Nadya Mason Selected for 2018-19 Defense Science Study Group

Caitlin Shea McCoy for Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory
4/25/2017

Nadya Mason poses with some of her graduate students in her laboratory in the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Nadya Mason poses with some of her graduate students in her laboratory in the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Physics Professor Nadya Mason has been selected for the 2018-19 Defense Science Study Group (DSSG). The DSSG is a program of education and study that introduces outstanding science and engineering professors to United States’ security challenges and encourages the scholars to apply their talents to these issues.

“It’s a great honor to have been selected for the 2018 DSSG class,” Mason shares. “I’m excited about the unique opportunity to learn more about our nation’s security issues and the technical challenges that face us… and the geek in me also looks forward to seeing some cool airplanes, ships and submarines!”

Started in 1986, this program is directed by the non-profit Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). According to the DSSG site, this program is an investment in the future. Although there are almost 200 alumni, this is a highly selective program, with only 18 people selected from across the country every two years.

“This is a rather significant honor,” Professor and Director of the Materials Research Lab Paul Braun comments. “We are very happy for Professor Mason and excited to see what she is able to do with this group.”

Each group meets approximately 20 days per year for those two years. During these sessions, members focus on defense policy, related research and development, and the systems, missions, and operations of the armed forces and the intelligence community.

“Illinois has had excellent representation among DSSG classes from the beginning, so it’s an additional pleasure to be continuing the Illinois tradition,” Mason adds.

 

Recent News

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Condensed Matter Experiment
  • Condensed Matter Theory

One of the greatest mysteries in condensed matter physics is the exact relationship between charge order and superconductivity in cuprate superconductors. In superconductors, electrons move freely through the material—there is zero resistance when it’s cooled below its critical temperature. However, the cuprates simultaneously exhibit superconductivity and charge order in patterns of alternating stripes. This is paradoxical in that charge order describes areas of confined electrons. How can superconductivity and charge order coexist?  

Now researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, collaborating with scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, have shed new light on how these disparate states can exist adjacent to one another. Illinois Physics post-doctoral researcher Matteo Mitrano, Professor Peter Abbamonte, and their team applied a new x-ray scattering technique, time-resolved resonant soft x-ray scattering, taking advantage of the state-of-the-art equipment at SLAC. This method enabled the scientists to probe the striped charge order phase with an unprecedented energy resolution. This is the first time this has been done at an energy scale relevant to superconductivity.

  • Alumni News
  • In the Media

Will Hubin was one of those kids whose wallpaper and bed sheets were covered in airplanes and who loved building model airplanes. By the time he took his first flight in the late 1940s, he was hooked.

Now, he shares his passion for planes with children by taking them for their first flight, at no charge, in his four-seat 2008 Diamond DA-40 aircraft through the local Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program.

“It’s a lot of fun and pretty rewarding. Anyone who loves flying likes to introduce others to it. It’s true of anything, any hobbyist. Some will talk constantly but they’re ecstatic,” said Hubin, a retired Kent State University physics professor.

Hubin learned to fly in 1962 when he was earning a doctorate in physics at the University of Illinois and has been flying ever since, adding commercial, instrument, instructor, multi-engine and seaplane ratings.

  • Research
  • Theoretical Biological Physics
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

While watching the production of porous membranes used for DNA sorting and sequencing, University of Illinois researchers wondered how tiny steplike defects formed during fabrication could be used to improve molecule transport. They found that the defects – formed by overlapping layers of membrane – make a big difference in how molecules move along a membrane surface. Instead of trying to fix these flaws, the team set out to use them to help direct molecules into the membrane pores.

Their findings are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Nanopore membranes have generated interest in biomedical research because they help researchers investigate individual molecules – atom by atom – by pulling them through pores for physical and chemical characterization. This technology could ultimately lead to devices that can quickly sequence DNA, RNA or proteins for personalized medicine.

  • In Memoriam

We are saddened to report that John Robert Schrieffer, Nobel laureate and alumnus of the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, passed away on July 27, 2019, in Tallahassee, Florida. He was 88 years old.

Schrieffer was the “S” in the famous BCS theory of superconductivity, one of the towering achievements of 20th century theoretical physics, which he co-developed with his Ph.D advisor Professor John Bardeen and postdoctoral colleague Dr. Leon N. Cooper. At the time that Schrieffer began working with Bardeen and Cooper, superconductivity was regarded as one of the major challenges in physics. Since the discovery of the hallmark feature of superconductivity in 1911—the zero resistance apparently experienced by a current in a metal at temperatures near absolute zero—a long list of famous theoretical physicists had attempted to understand the phenomenon, including Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Richard Feynman, Lev Landau, Felix Bloch, Werner Heisenberg and John Bardeen himself (who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his co-invention of the transistor at around the time that Schrieffer began working with him in 1956).