CMU Associate Professor of Physics Di Xiao has been awarded a fellowship by the Simons Foundation. The Simons Foundation was founded in 1994 to support research in mathematics and the basic sciences. Xiao was one of nine theoretical physicists awarded fellowships by the foundation this year. The fellowship will allow Xiao to take a sabbatical from teaching for the 2019-20 academic year to focus on his research in quantum condensed matter theory on the magnetic and electric multipoles in crystalline solids.
In the news
The White House held a summit to discuss the urgent need to collaborate to advance the country’s prowess in quantum information science. Among the academics and government officials, Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor for research Rob Rutenbar was in attendance, representing the interests of the Pittsburgh scientific community.
The current administration has pushed for progress in quantum computing by establishing a National Quantum Initiative that authorizes $1.2 billion over the next five years for quantum-related activities. “It’s critical that we win in the industries of the future, of which quantum is clearly one,” said Chris Liddell, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy coordination. He added that investment in quantum information science is one area in which there is “true bipartisan support.”
Venkat Viswanathan received a 2019 Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research to research how to improve lithium-ion battery safety at low temperatures by preventing dendrite growth at the anode.
The Young Investigator Program supports young academic scientists and engineers in researching topics that could benefit the goals of the Navy and Marine Corps. As the recipient of the award, Viswanathan will work closely with other NRL researchers, to make the work relevant for naval applications.Viswanathan and his team hope that the collaboration will result in a practical way to mitigate dendrite growth.
Benjamin Hunt has been named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar. Twenty-four of the nation's top early career scientists received the designation from the Research Corporation for the Science Advancement (RCSA). The awards recognize the recipients' leadership in integrating science teaching and research at U.S. research universities and undergraduate institutions.
"The Cottrell Scholar program champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy by providing these significant discretionary awards," said RCSA President and CEO Daniel Linzer
Hunt will use the support from the scholar program to further his research in the role of crystal symmetry in superconductivity.
Written by Jocelyn Duffy.
Read more here.
John Keith, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has received two awards to fund a 10-month collaboration with a researcher at the University of Luxembourg.
Dr. Keith received the equivalent of $89,000 from the Luxembourg National Research Fund as well as a $26,746 NSF Travel Award supplement to support a 10-month visit to the University of Luxembourg, where he will work with Prof. Alexandre Tkatchenko, a world expert in developing atomistic machine learning methods that use artificial intelligence to make computer simulations faster and more accurate.
Together, the researchers will study complex reaction mechanisms, such as carbon dioxide conversion into fuels and chemicals, and environmentally green chemical design of molecular chelating agents.
The researchers also plan to develop a modern textbook on quantum chemistry and contemporary methods to study chemical bonding that would educate the next generation of computational researchers.
Written by Maggie Pavlick.
Read more here.
Jill Millstone is the 2019 recipient of the Award for Career Excellence in the Chemical Sciences from the Pittsburgh Women Chemists Committee. This award recognizes the achievements of female chemists and chemical engineers in the greater Pittsburgh area who have a record of accomplishment in their field.
Read more here.
The nuclear industry in the U.S. is at a crossroads, as several plants are scheduled for permanent shutdown, including three in Pennsylvania, the second-largest nuclear energy-producing state. However, Heng Ban, director of the Swanson School’s Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program, sees opportunity ahead for students, alumni and faculty researchers.
“Nuclear energy is one of the cleanest power resources and is a vital component not only of our nation’s energy portfolio, but also the U.S. naval nuclear fleet and several countries around the world. Research is ongoing into additive manufacturing of nuclear components, smaller reactor systems as well as sensors and controls for reactor safety and machine learning for facility maintenance,” Dr. Ban says.
Dr. Ban adds that since many of those engineers are nearing retirement, there is a great need for a new generation of nuclear employees.
“From Bettis, Westinghouse, Bechtel Marine and so many other in the supply chain, employers are telling us not only that they need engineers, but are helping us structure the curriculum so that we educate the best engineer for the field.”
“As long as nuclear energy remains a reliable, clean, efficient and safe energy resource, we will have a greater need for the engineers who can be competitive in the global nuclear energy marketplace, as well as who can develop the next ground-breaking technologies,” Dr. Ban says. “And the Swanson School is at the nexus of this industry that is a critical part of our national safety, from power generation to defense, and a major contributor to reducing carbon emissions worldwide.”
Feng Xiong and Jonathan Malen, received a $500,000 award from the National Science Foundation to develop a thermoelectric semiconductor using tungsten disulfide to convert waste heat into energy. Using a novel doping approach, they will enhance the tungsten disulfide’s electrical conductivity while lowering its thermal conductivity—it will be able to efficiently conduct electricity without conducting heat. Tungsten disulfide is thin and flexible, making it a promising new option with diverse potential uses.
The project length is three years, with a possible extension into a fourth. The award is split between Dr. Xiong’s lab ($270,000) and Dr. Malen’s lab ($230,000). The team will work closely with local communities to encourage students from all backgrounds to explore engineering careers and foster interest in nanotechnology. Outreach efforts will include lab demonstrations, summer internships and career workshops.
The ability to combine continuously tunable narrow-band terahertz (THz) generation that can access both the far-infrared and mid-infrared regimes with nanometer-scale spatial resolution is highly promising for identifying underlying light-matter interactions and realizing selective control of rotational or vibrational resonances in nanoparticles or molecules. Here, we report selective difference frequency generation with over 100 THz bandwidth via femtosecond optical pulse shaping. The THz emission is generated at nanoscale junctions at the interface of LaAlO3/SrTiO3 (LAO/STO) that is defined by conductive atomic force microscope lithography, with the potential to perform THz spectroscopy on individual nanoparticles or molecules. Numerical simulation of the time-domain signal facilitates the identification of components that contribute to the THz generation. This ultra-wide-bandwidth tunable nanoscale coherent THz source transforms the LAO/STO interface into a promising platform for integrated lab-on-chip optoelectronic devices with various functionalities.
Read more here.