In the news

Stay-at-home Physics Labs

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 28 April 2020

In the scramble to bring lab instruction to students hunkered down indoors across the globe, professors with hands-on courses adopted strategies ranging from shipping equipment and tools directly to students to stretching remote learning technologies farther than ever before.

In the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Physics and Astronomy, graduate student instructor Daniel Doucette and associate professor Gurudev Dutt have been taking advantage of virtual lab tools and even shipped devices to students to work on at home.  

 

Superconducting Material Holds Promise for Quantum Computing

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 14 April 2020

New research from Carnegie Mellon physicists details the creation of a special kind of superconducting material that could allow for the creation of new and more robust quantum computers.

"The main result is that we created a new state of matter," said Assistant Professor of Physics Ben Hunt, who led the research in collaboration with Professor of Physics Randall Feenstra, Ph.D. candidate Dacen Waters and Felix Lüpke, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

This state of matter, a one-dimensional topological superconductor, has actually been made before, Hunt clarified, but their new study published in the journal Nature Physics proved its first creation in a particular material — tungsten telluride.

Pittsburgh-wide committee hosts Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at CMU

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 31 March 2020

In January, Carnegie Mellon University hosted 173 young physicists for a regional American Physical Society (APS) Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). 

“Science thrives when it is inclusive. For generations, physics has been male-dominated. This must change,” said Physics Department Head Scott Dodelson. “Hosting CUWiP was one of the most important steps that MCS is taking to drive that change.”

Over 67 people were involved in the planning, organization and running of the event, including undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff and faculty at CMU, Pitt, Duquesne, and Washington and Jefferson.

Ted Corcovilos receives tenure and promotion

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 18 March 2020

Professor Ted Corcovilos was granted tenure at Duquesne University and promoted to Associate Professor. Congratulations!

Ted's research primarily focuses on studying atoms in two-dimensional optical potentials generated by interfering laser beams. While you are all secluding yourselves at home, try out this game he devised: simulating quantum measurements of qubits!

Peng Liu receives 2020 Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 10 March 2020

The Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award annually recognizes outstanding scholarly accomplishments of members of the University of Pittsburgh's faculty. Junior Scholar Awardees include faculty members who, by virtue of the exceptional quality of their early contributions, have demonstrated great potential as scholars and have achieved some international standing. 

Professor Liu is an outstanding researcher and has made tremendous contributions to the field of computational organic chemistry and mechanistic investigations of transition metal catalysis. He has received multiple awards, including the NSF CAREER award, NIH MIRA award, and the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry Award for Early Excellence. His research achievements have been highlighted by various professional media outlets, including Chemical and Engineering News, JACS Spotlights, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., and Synfacts.

Congratulations Peng!

New Research Shows Promise of Tunable Two-Dimensional Materials for Light Detection

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 4 March 2020

New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows how two-dimensional materials can be precisely tuned to act as sensitive detectors for a difficult-to-measure form of light.

"Material design sounds like a very complicated topic," said Professor of Physics Di Xiao. "But deep down it's just about how you arrange atoms."

In a new study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, Xiao and Carnegie Mellon postdoctoral fellow Yang Gao show how arranging two layers of graphene atoms can allow the detection of circularly polarized light.

Chandralekha Singh receives Provost's Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 26 February 2020

Chandralekha Singh was selected as one of the recipients of the University of Pittsburgh 2020 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring. This honor recognizes the commitment to mentoring and success in working with doctoral students. By providing students the support they need to achieve their goals, Dr. Singh contributed to their individual success, and through them, has made a significant impact on her discipline. The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring includes a $2,500 cash prize and reception honoring the awardees and nominees on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Congratulations Chandralekha!

Move aside sliced bread, we've got a new phase of matter

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 18 February 2020

A research team led by professors from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physics and Astronomy has announced the discovery of a new electronic state of matter. PQI members Jeremy Levy, Patrick Irvin, David Pekker, and Roger Mong are coauthors of the paper "Pascal conductance series in ballistic one-dimensional LaAIO3/SrTiO3 channels." The research focuses on measurements in one-dimensional conducting systems where electrons are found to travel without scattering in groups of two or more at a time, rather than individually. The study was published in Science on Feb. 14. Jeremy also breaks down the scientific concepts and guides the readers through their research in the following video.

Hydrogen peroxide on the go

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 12 February 2020

The big brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a staple of the modern medicine cabinet, always on hand for first aid needs. Lesser known uses of hydrogen peroxide include disinfecting hospital equipment and fueling spacecraft. Yet as common and beneficial of a substance as it is, hydrogen peroxide is surprisingly hard to produce and transport. Currently, hydrogen peroxide is made through what’s known as the “anthraquinone process.” This method is energy-intense, requires large-scale production, and produces large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a byproduct. While directly reacting hydrogen and oxygen to make hydrogen peroxide would be ideal, thermodynamics prefers to form the more stable water (H2O) over hydrogen peroxide.

So the challenge becomes: does a material exist that can be used to selectively, reliably, and efficiently form hydrogen peroxide whenever and wherever it’s needed, so that transporting it isn’t necessary? A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University has set out to meet that difficult challenge. Associate Professors Venkat Viswanathan (mechanical engineering) and Tzahi Cohen-Karni (biomedical engineering/materials science and engineering) are leading an effort to develop a cheap, renewable, and sustainable method of creating hydrogen peroxide. The team has published a paper in ACS Catalysis on the work.

Fullerton and Hatridge named 2020 Sloan Research Fellows

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 12 February 2020

A hearty congratulations to both Prof. Susan Fullerton in Pitt Chemical Engineering and Prof. Michael Hatridge in Pitt Physics as recipients of 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships! Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships honor scholars in the U.S. and Canada whose creativity, leadership, and independent research achievements make them some of the most promising researchers working today. Winners receive $75,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.

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