Spotlight on new faculty: Yonatan Kahn, High Energy Physics

Jessica Raley for Illinois Physics

The Department of Physics at Illinois welcomes an extraordinary set of ten new faculty members this year. Eight of them have arrived on campus and have begun setting up their labs and settling into life in Champaign-Urbana. Two more faculty are set to arrive in January. We will feature each of them here over the next couple of weeks. Check back regularly to learn more about the exciting work these new faculty members are doing.

Professor Yonatan Kahn (center) talks with professors Patrick Draper (left) and Aida El-Khadra. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Professor Yonatan Kahn (center) talks with professors Patrick Draper (left) and Aida El-Khadra. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Professor Yonatan Kahn

Yoni Kahn is a particle theorist searching for dark matter. His research asks questions such as “What is the mass of the dark matter particle,” “What other particles that we know of does it interact with,” and “How was it created in the early universe”? In the field of dark matter detection, Yoni is best known for the ABRACADABRA experiment, in which theorists and experimentalists worked together to broaden the scope of experiments searching for axion dark matter. This experiment is an example of a project that went from sketches on paper to a real apparatus taking data on a three-year time scale. The quick pace for the development of new experiments is one of the reasons Yoni enjoys doing research on dark matter. He says, “I am optimistic that within my research lifetime we will know whether the most plausible models that we have for dark matter are correct or not.” Yoni also enjoys the fact that his work is inherently interdisciplinary and cites the spirit of collaboration as a key reason for his decision to join the Illinois Physics faculty. 

To learn more about Yoni's research, or to inquire about joining his group, please visit his webpage.


Recent News

  • In Memoriam

Jim was widely viewed as one of the best teachers in the Physics Department. He was frequently listed in the University’s roster of excellent instructors and won awards for his classroom skills. In 2012, he received the Arnold T. Nordsieck Physics Award for Teaching Excellence for his “patient, insightful, and inspiring physics teaching, one problem at a time, that encourages undergraduate students to take their understanding to a new level.”

  • Research

Now a team of theoretical physicists at the Institute for Condensed Matter Theory (ICMT) in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by Illinois Physics Professor Philip Phillips, has for the first time exactly solved a representative model of the cuprate problem, the 1992 Hatsugai-Kohmoto (HK) model of a doped Mott insulator.

  • Alumni News

How do cells use physics to carry out biological processes? Biophysicist Ibrahim Cissé explores this fundamental question in his interdisciplinary laboratory, leveraging super-resolution microscopy to probe the properties of living matter. As a postdoc in 2013, he discovered that RNA polymerase II, a critical protein in gene expression, forms fleeting (“transient”) clusters with similar molecules in order to transcribe DNA into RNA. He joined the Department of Physics in 2014, and was recently granted tenure and a joint appointment in biology. He sat down to discuss how his physics training led him to rewrite the textbook on biology.

  • Quantum Information Science

The Grainger College of Engineering’s Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (IQUIST) will launch a National Science Foundation Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks (HQAN). The collaborative institute spans three Midwest research powerhouses, all of which are members of the Chicago Quantum Exchange: The University of Illinois, University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin. HQAN also includes partnerships with industry and government labs.

Established with a $25 million, five-year NSF award, the HQAN institute will be one of only three Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes in the country. Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes will bring together multidisciplinary researchers and diverse partners to advance scientific, technological, and workforce development goals.