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Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland working with scientists at institutions in Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and the US, have investigated a novel crystalline material, a chiral semimetal, exhibiting never-before-seen electronic properties. These include so-called chiral Rarita-Schwinger fermions in the interior and very long, quadruple topological Fermi arcs on the surface. The crystal, synthesized at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Germany, comprises aluminum and platinum atoms arranged in a helical pattern, like a spiral staircase. It’s the crystal’s chiral symmetry that hosts exotic emergent electronic properties.

These research findings, published online in the journal Nature Physics on May 6, 2019, validate a 2016 theoretical prediction by University of Illinois Physics Professor Barry Bradlyn (then a postdoc at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science), et al., in the journal Science (vol. 353, no. 6299, aaf5037). That theoretical work was subsequently rounded out by a team of physicists at Princeton University, in research published in 2017 and 2018.

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The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology hosted the premiere of Quantum Rhapsodies on April 10. The performance was a part of the Beckman Institute’s 30th anniversary celebration, and April 10 was the 119th anniversary of the birth of Arnold Beckman. Mr. Beckman, with his late wife, Mabel, donated $40 million to found the Beckman Institute on the University of Illinois campus.

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  • Quantum Information Science

Such “escape rooms” have become popular in recent years — immersive games where you and your friends (or strangers) search for clues and solve puzzles to defuse a simulated danger before time runs out.

Paul Kwiat, another University of Illinois physicist, is the creator of this particular escape room, which is one of the few, perhaps the only one, filled with puzzles that are based on science.

  • Accolades

Illinois Physics Senior Academic Advisor Merissa Jones was selected for the 2019 Engineering Council Outstanding Advising Award. This award is presented annually to the top 10 percent of advisers in the College of Engineering. Recipients are nominated and selected by engineering undergraduate students. This is the second year running Jones has received this honor.

“I am genuinely honored to have been nominated for this award. I love what I do and enjoy working with our students. As an advisor, my goal is to help each student to my fullest ability and to enrich their journey through our superb undergraduate programs.”

Illinois Physics Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs and Professor Brian DeMarco comments, “This recognition is well deserved. Merissa plays a central role in our undergraduate programs as our senior (and only) advisor. For her caseload of over 650 physics students, Merissa provides high-quality and compassionate advising on academic and life issues. Her expertise and her master’s degree in educational policies with a concentration in diversity and equity issues are especially valuable to our students. Merissa is also a superstar recruiter who meets with many prospective students and their families. And, she has provided terrific leadership. For example, Merissa developed and manages our peer mentoring program.”

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  • Quantum Information Science

Science News had the opportunity to try out a different version of LabEscape in Boston at a meeting of the American Physical Society in March. The puzzles are effective and artistic, and some of the reveals seem almost magical until the purveyors explain the scientific principles behind them at the end of the game. For example, some puzzles required the use of polarized glasses like those used to watch 3-D movies. Those challenges provided an opportunity to discuss the polarization of light — the orientation of light’s wiggling electromagnetic waves in a preferred direction. Only waves with the appropriate polarization make it through the lenses. The principle also reveals how 3-D movies work: Different polarizations make it through the right and left lenses, sending a different image to each eye.

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Alumnus gift continues legacy of excellence at Illinois Physics

“We deeply appreciate Gary Kelly’s generosity and his investment in our department’s core missions of research, teaching, and outreach,” comments Head of Department and Professor Matthias Grosse Perdekamp. “Unrestricted funds such as these are applied where they will make the greatest impact. Through his generosity, Gary Kelly’s legacy at Illinois will include his support of important new opportunities directly in line with our core missions. A large portion of Gary’s gift will support the research of exceptional women faculty early in their careers, enabling Illinois Physics to attract and retain promising women physicists.”

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Watch the Center for the Physics of Living Cells video

Watch the Center for the Physics of Living Cells video

The Center for the Physics of Living Cells is an NSF Physics Frontiers Center. In true "Urbana style," theoretical and experimental scientists collaborating at the CPLC are elucidating the fundamental processes at the core of life in quantitative physical detail.  The CPLC Summer School is world renowned for its training of young scientists in leading-edge research methods, advancing this interdisciplinary physics frontier.

Why choose Illinois Physics? Here's a video!

Why choose Illinois Physics? Here's a video!

Are you ready to study the glow of black holes? Or how superconductors can carry electricity without resistance? Physics opens the secrets of the universe. Illinois has a long tradition of excellence in physics, and we continue to advance the frontiers of science every day. Watch the video!

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