SBU Logo CAS Logo

Dept. Logo
What's New? - click on the title to see the news item separately
Raju Venugopalan Awarded Prestigious Humboldt Research Award  

Raju Venugopalan, an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University and a senior physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been awarded a Humboldt Research Award for his remarkable achievements in theoretical nuclear physics. This prestigious international award — issued by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn, Germany — comes with a prize of €60,000 (nearly $70,000 U.S.) and the opportunity to collaborate with German researchers at Heidelberg University and elsewhere. Venugopalan joins 13 other Brookhaven National Laboratory physicists who have received this award since 1974.

“This is a great honor and I’m delighted to be in the company of other Humboldt winners over the past years,” Venugopalan said. “This award gives me a wonderful opportunity to build on and establish new collaborations with my colleagues in Germany, where I’ve been on sabbatical at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Heidelberg University for the past year. I look forward to widening and deepening these connections.”

Venugopalan’s work is focused on developing theories to explain and predict the behavior of extreme forms of nuclear matter-including the several-trillion-degree soup of quarks and gluons, known as quark-gluon plasma (QGP), generated in energetic particle collisions at colliders like Brookhaven Lab’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and Europe’s Large Hadron Collider He’s also explored the behavior of matter at the opposite temperature extreme, namely in ultra-cold atomic gases.

See more here and the complete BNL press release here.

Scientific Reports Publication  

Chemistry and Physics Prof. Jin Wang and Physics Graduate Student Zhedong Zhang published "Origin of long-lived quantum coherence and excitation dynamics in pigment-protein complexes" in the Scientific Reports.

Nonequilibrium quantum statistical dynamics is of fundamental importance and critical for understanding of the energy and charge transports. The recent development of renewable energy demands the improvement of efficiency of energy and charge transports in materials. The widespread interests in exploring the quantum nature in solar cells and the antenna systems have been triggered by the experimental investigations of excitonic dynamics in a wide variety of systems, e.g., semiconductors, organic molecules, light harvesting complexes, natural and synthetic photosynthetic complexes. Even with the current knowledge of electronic structure in antenna and the advances in spectroscopy that uncovered the long-lived quantum coherence in fluctuating environment, the full understanding of the role of coherence and the mechanism of excitation energy transfer has still remained elusive.

In this study, a mechanism for a long standing issue of the origin of long-survived quantum coherence (e.g., light-harvesting complexes) for efficient energy transfer was uncovered in a general scenario. The bare electrons are surrounded by nuclear vibrational modes, which leads to the strong exciton-vibron coupling. The new composite called polaron gives rise to the screening and leads to much weaker interactions with the environments. The decoherence will then be significantly suppressed and the long-lived quantum coherence emerges. The nonequilibriumness from detailed balance breaking and coherence can funnel the downhill migration of excitons. The survival of quantum coherence is long enough to significantly improve the energy transfer efficiency under the breakdown of time-reversal symmetry. This result suggesting a mechanism of slowing down the dephasing is of importance for energy/charge transports and quantum information/computing.

See more info here and the full paper here.

Researchers Receive INCITE Award to Study Stellar Explosions  

A project led by SBU Department of Physics and Astronomy professors Michael Zingale and Alan Calder has been awarded 45 million “processor hours” on the Titan Cray XK7, billed by host Oak Ridge National Laboratory as “the nation’s most powerful supercomputer for open science” (theoretical peak performance: 27,000 trillion calculations per second, or 27 petaflops).

Zingale and Calder – along with two SBU graduate students Donald Willcox and Maria Barrios as well as co-investigators from Oak Ridge, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, Los Alamo National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee – will spend their petaflops recreating complex astronomical events like X-ray bursts and white-dwarf explosions.

The idea is to gather clues needed to solve a host of astrophysics problems, with a particular focus on stellar explosions powered by fusion reactions.

See more here.

Sally Dawson received J.J. Sakurai Prize  

Brookhaven Lab particle physics theorist and Stony Brook University Adjunct Professor Sally Dawson has been named a recipient of the 2017 J.J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics. Dawson and her co-recipients-Gordon L. Kane of the University of Michigan, Howard E. Haber of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and John F. Gunion of the University of California, Davis-are long-term and ongoing colleagues. They were cited for their "instrumental contributions to the theory of the properties, reactions, and signatures of the Higgs boson." They will receive the award, which consists of $10,000 to be shared and certificates citing their achievements, at a ceremony during an APS meeting themed "Quarks 2 Cosmos" on Sunday, January 29, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Dawson is best known for developing mathematical models to explain and predict the processes by which Higgs particles are produced.

"You never would have found the Higgs if you didn't know what you were looking for," Dawson explained to further highlight the importance of the theory work. "The searches were based on years of calculations and the detectors were designed to find this thing based on that theoretical work, which is still ongoing," Dawson said. Today, Dawson and her colleagues are collaborating to more accurately predict the production and decay processes for Higgs particles at the LHC.

