News

The University of Illinois has received a three-year, $1 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to continue funding for the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Illinois. The program, started in 2015, supports underrepresented minority doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and math fields and is one of nine UCEMs throughout the country.

The UCEM emphasizes mentoring, professional development and social activities to build a community of scholars. The center hosts an extensive orientation program for new students, workshops and seminars in addition to financial support in the form of scholarships. The center also works with departments to set up a mentoring team for each scholar and monitors academic and research progress.

  • Events

Sir Anthony Leggett, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, turned 80 years old on March 26. To celebrate, the Department of Physics is hosting a physics symposium in his honor, with participants coming from around the world. The symposium, “AJL@80: Challenges in Quantum Foundations, Condensed Matter Physics and Beyond,” is targeted for physicists and requires pre-registeration. It begins tonight, Thursday evening, and will go through Saturday evening (March 29 – 31, 2018).

In conjunction with the symposium, two public presentations will be offered back-to-back on Friday, March 30, starting at 7:30 p.m., at the I Hotel and Conference Center’s Illini Ballroom. (1900 S. First St., Champaign). There is no admission fee and registration is not required—all are welcome.

  • In the Media
  • Biological Physics

In a paper in Nano Letters ("Optical Voltage Sensing Using DNA Origami"), a research team, led by Keyser, Philip Tinnefeld from the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at Technical University Braunschweig, and Aleksei Aksimentiev from the University of Illinois at urbana-Champaign, has now reported for the first time, that a voltage can be read out in a nanopore with a dedicated Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensor on a DNA origami.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Theory
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Researchers have produced a “human scale” demonstration of a new phase of matter called quadrupole topological insulators that was recently predicted using theoretical physics. These are the first experimental findings to validate this theory.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Nature.

The team’s work with QTIs was born out of the decade-old understanding of the properties of a class of materials called topological insulators. “TIs are electrical insulators on the inside and conductors along their boundaries, and may hold great potential for helping build low-power, robust computers and devices, all defined at the atomic scale,” said mechanical science and engineering professor and senior investigator Gaurav Bahl.

The uncommon properties of TIs make them a special form of electronic matter. “Collections of electrons can form their own phases within materials. These can be familiar solid, liquid and gas phases like water, but they can also sometimes form more unusual phases like a TI,” said co-author and physics professor Taylor Hughes.

  • Outreach

LabEscape is calling all agents back to the lab to solve the continuing mystery of the disappearance of Professor Schrödenberg, a University of Illinois physicist who developed a top-secret quantum computer that can crack any digital-security encryption code in the world. Once again, it’s up to you and your team to save the free world from evil forces plotting its destruction, and you have precisely 60 minutes to do it. Mysterious circumstances and new intelligence have reopened this investigation—unhackable messages were hacked three days ago, there are power surges coming from Dr. S’s abandoned secret lab, and her missing technology and a hard drive that were lost before her disappearance have now resurfaced.

LabEscape, a science-themed escape room at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, first opened in January 2017. Paul Kwiat, a physics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, initiated the nonprofit LabEscape project two years ago as a community outreach effort, with the goal of showing that science can be fun, beautiful, useful, and accessible to all.

  • In the Media
  • Condensed Matter Experiment
  • Condensed Matter Physics

On Thursdays throughout the semester, staff writer Adalberto Toledo will book an appointment with a UI professor. Today: physics professor NADYA MASON, director of the new Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

Because the muon can emit and reabsorb any particle, its magnetism tallies all possible particles—even new ones too massive for the LHC to make. Other charged particles could also sample this unseen zoo, says Aida El-Khadra, a theorist at the University of Illinois in Urbana. But, she adds, "The muon hits the sweet spot of being light enough to be long-lived and heavy enough to be sensitive to new physics."

  • Research
  • Biological Physics
  • Astrophysics

There is remarkable biodiversity in all but the most extreme ecosystems on Earth. When many species are competing for the same finite resource, a theory called competitive exclusion suggests one species will outperform the others and drive them to extinction, limiting biodiversity. But this isn’t what we observe in nature. Theoretical models of population dynamics have not presented a fully satisfactory explanation for what has come to be known as the diversity paradox.

  • Events

As acting president of Ginling College, Minnie Vautrin (Illinois class of 1912) sheltered more than 10,000 Chinese women from rape and deadly violence during the Nanjing Massacre. The Program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security (ACDIS) at Illinois will host a symposium recalling the history of the Sino-Japanese war and honoring Vautrin. The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II: The Massacre of Nanjing will be held on December 16, 2017, at the Levis Faculty Center, Room 300, 919 West Illinois Street, Urbana.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Excitonium has a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign… well… excited! Professor of Physics Peter Abbamonte and graduate students Anshul Kogar and Mindy Rak, with input from colleagues at Illinois, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Amsterdam, have proven the existence of this enigmatic new form of matter, which has perplexed scientists since it was first theorized almost 50 years ago.

The team studied non-doped crystals of the oft-analyzed transition metal dichalcogenide titanium diselenide (1T-TiSe2) and reproduced their surprising results five times on different cleaved crystals. University of Amsterdam Professor of Physics Jasper van Wezel provided crucial theoretical interpretation of the experimental results.

  • In the Media
  • Our History

In 1950, the physicist Arnold Nordsieck built himself this analog computer. Nordsieck, then at the University of Illinois, had earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, under Robert Oppenheimer. To make his analog computer for calculating differential equations, the inventive and budget-conscious Nordsieck relied on US $700 worth of military surplus parts, particularly synchros—specialized motors that translate the position of the shaft into an electrical signal, and vice versa.

  • Accolades
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

Assistant Professor Bryce Gadway of the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been selected for the 2017 U.S. Air Force Young Investigator Research Program. Gadway is among 43 early-career scientists and engineers nationwide to receive this three-year award of $450,000. U.S. Air Force Young Investigators are selected based on demonstrated exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research in scientific and engineering areas identified as strategic to the US Air Force mission.

  • In the Media

A company founded by a University of Illinois physics professor has raised more than $1.5 million in venture funding this year, graduated from the UI Research Park's EnterpriseWorks incubator and this week announced it was selected for a project by NASA.

At its new 12,000-square-foot facility on Kenyon Road near Interstate 74 in Champaign, Inprentus manufactures diffraction gratings, an advanced prism of sorts used in laboratories around the world.

The company was founded by Peter Abbamonte in 2012.