Spring 2019

Susan Fullerton recognized with James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching Chemical Engineering

  • By Huiling Shao
  • 15 January 2019

Marking her ability to inspire students through novel demonstrations of complex subjects as well as her mentoring of women and underrepresented minorities, PQI member Susan Fullerton was awarded the 2018 James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Department of Chemical and Petroleum  Engineering.

The Pommersheim Award was established by the Department and James M. Pommersheim '70 to recognize departmental faculty in the areas of lecturing, teaching, research methodology, and research mentorship of students. Dr. Pommersheim, formerly Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University, received his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in chemical engineering from Pitt. “Susan’s accomplishments in teaching over such a short period of time speak to the heart of the Pommersheim award. Her imaginative use of hands-on experiments and demonstrations create a tremendous amount of enthusiasm among our students and generate her impressive teaching scores to match,” noted Steven Little, department chair and professor. “Also, Susan’s presentations on the “imposter syndrome” and achieving work-life balance have generated tremendous campus interest.  She has candidly shared her own experiences to help our students understand that feeling like an imposter is normal, and can drive further successes.”

Synthesizing quantum matter with electrons and microwave photons

Dr. Andrew Keller
Thursday, January 24, 2019 - 4:00pm

Experimental research at the nanoscale continues to challenge our ability to predict the behavior of quantum systems. Advances with lithographically patterned solid-state electronic devices have enabled multiple platforms for the simulation of quantum matter. In particular, semiconductor quantum dots and superconducting qubits provide tools for studying the wealth of physics induced by nonlinearities at the single electron and single microwave-photon level, respectively, and have been separately pursued as enabling technologies for qubits. In recent years, hybrid devices that combine such historically distinct lines of research have received greater attention, whether to enable novel sensing or measurement applications, or to couple small systems of qubits together at long range (e.g. quantum transduction). I will showcase the rich behaviors and phases of quantum matter that coupled quantum dots can exhibit, including a surprising transport mechanism called cotunneling drag, signatures of Kondo physics with emergent symmetry , and non-Fermi liquid states. I will also discuss my work towards fabricating superconducting qubits on silicon-on-insulator substrates for hybrid device applications. The integration of quantum dots and superconducting resonators promises to yield new probes for studying quantum matter, and superconducting qubits are coming of age in their own right for the implementation of many-body spin models.

mK to km: How Millikelvin Physics is Reused to Explore the Earth Kilometers Below the Surface

Dr. Robert Kleinberg
Monday, January 28, 2019 - 4:00pm

Robert L. Kleinberg is an Adjunct Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy of the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.  From 1980 to 2018 he was employed by Schlumberger, attaining the rank of Schlumberger Fellow, one of about a dozen who hold this rank in a workforce of 100,000. He has served on or advised numerous government and academic committees on energy policy, and is a coauthor with Harvard faculty of a textbook on energy technology, in preparation. Dr. Kleinberg was educated at the University of California, Berkeley (B.S. Chemistry, 1971) and the University of California, San Diego (Ph.D. Physics, 1978). From 1978 to 1980 he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Exxon Corporate Research Laboratory in Linden, NJ. His work at Schlumberger focused on geophysical measurements and the characterization and delineation of unconventional fossil fuel resources. His current interests include energy technology and economics. Dr. Kleinberg has authored more than 100 academic and professional papers, holds 38 U.S. patents, and is the inventor of several geophysical instruments that have been commercialized on a worldwide basis. He is the recipient of the 2018-2019 American Physical Society Distinguished Lectureship Award on the Applications of Physics, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy.

Roger Mong and Jacob Tevis received NSF career award

  • By Huiling Shao
  • 8 January 2019

Roger Mong and Jacob Tevis were recognized by the National Science Foundation CAREER award. Roger Mong aims to develop and study a wide collection of quantum phenomena that may be used in the next step of the quantum revolution. The goal of his project is to study how quantum behavior can survive beyond the microscopic regime. Roger Mong and his team will look for ways in which fundamental particles, such as electrons, can be bound together similarly to how atoms form molecules. Tevis Jacobs’ research seeks to enable the rational design of new and better stabilizing support materials by elucidating the dependence of particle coarsening on the supporting surface structure. His investigation will develop new approaches to measure the attachment and stability of nanoparticles on well-defined surfaces under various conditions, enabling the rational engineering of surfaces to optimize the performance and lifetime of the nanoparticles. 

Jennifer Laaser and Susan Fullerton received NSF career award

  • By Huiling Shao
  • 1 January 2019

Jennifer Lasser and Susan Fullerton were recognized by the National Science Foundation CAREER award. Jennifer Laaser's research will investigate how the structure and dynamics of polymeric networks influence force-driven processes at the molecular scale, and will develop curricular materials and outreach activities aimed at promoting education and diversity in polymer science.  Susan Fullerton’s research investigation aims to continue shrinking the size and power consumption of electronics with new materials and new engineering approaches. She approaches this challenge by development of super-thin “all 2D” materials, whic are similar to a sheet of paper – if the paper were only a single molecule thick. 

Electrically conductive metal-organic frameworks: insights from theory

Christopher Hendon
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 4:00pm

Porous electrical conductors are a desirable yet evasive class of materials that would play a key role in the development of novel electrical energy storage devices. Their high surface area and electrical conductivity enable the uptake of electrolyte into their pores, forming the basis for a supercapacitive device. Metal-organic frameworks are an emerging subset of porous materials with fleeting reports of electrical conductivity suitably high for super capacitor implementation. This talk discusses our efforts to understand what gives rise to conductivity in metal-organic frameworks, and...

Understanding Molecular and Hybrid Crystals from First Principles

Leeor Kronik
Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 2:30pm

Molecular crystals are crystalline solids composed of molecules bound together by relatively weak intermolecular interactions, typically consisting of van der Waals interactions and/or hydrogen bonds. Hybrid crystals combine molecular units and covalent/ionic networks.

Both classes of crystals play an important role in many areas of science and engineering, ranging from biology and medicine to mechanics and electronics. Therefore, much effort has been dedicated to understanding their structure and properties.

Predicting the behavior of such materials from first


PRL at 60: You have your physics results, now what?

Dr. Samindranath Mitra
Monday, March 25, 2019 - 4:00pm

In a talk that I am really hoping will morph into a free-flowing Q and A session, I will discuss the role that PRL plays in disseminating your physics results. The process is a cascading sequence that entails interacting with journal editors, referees, conference chairs, journalists, department chairs, deans, funding agencies, and others. The tools however have changed in recent years; the arrival of social media, search engines, and electronic repositories has us in a state of flux. PRL published its first paper 60 years ago. Let's look back and forward.

A Gap Protected zero-Hall Effect State in a Semimetal with Glide Symmetry

Dr. Nai Phuan Ong
Monday, February 18, 2019 - 4:00pm

Abstract: A new direction in topological quantum matter research is the exploration of the large class of nonsymmorphic metals which include glide symmetry operations in their space group (a glide gx =Mx.T is a mirror reflection Mx combined with a fractional translation T in the mirror plane). The layered material KHgSb is analogous to stacking graphene together with distinct ions in the A and B sublattices. A half-lattice translation between adjacent layers renders it nonsymmorphic. KHgSb has been predicted to feature double quantum spin Hall (QSH) surface states in addition to hourglass...