Spring 2018

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Course Proposals

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 20 March 2018

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Pitt is seeking course proposals for its Fall 2018 Term. OLLI courses are typically 1x a week for 5 weeks. Each term offers 2 sessions of courses. We seek course proposals in a variety of areas including: literature, history, political science and government, the arts, sciences, languages and more. Most OLLI designed courses are similar to actual college courses (but no tests or grades, abbreviated content, and shortened to run for 5 weeks).

OLLI Instructors are often university professors and instructors, visiting lecturers, Postdoctoral fellows, and others with content and teaching expertise. Instructors in the program are paid. Course proposals for Fall term are due by April 27.

Google Quantum-Hardware Lab Visit!

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 16 March 2018

PQI always assists to organize an educational and informative visit in the development of Quantum Science, encouraging the collaborations between various industry and academia.

On March 9th, 2018, four students and one postdoc from University of Pittsburgh were invited to visit Google Quantum-Hardware lab at UC Santa Barbara which was organized by PQI. Eric Ostby and Pedram Roushan, Research Scientists at Google were helped us to arrange this visit.

Google's research team do work hard to build a quantum computer which will be millions of times more powerful than today’s supercomputers. Such visit helps to initiate more academic people to get involved in such projects, playing a hub role for quantum technologies.


In Pursuit of an Immortal Cathode: Electrical Energy Storage using MnO2 Nanowires that Never Die

Reginald Penner
Friday, March 16, 2018 - 9:30am to 10:30am

Rechargeable lithium ion (Li+) batteries lose their ability to store charge over time.  Whether they power your phone, your laptop, or your automobile, after 500-1000 recharge cycles they lose 20-40% of their capacity and must be replaced. Sony introduced the first commercial  Li+ battery in 1990, but 27 years later our understanding of WHY they fail is still in its infancy.  Li+ batteries have four parts:  An anode (usually graphite), a cathode (usually a metal oxide), a separator membrane that is located between them, and a salt solution containing Li+.  In our research, we have focused attention on one cathode material called ∂-MnO2.   Our goals have been to increase the amount of energy we can store, to increase the rate at which we can deliver this energy, and to extend the lifetime of the cathode.  Now, you might think that the worst way to make a battery cathode last longer would be to make it smaller!  But we have discovered a process for preparing ∂-MnOnanowires  - just 60 – 600 nm in diameter and up to a centimeter in length – that never fail, and rarely lose any energy storage capacity, across 100,000 charge/recharge cycles.   In this talk, I’ll discuss these unusual nanomaterials and what they may mean for the future of electrical energy storage.

Dear Colleague Letter: Enabling Quantum Leap in Chemistry

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 13 March 2018

NSF recently unveiled 10 Big Ideas — bold, long-term research and process ideas at the frontiers of science and engineering.1 Among these ideas, Quantum Leap aims to exploit quantum mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement to develop next-generation technologies for sensing, computing, modeling, and communication. In the Fall of 2016, the Division of Chemistry (CHE) sponsored a workshop entitled "Quantum Information and Computation for Chemistry",2 led by Alán Aspuru-Guzik of Harvard University and Michael Wasielewski of Northwestern University to explore the relevance of Quantum Leap to the field of chemistry. The workshop identified areas where chemists can contribute to Quantum Leap and areas where advances in Quantum Leap can enable the solution of intractable chemical problems. To follow up on the recommendations of the workshop, the CHE invites submission of supplemental funding requests and EAGER (EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research) (EAGER) proposals on Quantum Leap.

This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) emphasizes molecular approaches towards problems in quantum computing, sensing, communicating, etc.

