News

  • Faculty Highlights
  • Condensed Matter Experiment
  • Quantum Information Science

Angela Kou is a new faculty member joining Illinois Physics and the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (IQUIST) in August 2020.

  • Faculty Highlights
  • Quantum Information Science

Wolfgang Pfaff is a quantum information physicist who will join the University of Illinois in June 2020. His research focuses on developing ways to transfer quantum information betweensuperconducting qubits, as well as trying to understand how quantum information might be communicated by cable in networks of multiple chips.

  • Outreach
  • Biological Physics

As part of a campus-wide initiative to increase diversity, a collaboration with Fisk University was recently approved for an additional five years of continued financial support from the Office of Executive Associate Chancellor for Administration and University Relations and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCRI). Founder Professor of Physics Jun Song (ACPP) will oversee hands-on bioinformatics, data analysis, and biophysics training for under-represented minority undergraduate students from Fisk University, a minority-serving institution (MSI) in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • Alumni News

Illinois Physics alumna Laura Niklason, Yale Nicholas M. Greene Professor in Anesthesia and Biomedical Engineering, received a pleasant surprise on Feb. 7: news that she had been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE). After graduating from Illinois in 1983 with her bachelor's degree in physics, Niklason went on to receive a PhD in biophysics and theoretical biology from University of Chicago and an MD from the University of Michigan. She has made a profound impact in the field of tissue engineering, specializing in cardiovascular and pulmonary regeneration.

  • Accolades
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Two University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign scientists are among 126 recipients of the 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This honor is one of the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early career researchers. 

This year’s Illinois recipients are physics professor Barry Bradlyn and electrical and computer engineering professor Zhizhen Zhao.

  • Accolades
  • Biological Physics

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Physics Professor Paul Selvin has been awarded the 2020 Gregorio Weber Award for Excellence in Fluorescence Theory and Applications of the Biological Fluorescence Subgroup of the Biophysical Society. The award is endowed by the ISS (Instrumenzione Scientificia Sperimentale). ISS, located in Champaign, IL, designs and manufactures highly sensitive fluorescence and biomedical instrumentation for research, clinical, and industrial applications.

Named for Illinois Biochemistry Professor Gregorio Weber, a pioneer in the development of both the theory and the application of fluorescence techniques in biology and biochemistry, this award recognizes distinguished individuals who have made original and significant contributions to the field of fluorescence.

Selvin has developed ground-breaking fluorescence instrumentation and techniques at the intersection of physics and biochemistry, shedding new light on the properties and behaviors of biomolecules in living cells. Early in his career, he devised the lanthanide resonance energy transfer (LRET) technique to investigate the chemical properties and structural dynamics of DNA systems. The LRET technique, which offered a 100-fold improvement in signal-to-background resolution over conventional techniques, is now widely used by the pharmaceutical industry for drug discovery.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

An international team of scientists has discovered an exotic new form of topological state in a large class of 3D semi-metallic crystals called Dirac semimetals. The researchers developed extensive mathematical machinery to bridge the gap between theoretical models with forms of “higher-order” topology (topology that manifests only at the boundary of a boundary) and the physical behavior of electrons in real materials.

  • Alumni News

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has named Austin Gerig as its Chief Data Officer. Dr. Gerig, currently Assistant Director of the Office of Data Science in the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA), will assume his new position on Feb. 3.

The Chief Data Officer will help develop the SEC’s data management strategy and priorities, enable data analytics to support enforcement, examinations, and policymaking, and ensure that the agency collects only the data it needs to fulfill its mission and can effectively secure.

  • Alumni News

As John Alsterda neared the end of his assignment at the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School in South Carolina, he decided it was time to pursue his dream of earning a doctorate.Initially, he planned to study nuclear engineering.

But Alsterda changed course after watching a self-driving coupe named Shelley zip around a racetrack at 120 mph in a video published by the Dynamic Design Lab, which is part of the Mechanical Engineering Department in Stanford’s School of Engineering

  • In the Media
  • Student News
  • Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics
  • Quantum Information Science

When it comes to furthering our overall understanding of the physical world, ultracold quantum gases are awfully promising. As the famous physicist Richard Feynman argued, to fully understand nature, we need quantum means of simulation and computation. Ultracold atomic systems have, in the last 30 years, proven to be amazing quantum simulators. The number of applications for these systems as such simulators is nothing short of overwhelming, ranging from engineering artificial crystals to providing new platforms for quantum computing. In its brief history, ultracold atomic experimental research has enhanced physicists’ understanding of a truly vast array of important phenomena.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

A Majorana particle is a fermion that is its own anti-particle. Majorana particles were postulated to exist by Ettore Majorana in a now famous paper written in 1937. However, such particles have not  been discovered in nature to date.  The possible realization of Majorana particles in condensed matter systems has generated much excitement and revived interest in observing these particles, especially because the condensed matter realization may be useful for topological quantum computation. A new paper by Illinois Physics Professor Vidya Madhavan and collaborators recently published in Science shows the first evidence for propagating 1D Majorana modes realized at 1D domain walls in a superconductor  FeSexTe1−x

  • In the Media

Albert Einstein was right again. More than 100 years ago, his calculations suggested that when too much energy or matter is concentrated in one place, it will collapse in on itself and turn into a dark vortex of nothingness. Physicists found evidence to support Einstein’s black hole concept, but they’d never observed one directly. In 2017, 200-plus scientists affiliated with more than 60 institutions set out to change that, using eight global radio observatories to chart the sky for 10 days. In April they released their findings, which included an image of a dark circle surrounded by a fiery doughnut (the galaxy Messier 87), 55 million light years away and 6.5 billion times more massive than our sun. “We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” said Shep Doeleman, leader of what came to be known as the Event Horizon Telescope team. The team’s name refers to the edge of a black hole, the point beyond which light and matter cannot escape. In some ways, the first picture of a black hole is also the first picture of nothing.

Institute for Condensed Matter Theory in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently received a five-year grant of over $1 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The grant is part of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems (EPiQS) Initiative, which strives to catalyze major discoveries in the field of quantum materials—solids and engineered structures characterized by novel quantum phases of matter and exotic cooperative behaviors of electrons. This is the second 5-year EPiQS grant awarded to the ICMT by the Moore Foundation. The two awards establish an EPiQS Theory Center at the Institute for Condensed Matter Theory.

  • Outreach
  • Accessibility

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign physics graduate student Colin Lualdi quickly realized he was venturing into uncharted territory when he arrived at Illinois Physics at the start of Fall 2017. Deaf since birth and a native speaker of American Sign Language (ASL), Lualdi was now among a very small group worldwide of Deaf individuals working in physics. The exhilaration of performing cutting-edge research was accompanied by a sobering discovery: the lack of a common language model for effective scientific discourse in ASL was going to be a far greater challenge than he’d anticipated. Lualdi has embraced his own accessibility challenges as an opportunity to address a pressing need in the broader Deaf community. He has teamed up with colleagues at other research institutions to develop a robust and shared framework for scientific discourse in ASL. Specifically, Colin has been working with ASL Clear and ASLCORE, two national scientific sign language initiatives that are making good progress.