Lorraine DeSalvo Chair's Endowed Award for Outstanding Service

Upon Lorraine DeSalvo's 2019 retirement, the Department of Physics commended her 41 years of service by establishing the Lorraine DeSalvo Chair's Endowed Award for Outstanding Service. The award will recognize employees in the Department of Physics who provide benefit beyond their regular duties, promote positive professional and personal exchanges among colleagues and work effectively with internal and external partners. The chair of the Department of Physics will administer the fund and select recipients.

Contibutions can be made online or by check.  Checks should be made payable to the "University of Maryland College Park Foundation" or  "UMCP Foundation."  In the notes/for section on the check please write, "Lorraine DeSalvo Chair's Endowed Award."  Mail to: 

CMNS Office of the Dean
2300 Symons Hall 
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Read more about support for the Department of Physics here.

Joseph Sucher, 1930-2019

Professor Emeritus Joe Sucher, a UMD faculty member for 41 years, died on Oct. 18 at the age of 89.  A memorial was planned for Sunday, March 15, 2020, but was postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus concerns. http://science.umd.edu/events/sucher.html .

Joe joined UMD in 1957, after earning his Ph.D. from Columbia University with a thesis on the quantum electrodynamics of the helium atom. He is best known for work on the relativistic theory of many-electron atoms, the quantum theory of long-range forces, the foundations of relativistic quantum theory, the Gellman-Low-Sucher level-shift formula, the no-pair Hamiltonian for many-electron atoms, the Levy-Sucher identity, the Dirac-Sucher equation and the Feinberg-Sucher formula for the long-range force between neutral atoms. He was a devoted educator and was named a UMD Distinguished Scholar-Teacher in 1989.

Two years ago, he established the Joseph and Dorothy Sucher Graduate Prize in Relativistic Theoretical Physics to remember Dorothy, his wife of 58 years. She was a psychotherapist and a writer for the Greenbelt News Review whose work resulted in a landmark Supreme Court decision upholding freedom of the press. Her last writing project took her to Russia and Belarus shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, as she tried to piece together the history of her grandparents before they emigrated to the U.S. After her death, Joe and his son Anatol completed the work, Return to the Shtetl.

A native of Vienna, Joe was forced with his family to flee Hitler’s Nazism.  He escaped from Austria in 1938, and after a harrowing trek though Germany, Luxembourg, France, Spain and Portugal, arrived in the United States at age 10. He described the odyssey in a 2014 oral history interview with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Joe was well-known in the department for his great wit, his unfailing charm and his memorable lyrics; he often graced departmental gatherings with impressive poems, such as one he wrote on the 50th anniversary of the tradition of Physics Tea.







Hans R. Griem, 1928-2019

Prof. Emeritus Hans R. Griem, a noted expert in high-temperature plasmas and spectroscopy, died on October 2, 2019.

Prof. Griem received his Ph.D. from the Universität of Kiel, Germany, in 1954 and accepted a Fulbright Fellowship working on upper atmospheric physics at UMD. He returned to Universität Kiel for a two-year appointment before joining the UMD faculty in 1957.   He was well known for his research on radiation from highly ionized atoms in high temperature plasmas, and for his work on spectral line broadening (and shifts) in dense plasmas.  He was a consultant with Los Alamos National Laboratory during most of his career, and retired from UMD in 1994.

He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and a referee for several journals, including Physical Review Letters.  Among his accolades were a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Humboldt Award and the William F. Meggers Award of the Optical Society.  In 1991 he received the James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics for "his numerous contributions to experimental plasma physics and spectroscopy, particularly in the area of improved diagnostic methods for high temperature plasmas, and for his books on plasma spectroscopy and spectral line broadening in plasmas that have become standard references in the field."

Prof. Griem was instrumental in founding the UMD Institute Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, and served as one of the first directors of IREAP. He advised over 40 doctoral students in his time at UMD.

Jim Griffin, Hans Griem and Doug Currie in 2001.

In The Washington Post obituary published Oct. 6, 2019, the Griem family kindly directed donations in Prof. Griem's name to UMD Physics.


Workshop Explores Novel Ideas for Dark Matter Searches

The University of Maryland will host a two-day meeting to evaluate new methods for detecting dark matter—the as-yet-unseen substance that makes up the bulk of the matter in the universe. The meeting will be held on campus Oct. 28-29, 2019.

