Spring 2020

New Opportunity for PQI Students: PQI Liaisons

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 6 May 2020

PQI is amassing an army of liaisons (one student/postdoc contact from each advisor's group) because we want to highlight the successes of our PQI members and improve the resources we offer - and that requires member feedback and communication. PQI Liaisons act as a direct link between the labs and PQI to ensure that we feature the latest exciting news and accomplishments from our members and that we can provide more personalized support for your needs.

This is especially important in lieu of our social hours where we would normally mingle and socialize with you in-person over tasty treats at our office. Pictured to the left are your friendly PQI Director, Jeremy Levy (middle), and Executive Co-Directors, Jenny Stein (left) and Ke Xu (right). PQI Administrator, Barbara DelRaso, is not pictured because she works harder than the rest of us just taking it easy during last year's Ice Cream Social.

If someone in your group would like to fill this role, which is compensated with PQubits, please reach out to us at communication@pqi.org or jennifer.stein@pqi.org.

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!

POSTPONED: Rings and tunnel junctions: Quantum mechanics on a circle

Arthur Davidson
Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 4:00pm

We show by standard quantum principles that two circuits, a small tunnel junction and a small metal loop with an electron, are related by a gauge transformation.  We show further that this same transform prevents momentum eigenfunctions from having gauge invariant de Broglie wave lengths around a ring. Thus persistent current on a metal ring and the Coulomb blockade on a small tunnel junction seem to be the same dynamical theory based on discontinuous Bloch waves on the perimeter of a circle. This is historically an area of simple quantum circuits where the principle of gauge invariance...