Spotlight on new faculty: Jorge Jose Leite Noronha, Nuclear 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 Jorge Noronha explains the causality and stability properties of relativistic fluids.
Professor Jorge Noronha explains the causality and stability properties of relativistic fluids.

Professor Jorge Jose Leite Noronha

Jorge Noronha is a nuclear theorist whose primary interest is in the out-of-equilibrium behavior of relativistic systems under extreme conditions. The primary example of such a system is the quark-gluon plasma—the smallest and hottest most perfect fluid found in nature—which is formed in ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions. His previous work has shed new light on the far-from-equilibrium dynamics of relativistic many-body systems. Jorge is perhaps best known for his work on the application of anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory (AdS/CFT) techniques to the physics of the quark-gluon plasma, as well as for his contributions to the foundations of relativistic viscous fluid dynamics. At Illinois, his group is exploring “new real-time techniques to understand the out-of-equilibrium properties of the quark-gluon plasma, which is modeled as a black hole in higher dimensions using the AdS/CFT correspondence.” Jorge is always interested in the extreme: very small systems, very large temperatures, very large densities, or very strong gravitational fields. He says, “In physics, you always have to go to the extreme. You have accepted theories, and progress only happens when you go to the extreme and see where it all breaks down.” 

For more information about Jorge's work, or to inquire about joining his group, please click here.

Recent News

  • Research

An international team of researchers led by Paul Scherrer Institute postdoctoral researcher Niels Schröter now provide an important benchmark for how "strong" topological phenonena can be in a real material. Writing in Science, the team reports experiments in which they observed that, in the topological semimetal palladium gallium (PdGa), one of the most common classifiers of topological phenomena, the Chern number, can reach the maximum value that is allowed in any metallic crystal. That this is possible in a real material has never been shown before. Moreover, the team has established ways to control the sign of the Chern number, which might bring new opportunities for exploring, and exploiting, topological phenomena. Illinois Physics Professor Barry Bradlyn contributed to the theoretical work elucidating the team's experiments.

At the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), over 200 physicists across dozens of institutions are collaborating on a project called COMPASS. This experiment (short for Common Muon and Proton Apparatus for Structure and Spectroscopy) uses CERN’s Super Proton Synchrotron to tear apart protons with a particle beam, allowing researchers to see the subatomic quarks and gluons that make up these building blocks of the universe. But particle beams aren’t the only futuretech in play – the experiments are also enabled by a heavy dose of supercomputing power.

New findings from physicists at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with researchers at The University of Tokyo and others, clarify the physics of coupling topological materials with simple, conventional superconductors.

Through a novel method they devised to fabricate bulk insulating topological insulator (TI) films on superconductor (SC) substrates, the researchers were able to more precisely test the proximity effect, or coupling when two materials contact one another, between TIs and SCs. They found that when the TI film is bulk insulating, no superconductivity is observed at the top surface, but if it is a metal, as in prior work, strong, long-range superconducting order is seen. The experimental efforts were led by physics Professor Tai-Chang Chiang and Joseph Andrew Hlevyack, postdoctoral researcher in Professor Chiang’s group, in collaboration with Professor James N. Eckstein’s group including Yang Bai, Professor Kozo Okazaki’s Lab at The U. of Tokyo, and five other institutes internationally. The findings are published in Physical Review Letters, which has been highlighted as a PRL Editors’ Suggestion.

  • Accolades

Illinois Physics Assistant Professor Barry Bradlyn has been selected for a 2020 National Science Foundation CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award. This award is conferred annually in support of junior faculty who excel in the role of teacher-scholars by integrating outstanding research programs with excellent educational programs. Receipt of this award also reflects great promise for a lifetime of leadership within the recipients’ respective fields.

Bradlyn is a theoretical condensed matter physicist whose work studying the novel quantum properties inherent in topological insulators and topological semimetals has already shed new light on these extraordinary systems. Among his contributions, he developed a real-space formulation of topological band theory, allowing for the prediction of many new topological insulators and semimetals.