“The search for dark matter is entering a new phase,” says Dan Carney, a co-organizer of the event and a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint Quantum Institute. “Our first guesses for where to look have not worked out, and we need new ideas.”

Named for its apparent reluctance to interact with ordinary matter, dark matter has eluded decades of targeted searches. Astrophysical evidence for it abounds, from the rotation rates of distant galaxies to the large-scale structure of the universe, but terrestrial experiments have so far come up empty.

Part of the problem is that the weak interactions that give dark matter its name also make it hard to detect, since detectors are made of ordinary matter. If dark matter is (as many suspect) made of particles that don’t react much to protons and electrons, then it’s hard to imagine how it could ever be detected.

Parallel to this hunt for dark matter, scientists have been steadily improving the accuracy of quantum sensors, which utilize some of the quirky features of quantum physics to make incredibly accurate measurements of position and time. With sensitivities now down to a billionth of a billionth of a meter, researchers have started to wonder if they might wield quantum sensors in the hunt for dark matter. After all, dark matter is still matter, and it might be detected by looking for minute changes in gravity, which could potentially open up a whole new front in the search.

Carney, together with several collaborators, co-organized an event to bring together experts from the particle physics and quantum sensing communities—two groups that don’t often collaborate—to discuss novel ways of building the next generation of dark matter detectors. Carney says the meeting, which is titled “Quantum Optomechanical Architectures for Dark Matter Detection,” will feature ample time for discussion, and he hopes that it will lead to a roadmap that charts a course toward new experiments.

“Quantum sensing techniques are our best methods for detecting faint signals, and dark matter is as faint as they come,” Carney says. “We're excited to get a group of experts together to explore ways to leverage this technology to help figure out what dark matter is really made of.”

Carney’s co-organizers are Cindy Regal, a quantum sensing experimentalist from JILA; Gordan Krnjaic, a particle physics theorist from Fermilab; and Dave More, a particle physics experimentalist and quantum sensing expert from Yale. The meeting is supported by the American Physical Society through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Fundamental Physics Innovation Awards.

Story by Chris Cesare This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Joel Dahlin Receives Ronald Davidson Award

Joel DahlinJoel Dahlin

Alumnus Joel Dahlin, who earned his Ph.D. in 2015, has received the 2019 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics from AIP Publishing. Dahlin, who was advised by Distinguished University Professor James Drake and Marc Swisdak of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics­­, is now a postdoctoral fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

AIP Publishing sponsors the award in collaboration with the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics (APS-DPP), to recognize one researcher each year whose outstanding work has been published in the journal Physics of Plasmas.

"AIP Publishing and Physics of Plasmas are delighted to award Joel T. Dahlin the 2019 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasmas Physics," said Jason Wilde, chief publishing officer at AIP Publishing. "Now in its fourth year, this award is in honor of the late Ron Davidson, the long-time Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas."

Dahlin is being honored for his article, "The mechanisms of electron heating and acceleration during magnetic reconnection," written with Drake and Swisdak. It was selected from the most highly cited and most highly downloaded articles published in Physics of Plasmas during the past five years. 

“It is a great honor to be recognized with an award bearing Ron Davidson’s name, given his broad and influential contributions to the field of plasma physics. Since my co-authors and I published our work, it has been exciting and deeply gratifying to see how other researchers have used and built on the ideas we laid out,” Dahlin said.

The paper explored the mechanisms for electron acceleration caused by collision-less magnetic reconnection in plasma with a magnetic guide field sufficient for adiabatic electron motion. In a follow-up paper, “Electron acceleration in three-dimensional magnetic reconnection with a guide field,” Physics of Plasmas 22, 100704 (2015), Dahlin and his co-authors showed a dramatic enhancement of energetic electron production in 3D systems where stochastic magnetic fields enable continuous access to volume-filling acceleration regions.

According to Spiro K. Antiochos of NASA GSFC, "Joel Dahlin's results on particle acceleration during magnetic reconnection, especially on the effects of a guide field, may well be the key to finally understanding two decades-old major puzzles in the plasma physics of solar flares: How are flares so efficient at accelerating electrons, and why does the acceleration occur only during the early, impulsive phase of a flare?”

Dahlin will be presented with the award during the 61st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics on Tues., Oct. 22.

For more information, please see the AIP announcement here.