Why does the space shuttle returning to Earth cause two separate sonic booms?
By Celia Elliott
April 10, 2012
Associate Professor of Physics Brian DeMarco will receive a 2012 College of Engineering Dean's Award for Excellence in Research. The award, formerly called the Xerox Award for Senior Faculty Research, is presented annually to outstanding young faculty in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois for extraordinary research accomplishments. DeMarco was recognized for his ground-breaking work on the behavior of ultracold atoms confined in atomic lattices to simulate the quantum behavior of condensed matter systems. He will be presented with the award on Monday, April 23, at 6:00 p.m. in the NCSA Auditorium.
DeMarco received his bachelor’s degree in physics, with a mathematics minor, from SUNY at Geneseo in 1996, graduating summa cum laude. He earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2001), where he extended magnetic trapping and evaporative cooling techniques used to produce Bose–Einstein condensates to create the first quantum degenerate Fermi gas of atoms. His achievement was ranked as one of the top ten scientific discoveries in 1999 by Science.
After serving as a postdoc at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in David Wineland's group at Boulder, where he developed improved quantum logic elements and used trapped ions to scale up quantum information processing systems, DeMarco joined the Department of Physics at Illinois in 2003. Exploiting the experience he gained on two different quantum systems as a graduate student and postdoc, DeMarco embarked on a bold and aggressive research program to create a laboratory-scale "quantum simulator," using ultracold atom gases trapped in a lattice created by intersecting laser beams.
"Brian's pioneering work has opened a whole new world of opportunities for elucidating the quantum behavior of a wide range of many-body systems that are intractable to even supercomputer modeling—opportunities that many researchers worldwide are just starting to recognize," said Physics department head Dale J. Van Harlingen. "Brian is at the forefront of this emerging field," according to Van Harlingen.
DeMarco and his students made headlines last fall when they were the first to demonstrate three-dimensional Anderson localization of quantum matter waves. Understanding the mechanism of Anderson localization—the cessation of the propagation of waves in a disordered medium—is critical to understanding the effects of impurities and defects in three-dimensional conduction. DeMarco's work thus has important implications for understanding the behavior of ultrasonic waves used in medical imaging, photonic effects in materials, and electron transport in semiconductors and superconductors.
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