Science in Quarantine: Microscopy Migrates from Lab to Living Room

In the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, the luckiest workers have simply been relegated to working from home. And many people have had to find creative ways to turn their home into an office, a classroom, or—in the case of experimental physicists—a makeshift lab.

An episode of the Relatively Certain podcast brings a story of one such physicist—University of Maryland physics graduate student Francisco Salces. Before the pandemic, he was developing a new way to measure how good a microscope is at taking pictures of cold atoms in his lab. At home, he figured out a way to continue his experiment on a shoestring budget, with the help of some questionable online merchandise and lots of duct tape.

Relatively Certain is a production of the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This episode  was produced by Dina Genkina, Chris Cesare, and Emily Edwards. Music featured in this episode includes Picturebook by Dave Depper, Organisms by Chad Crouch, and Gradual Sunrise by David Hilowitz. Relatively Certain Listen on iTunes(link is external)Google Play(link is external)Soundcloud(link is external), and Spotify(link is external).

Relatively Certain, the Joint Quantum Institute and the Department of Physics do not endorse the products discussed in this episode.


Parker, Jawahery Discuss Findings in Symmetry Magazine

LHCb experiment. Image courtesy of CERN.LHCb experiment. Image courtesy of CERN.In November 2020, the LHCb collaboration announced a major new development, based on data collected during LHC Run 2, confirming and significantly strengthening an anomalous observation in decays of B mesons. 

Postdoc Will Parker and Distinguished University Professor Hassan Jawahery of the UMD flavor physics group recently discussed their work and "matter-antimatter weirdness" in Symmetry magazine. 

The 2020 result followed the LHCb's previous observation of CP violation in decays of D mesons. That finding was rated a Physics World Breakthrough of the Year finalist for 2019.

The Symmetry story is posted here:

Kollár Receives Air Force Young Investigator Grant

Assistant Professor Alicia Kollár has been awarded a grant by the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program (YIP). She is one of 36 early-career researchers around the US to receive the three-year, $450,000 award.

Kollár plans to develop a new breed of superconducting devices for studying quantum computing and quantum simulation. The devices will build upon an already successful platform—superconducting qubits connected together by photonic cavities—to create new interactions between qubits and new ways of connecting qubits together.Air Force Office of Scientific Research

“These systems realize artificial photonic materials for microwave photons with unprecedented levels of versatility and control,” says Kollár. “They can even be used to make lattices which cannot be found in nature, including things as exotic as lattices in curved hyperbolic spaces. Thanks to the generous support of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, we can now truly embark on harnessing this effect for new types of interactions and spin models.”

The YIP received more than 215 proposals this year, for research into everything from basic physics to machine learning and network science. Xiaodi Wu, a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science and an assistant professor of computer science at UMD, was also awarded a YIP grant this year.

Original story by Chris Cesare:

Das Sarma, Monroe Named 2020 Highly Cited Researchers

Sankar Das Sarma and Chris Monroe are included on the Clarivate Web of Science Group’s 2020 roster of Highly Cited Researchers(link is external) r, which recognizes influential scientists for their highly cited papers over the preceding decade. Both are Distinguished University Professors and Fellows of the Joint Quantum InstituteClarivate Highly Cited

Das Sarma is Director of the Condensed Matter Theory Center and holds the Richard E. Prange Chair. Monroe holds the Bice Zorn Professorship and is a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science.

Das Sarma has been included every year that the list has been released. This is Monroe’s second consecutive year receiving the distinction.

Das Sarma explores the theories behind condensed matter physics, statistical mechanics and quantum information, while Monroe performs experiments related to atomic physics and quantum information science. Both researchers have contributed new ideas that pushed the boundaries of the burgeoning field of quantum computing.

Original story by Bailey Bedford:



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PRB Highlights Work of Das Sarma and Hwang

To mark the 50th anniversary of Physical Review B, editors selected “milestone” papers that have made lasting contributions to condensed matter physics, including one co-written by Distinguished University Professor Sankar Das Sarma.pr50 social cropped ratio 0

Das Sarma wrote the selected paper, Dielectric function, screening, and plasmons in two-dimensional graphene, with Euyheon Hwang. Hwang earned his doctorate in 1996 under Das Sarma, and after appointments as a UMD research associate and assistant research scientist, accepted a faculty post at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in South Korea.  He is one of about 100 of Das Sarma’s students and postdocs who have gone on to faculty appointHwang DasSarma 2003Euyheon Hwang (seated, yellow shirt) and Sankar Das Sarma (red shirt) with CMTC colleagues in 2003.ments.

Hwang and Das Sarma have written about 120 articles together, including 88 papers in PRB from 1994 to 2019.

The milestone paper was published in 2007 and has 1,744 citations. In it, the authors developed a many body theory for the dynamical dielectric function of doped graphene at an arbitrary wave vector and frequency.   The dielectric function directly determines many physical properties, including electrical and optical properties.  This ‘milestone’ publication by Hwang and Das Sarma has been instrumental not only in the development of the fundamental physics of graphene, but has also ushered in the technological field of ‘graphene plasmonics’ which is being widely pursued worldwide for practical engineering use in optics and photonics.

Das Sarma, the Richard E. Prange Chair in Physics, is a Distinguished University Professor, a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute, and the director of the Condensed Matter Theory Center. He is internationally known for his work on topological quantum computation, Majorana physics, spin quantum computation, many body phenomena, quantum localization and nonequlibrium statistical mechanics, and has recently entered into the study of twisted bilayer graphene and higher-order topological systems. Google Scholar counts 90,227 citations and calculates an h-index of 124.



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