Spring 2020

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

Speaker(s): 
Arthur Davidson
Dates: 
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...

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.

POSTPONED: Electron Dynamics in Materials from First Principles

Speaker(s): 
Marco Bernardi
Dates: 
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 4:00pm

Recent progress in combining density functional theory and related methods with the Boltzmann transport equation are enabling spectacular advances in computing electron dynamics in materials from first principles. The interaction between electrons and lattice vibrations (phonons) plays a central role as it governs carrier dynamics near room temperature and at low energy. I will present our recently developed methods to compute electron-phonon scattering processes from first principles, and show how these advances enable calculations of electron dynamics in materials, including: 1) First-...

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.

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