry research, from nanoparticle inks to next-generation solar cells. The featured investigators are early in their careers and were recommended by other experts in the field.  “We’re glad to have James on our faculty and know this honor is well-deserved,” says Steven Little, PhD, chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School. “It confirms what we already know: that his lab’s work has the potential to influence the direction of future discoveries in energy production, energy storage and beyond.” 

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