Mermin in Bananaworld: Bub on Quantum Mechanics

Michel Janssen
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

 In the 1980s, David Mermin derived a simple example of a Bell inequality and showed that it is violated in measurements on entangled quantum systems. In this talk, I reanalyze Mermin’s example, using correlation arrays, the workhorse in Jeffrey Bub’s Bananaworld (2016). For the class of all non-signaling correlations conceivable in the kind of experiment considered by Mermin, I derive both the Bell inequality, a necessary condition for such correlations to be allowed classically, and the Tsirelson bound, a necessary condition for them to be allowed quantum-mechanically. I show that the Tsirelson bound for these experiments follows directly from the geometry going into their quantum-mechanical analysis. I use this example to promote Bubism (not to be confused with QBism though both are information-theoretic approaches to the foundations of quantum mechanics). I do so by comparing the rules for probabilities in quantum mechanics, illustrated by my Bubist reanalysis of Mermin’s example, to the rules for spatio-temporal behavior in special relativity.

How will online learning change the future of STEM courses?

Zhongzhou Chen
Monday, March 12, 2018 - 4:30pm

The concept of “courses ” has not changed much over centuries. However, online learning technology is quickly starting to challenge our understanding of what it means by a “course”. The abundance of online learning resources challenges the role of courses being the disseminators of knowledge, while the high registration numbers and low finishing numbers of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) challenges not only the necessity to “pass” a course, but also the optimum length and scope of a course. Given the fact that more than 70% of today’s undergraduate students are non-traditional in one way or another, it might be a good time to think about how online learning technology might help to evolve the structure of courses to accommodate an increasingly diverse student population. In this workshop, I will initiate the discussion of “what might a future STEM course look like”, by introducing three relatively old ideas: mastery-based learning, flipped or blended classroom , and modularized instructional design. I will talk about how those ideas, when combined with the latest online learning technologies, might re-shape how students take a course, how teachers teach a course, and how instructors create a course , especially for STEM disciplines. We will also brainstorm about what STEM instructors can do to embrace the possible changes ahead.

The Science for Failed Public Policy: Why Congress Doesn’t Fund Research

Milan Yager
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Introduction: In the halls of Congress there is widespread agreement about the role of R&D in the success of the America’s most innovative corporations. However, too often lawmakers view government models of discovery, from NASA to public university research labs, as obsolete and costly superstructures in today’s .com marketplace. What happened to the case for public exploration and discovery and why shouldn’t the private sector be trusted to find the cure for Grandma’s dementia or Johnny’s brain tumor? Long-time Washington political insider, former lobbyist, Administration appointee, and AIMBE’s Executive Director, Milan Yager, will reveal the hidden truth about why Congress doesn’t fund needed biomedical research.

Results and Discussion: This presentation will highlight innovations and achievements made possible from past federal investments in basic research; such as the internet, wireless communications, even mapping the human genome. Today, Congress seems less interested in past accomplishments as they assume new priorities to balance the budget, reduce government, and free the private sector to assume long-standing government responsibilities for innovation and discovery. How did Congress make spending decisions to permit federal R&D spending to be flat for over a decade? Learn about why Congress is no long accountable for reduce investments in basic research. Discover three secrets to making a winning case for federal funding for medical and biological research. Learn practical steps to successfully getting your point across to a Member of Congress. Find out how to brand your research as the Sputnik in the race to cure cancer, manage chronic disease, or Type I diabetes.

Conclusions: Arming yourself with the strategies for the political warfare in the case for innovation is more than just changing public policy; it can provide the key to changing the future landscape of new biomedical materials, products or procedures. Attendees will get insight into America’s next biomedical “moonshot” initiative.

Chiral nanocluster with open shell electronic structure and helical face-centered cubic framework

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 2 March 2018

Owing to high surface to volume ratios and chemical potential, nanoparticles possess unique optical, electrical, and thermal properties, which constitute the basis of novel applications in sensing, catalysis, nanoelectronics, bio-tagging etc. Despite the great advances in the synthesis, the total structure determination of nanoclusters still remains to be a major challenge. Recently Hyung J. Kim and their colleagues have reported the synthesis and crystal structure of a nanocluster composed of 23 silver atoms capped by 8 phosphine and 18 phenylethanethiolate ligands in the journal of Nature Communications.