JQI in The Washingtonian

An article, about Joint Quantum Institute Scientists unlocking the mysteries of atoms, appears in The Washingtonian magazine. The article, entitled Quantum Leap, can be found in the publication's June 2010 issue.

Kara Hoffman Receives NSF MRI-R2 Grant

Kara Hoffman, a professor in our particle astrophysics group, has recently been awarded a Major Research Instrumentation-Recovery and Reinvestment (MRI-R2) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). MRI grants are for funding the purchase or development of new scientific instrumentation, and this special solicitation, funded through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allowed for larger and more expensive initiatives to be considered. Hoffman received $1,477,750 in NSF funding for her proposal entitled "Collaborative Research: MRI-R2 Instrument Development of the Askaryan Radio Array, a Large-scale Radio Cherenkov Detector at the South Pole".

The Askaryan Radio Array (ARA), when realized, will be comprised of radio frequency antennas embedded in 200 m deep boreholes in the South Polar ice cap, encompassing an area of 80 square kilometers. These antennas will be used to monitor the ice for radio frequency impulses which occur when ultra high energy particles called neutrinos are captured in the ice. The very cold ice at the South Pole, which averages 2 miles in depth and temperatures of -60 degrees Fahrenheit near its surface, is extremely transparent to radio frequency emissions, allowing neutrinos interactions to be detected by antennas from several miles away. Neutrinos are interesting because they are fundamental particles that travel through the Universe unimpeded since they have virtually no mass and experience only weak interactions with matter. Some of them may propagate from their origin for billions of years, allowing them to form images of how the Universe may have appeared in the very distant past. They may also carry information about the cataclysmic processes at the dense cores of the astrophysical objects in which they are born. Neutrinos may also shed light on the enigmatic cosmic rays which constantly bombard our Earth's atmosphere, and will also provide a sensitive probe of particle physics and quantum gravity.

Prof. Hoffman's collaborators at the University of Wisconsin simultaneously submitted a linked collaborative proposal, for which they were awarded $1,317,885. These NSF grants, together with required contributions from their institutions, as well as foreign collaborators, gives them a total of 4 million dollars for the first phase of the project, which will span three years. They will commence construction at the South Pole in the coming austral summer, and Professor Hoffman expects to travel to the South Pole for the construction. She has previously visited the South Pole to work on her other project, IceCube, which is also a "neutrino telescope", but it uses light to detect neutrinos rather than radio waves.

For UM and the World, LHC Starts Off with a Bang

On Tuesday, March 30, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, did for the first time what it was created to do, smash together beams of elementary particles at extremely high levels of energy.

Scientists at the LHC collided two proton beams, each with energies of 3.5 TeV (trillion electron volts)- the highest energies ever achieved by a man-made particle accelerator!

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Revolutionary New Solution for Semiconductor; Nano Materials

University of Maryland researchers have created a completely new way to produce high quality semiconductor materials critical for advanced microelectronics and nanotechnology. Published in the March 26 issue of Science, their research is a fundamental step forward in nanomaterials science that could lead to significant advances in computer chips, photovoltaic cells, biomarkers and other applications, according to the authors and other experts.

core shell image

Led by Min Ouyang, an assistant professor in the department of physics, the University of Maryland team has created a process that uses chemical thermodynamics to produce a broad range of different combination materials, each with a shell of structurally perfect mono-crystal semiconductor around a metal core.

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International Masterclasses Expose High School Students to Particle Physics

The University of Maryland QuarkNet Science Education Center will host a Particle Physics Masterclass for area high school students, on Wednesday, February 24. Maryland is one of 23 QuarkNet sites hosting a Masterclass, which will give students a chance to deal directly with sophisticated physics data involved in critical research at the CERN collider in Europe.

The Masterclass students will work with particle physicists to analyze measurements from the Large Electron Positron Collider, the predecessor of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in a tunnel at the French-Swiss border, to determine how the Z-boson decays into other particles. Although scientists conducted the original analysis, the high school students will actually conduct their own independent analysis.

More information about the Masterclass is available at: www.science.nd.edu/masterclass.
Contact: Kara Hoffman, (301) 405-7263