Why does the space shuttle returning to Earth cause two separate sonic booms?
By Celia Elliott
October 15, 2010
"We are extremely pleased that the Packard Foundation has provided this national recognition of Benjamin's superb technical achievements and extraordinary promise," said Physics Department Head Dale J. Van Harlingen. "He has become a very active player in our physics research portfolio in Urbana. His merger of experiment and theory from both AMO and condensed matter physics should contribute to important breakthroughs in our understanding of strongly correlated quantum matter, the development of new architectures for quantum computation, and the development of new ultrasensitive probes for magnetic- and electric-field imaging."
Lev plans to use the Packard Fellowship to, for the first time, generate, detect, and manipulate exotic soft quantum states of matter, supersolids and superglasses, by confining a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) in an atom-light crystal formed between concave mirrors in a multimode optical cavity.
Lev received his bachelor's degree in physics from Princeton University in 1999, graduating magna cum laude. He earned a doctorate in physics from Caltech in 2005, working in the quantum optics group of Hideo Mabuchi. His thesis research involved the development of novel atom chip techniques for the tight confinement and manipulation ultracold atoms and BECs.
As a National Research Council postdoctoral research fellow (2006-2007), Lev worked with Jun Ye at JILA (Boulder) on the Stark deceleration of polar molecules. His work focused on the magnetic trapping of ground state polar molecules in the presence of tunable electric fields, which he and his JILA colleagues demonstrated for the first time in 2006. Lev joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois in January 2008.
Lev's research program at Illinois explores uncharted regimes of strongly correlated matter by pushing the experimental state-of-the-art in atomic physics, quantum optics, and condensed matter physics. In addition to investigating supersolids and superglasses, his group strives to create quantum liquid crystals through the use of strong, long-range, and anisotropic atomic dipolar interactions. Lev demonstrated the first laser cooling of dysprosium to ultracold temperatures in 2009, a necessary step toward creating quantum liquid crystals. In addition, Lev plans to use this most magnetic atom as a probe in novel microscopes possessing unsurpassed sensitivity and resolution for the imaging of strongly correlated materials, such as high-temperature superconductors.
Since 1988, the Packard Foundation has supported a total of 69 early-career physicists. Each year, the presidents of the nation's top 50 research universities are invited to nominate up to two faculty members--from all disciplines of science and engineering--for the Packard Fellowship. Lev is the 11th Packard Fellow from the University of Illinois, and the first from the Department of Physics.
Lev received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award in 2009.
If you have questions about the Department of Physics or ideas for other stories, contact Siv Schwink, 217.300.2201
Department of Physics 1110 West Green Street Urbana, IL 61801-3080Physics Library | Contact Us | My.Physics | Privacy Statement | Copyright Statement