See more here.

Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Paul Grannis elected as a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences  

Paul Grannis was elected as a foreign member of Russian Academy of Sciences "for outstanding achievements in high energy physics including the top quark discovery and very important contributions to the scientific cooperation between our countries".

Paul Grannis joined the Stony Brook faculty in September 1966. He is currently Research Professor and Distinguished Professor Emeritus.He served as chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department from 2002 to 2005. He has been associated with the D0 experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory since its birth in 1983 to the present, serving as spokesman or co-spokesman from 1983 to 1996 and 2014 to the present. The D0 collaboration brought together scientists from 19 nations and has published almost 500 papers.

APS Fellows 2016  

American Physical Society (APS) has elected Fellows for the year of 2016. APS Fellowship is a distinct honor for APS members and is a prestigious recognition by their peers.

Physics & Astronomy would like to congratulate:

Abanov, Alexander G. - Condensed Matter Physics
For pioneering contributions to electronic condensed matter physics using topological and hydrodynamic methods.

Drees, Axel - Nuclear Physics
For having a leading role in the discovery of the suppression of high momentum hadrons and jet quenching in heavy ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, and his key contributions to the discovery that hadron properties are modified near the transition to the quark-gluon plasma through the measurement of electron-positron pairs.

See more here and here.

2016 Nobel Prize in Physics  

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter" was awarded to David J. Thouless (University of Washington), F. Duncan M. Haldane (Princeton University), and J. Michael Kosterlitz (Brown University).

The use of topology in condensed matter physics goes back to studies of topological defects (vortices) in superfluid helium and solitons in polyacetylene in the seventies. The field boomed in the eighties after the discovery of Quantum Hall Effect by von Klitzing in 1980. By now the field of topological phases of matter is well established and is developing very quickly. This year's Nobel Prize recognizes major achievements and the importance of this field in modern physics.

Research on topological phases of matter is represented in the Department by Lukasz Fidkowski, Tzu-Chieh Wei and Alexander Abanov. One of the distinguishing features of studies in topological phases of matter is the constant collaboration of physicists representing very different disciplines such as condensed matter proper, nuclear theory, string theory, quantum information research, and mathematical physics. All these directions are well represented in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University. The active research inspired by 2016 Nobel Prize winners at the Department is being done on geometry of Quantum Hall states, classification of topological phases of matter, transport in Weyl semimetals, entanglement and quantum computation, matrix product states, topological effects in QCD, and holographic approach to condensed matter physics as well as experimental studies of graphene and cold atoms.

See more about Nobel Prize here.

YITP 50th Anniversary Symposium, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Oct. 9 and 10th  

The foundation of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1966 under the guidance of Chen Ning Yang brought Stony Brook University to the world stage in science. In the succeeding decades, the Institute, in collaboration with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and now with the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics has provided the opportunity for hundreds of researchers, students, postdocs, visitors and faculty to develop their knowledge and to create new ideas in a vibrant atmosphere of research and instruction.

The Institute is marking the anniversary with a symposium, Oct. 9 and 10 at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, bringing together its alumni and friends. As it enters its sixth decade, the C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics continues the historic tradition of frontier science at Stony Brook University.

The program can be found here.

The scientific program will conclude with a Sir Run Run Shaw Distinguished Lecture: What is String Theory? by Ashoke Sen.
This talk is intended for the general university community. Ashoke Sen (Ph.D. Stony Brook, 1983) was an inaugural recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2012, and was awarded the Dirac Medal in 2014, for pioneering work in string theory. He is visiting Stony Brook as part of the YITP's 50th anniversary. The Run Run Shaw Lecture series was established by C.N. Yang in 1985.

Monday, October 10, 2016 5:30 pm
   Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Lecture Hall

$10M Simons Collaboration on the Non-Perturbative Bootstrap  

Leonardo Rastelli of the YITP and the Department of Physics and Astronomy will lead a groundbreaking "Collaboration on the Non-Perturbative Bootstrap" as Director for a new grant that includes fourteen other principal investigators at institutions in the United States, Canada and Europe.

On August 25th, the Simons Foundation announced the establishment of the "Simons Collaboration on the Non-perturbative Bootstrap", with total funding of $10M over four years. Quantum Field Theory (QFT) is the language of modern theoretical physics. Quantum fields describe our knowledge of nature at the shortest distances, accessible by high energy accelerators, and also in phenomena like superconductivity, states of matter that can be created in the laboratory. A critical challenge for theoretical physics is to chart and understand the “space” of all possible QFTs, including strongly interacting models that are difficult to study by conventional methods. The Collaboration will bring to bear new theoretical tools, some developed here at the YITP, to address this question. The starting point is the astonishing discovery that the space of QFTs can be determined by using only general principles: symmetries and quantum mechanics. By analyzing the full implications of these general principles, one can make sharp predictions for physical observables without resorting to approximations. This strategy is called the bootstrap. New developments within the past few years suggest that the time is right for a concerted effort to open a new window on nature at its most fundamental. The Foundation considers the Collaboration as "the beginning of a much larger enterprise, crossing the traditional boundaries" in physics, mathematics and computer science.

