Fall 2020

Heusler alloys for Spin Transport

Paul Crowell
Friday, November 20, 2020 - 12:00pm

Abstract: It has been widely appreciated that Heusler alloys (e.g., Co2MnSi) can be half-metallic, meaning that there is a gap for one spin state at the Fermi level. It is in principal possible to use this feature to generate currents that are 100% spin-polarized. Unfortunately, exploiting this characteristic in real devices, which necessarily include interfaces between dissimilar materials, represents a far greater challenge. This seminar will focus on observations about epitaxial Heusler alloys grown on GaAs and MgO. I will discuss why we are interested in the microwave...

Peyman Givi Receives NSF Award to Study Complex Turbulent Flows

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 18 November 2020

​​​​​​​Mechanical engineering professors Hessam Babaee and Peyman Givi recently received an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a three-year project titled “Real-Time and Adaptive Chemical Kinetic Model Reduction Coupled with Turbulence.” 

The chemistry of combustion involves understanding how a large number of species behave and evolve in a given operating condition.  The tractability of this technically important problem becomes increasingly difficult when the operation involves turbulent mixing. 

Quantum2020 Poster Session Winners

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 13 November 2020

The Quantum2020 Spooky Action at a Distance poster session was held remotely over multiple Zoom sessions on October 29th, 2020. We had a team of 20 judges coming from various departments at Pitt, CMU, and Duquesne comprising both faculty members, postdocs and previous poster award winners, who evaluated the poster presentations of 44 participants hailing from physics, engineering, chemistry, and other disciplines. 

The full video playlist is linked here, and the descriptions of each video contain quicklinks to the beginning of each presentation. Thank you to everyone who participated!

The six presenters that received the highest overall scores are: 

PQI Seminar: Dr. David Wallace

Dr. Dave Wallace from the University of Pittsburgh gave a talk titled "What is 'Orthodox' Quantum Mechanics?" in the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute Fall Seminar series on Nov. 12th, 2020.

Abstract: What is called "orthodox'' quantum mechanics, as presented in standard foundational discussions, relies on two substantive assumptions --- the projection postulate and the eigenvalue-eigenvector link --- that do not in fact play any part in practical applications of quantum mechanics. I argue for this conclusion on a number of grounds, but primarily on the grounds that the projection postulate fails correctly to account for repeated, continuous and unsharp measurements (all of which are standard in contemporary physics) and that the eigenvalue-eigenvector link implies that virtually all interesting properties are maximally indefinite pretty much always. I present an alternative way of conceptualizing quantum mechanics that does a better job of representing quantum mechanics as it is actually used, and in particular that eliminates use of either the projection postulate or the eigenvalue-eigenvector link, and I reformulate the quantum measurement problem within this new presentation of orthodoxy.

Why and How to Integrate 2D Materials in Future Electronics

Ya-Ping Hsieh, Mario Hofmann
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 9:00am

Abstract: 2D materials are atomically thin nanostructures that are considered enabling elements in future electronics due to their unique geometry and exciting physical properties. To realize such applications, however, challenges in materials quality and production have to be addressed. In this talk we will first introduce a novel growth method that can enhance the scale, reliability, and controllability of 2D materials synthesis. Through control of the gas phase kinetics of the chemical vapor deposition process, efficient 2D materials growth could...

Steering Photons to Control Light and Heat on the Nanoscale

Ognjen Ilic
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 12:00pm

Abstract: Nanoscale photonic structures such as metamaterials and metasurfaces are enabling manipulation of light and heat in unprecedented ways. In this talk, I will present our research on shaping and controlling electromagnetic fields associated with thermal and mechanical applications. In the first part of my talk, I will present the work on tailoring high-temperature thermal emission by photonic elements that enable light recycling, relevant for high-efficiency heat-to-electricity energy harvesting. Next, I will show how nano-structured two-dimensional materials can...

Development of a More Inclusive Quantum Workforce

Multiple Speakers
Friday, November 6, 2020 - 3:00pm

Charles Robinson (IBM), Julie Love (Microsoft), Thomas Searles (Howard U.), Diana Franklin (U. of Chicago, Q-12 Partnership) discuss how to create a more inclusive quantum workforce in this QED-C hosted panel webinar.

Zoom link: https://stanford.zoom.us/j/92246708740?pwd=dXFVejFnZW1iMWhKUFNDazRwRFBxdz09

Passcode: 121936

Quantum2020 on Thursday, Oct. 29th

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 27 October 2020

We invite the PQI community to attend Quantum2020 “Spooky Action at a Distance - a Remote Poster Session”  that takes place October 29th, 2020 from 3-5:15 PM over 2 sessions (Session A 3PM-4PM, Session B 4:15PM-5:15PM). View the poster gallery and schedule at qr.pqi.org/quantum2020galllery!

This is an interdisciplinary event with a focus on quantum science and engineering! We are encouraging the participants to make their presentation accessible to a broad audience to foster potential collaborations and lessen communication barriers that may exist between different fields.

Topological Electromagnetic Phases of Matter

Zubin Jacob
Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 4:00pm


Dirac Matter: Over the last decade the concept of Dirac matter has emerged to the forefront of condensed matter physics. Prominent examples include the physics of the Dirac point in Graphene, Weyl points in topological semi-metals (TaAs) and edge states in topological insulators (Bi2Te3). These phases of matter are a playground for studying effects related to the Dirac equation and geometry of the electron wavefunction. We note, however, that they are defined only with respect to the properties of the electron (eg: bandstructure)....

Facebook and Carnegie Mellon Launch the Open Catalyst Project

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 26 October 2020

Facebook AI and Professor Zach Ulissi in the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Department of Chemical Engineering are announcing the Open Catalyst Project, a collaboration intended to use AI to accelerate quantum mechanical simulations by 1,000x in order to discover new electrocatalysts needed for more efficient and scalable ways to store and use renewable energy. The overview paper and dataset paper for this work can be found on arXiv.org.

Wind and solar energy are vital parts of the modern energy grid, especially if we hope to combat climate change. Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Both provide intermittent power, with California, for instance, seeing peak solar generation in the afternoon rather than in the evening, when demand spikes. Increasing our reliance on renewable energy requires storing power for days, weeks, or even months so that it’s available when needed.