Department of Physics and Astronomy Welcomes New Faculty  

Luis Alvarez-Gaume, Professor of Physics and Astronomy and the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, will direct the Simons Center. He received his Ph.D. from Stony Brook in 1981. After positions at Harvard and Boston University he joined the Theory Division at CERN. He studies string theory, quantum field theory, black holes, and cosmology. He has written introductory lectures on Quantum Field Theory and reviewed many aspects of string theory and field theory. Since 2003 he has been a corresponding member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences.

Department of Physics and Astronomy Welcomes New Faculty  

Alexander Zamolodchikov, the C.N. Yang / Wei Deng Endowed Chair, joins the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics. He received his PhD in 1978 from the Institute of Theoretical and Mathematical Physics in Moscow. He was a senior researcher at the Landau Institute, and later a Board of Governors Professor of Physics at Rutgers University. His published work has been cited over 18,000 times, including three papers each with more than 1,000 citations. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, was elected in to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, received the Dirac Medal for Theoretical Physics, the Pomeranchuk Prize from the ITEP, Moscow, and the American Physical Society’s Lars Onsager Prize. In 2016 he was inducted in to the National Academy of Sciences.

Department of Physics and Astronomy Welcomes New Faculty  

Nicola Giacinto Piacquadio, Assistant Professor, is an experimental particle physicist. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Freiburg (Germany), and from there held a prestigious CERN Fellowship, a Marie Curie Award, and the W. Panofsky Fellowship at SLAC. His research is on physics of the Standard Model and beyond using the massive ATLAS detector at CERN, which recently announced the discovery of the Higgs Boson.

Sergey Syritsyn, Assistant Professor, is a theoretical nuclear physicist. He completed his Ph.D. at MIT under the supervision of John Negele in the Center for Theoretical Physics. He then held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Nuclear Science Division, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a RIKEN Foreign Postdoctoral Researcher Fellowship at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Nathan Isgur Fellowship at Theory Center, Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory.

Navid Vafaei-Najafabadi, Assistant Professor, studies the physics of high energy charged particle accelerators. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (from the University of California, Los Angeles on beam driven plasma wakefield accelerators,” which seeks to use novel techniques involving high-power lasers to drive charged particles to very high energies.

2016 Ettore Majorana Gold Medal for the Discovery of Supergravity  

Distinguished Professor Peter van Nieuwenhuizen of Stony Brook's C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy received the 2016 Ettore Majorana Gold Medal along with co-recipients Daniel Z. Freedman of Stanford and Sergio Ferrara of CERN for their role in the discovery of supergravity 40 years ago.

Supergravity is one of Stony Brook's greatest contributions to science. It generalized Einstein's theory of gravity by incorporating the then-novel idea of supersymmetry. The combination of these powerful ideas by Ferrara, Freedman and van Nieuwenhuizen showed that gravity may be unified with other forces in nature, and that in fact, this unification will predict as-yet unseen particles and forces between them.

From left: Prof. Zichichi (Director of the Ettore Majorana summerschool in subnuclear physics), Sergio Ferrara (CERN), Daniel Freedman (former SBU, currently Stanford), Peter van Nieuwenhuizen (SBU).

New T2K Findings Provide Insight to Our Matter-Dominant Universe and Why We Exist  

At the 38th International Conference on High Energy Physics, Stony Brook University Physicist Chang Kee Jung presented new findings on behalf of the international T2K Collaboration that reveal why the universe is dominated by matter and why we exist.

Professor Jung, a leading member of the T2K Collaboration, explained how they can now demonstrate why matter and antimatter are different. He also presented the latest results of the T2K findings and explained why they are significant to theories of particle physics and Bing Bang Cosmology.

Also Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science, reports on the T2K's recent results on the Charge-Parity (CP) violation in neutrinos that is believed to hold a key to our understanding of the matter dominant universe, presented at the ICHEP 2016 conference.

To see more click here.

Congrats Grads!  

Congratulations on your well-deserved success!

To see 2016 Commencement photos click here.

In Memoriam: Peter Kahn  

Professor Peter Kahn, one of the first members of the Stony Brook Physics Department, died unexpectedly on April 26, 2016 at the age of 81. He served as chair for 12 years. He came to Stony Brook in 1961 after receiving his Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics at Northwestern University in 1960 and doing a brief stint at the University of Iowa. He initially worked on random matrix theory and focused in later years on biophysics and nonlinear dynamics.

Peter assisted in the move of the University to its current campus ("the mud years") and the rapid growth of the Physics Department in size and national prominence under its charismatic chairman Alex Pond, when Physics Nobelist C.N. Yang and renowned nuclear theorist Gerald Brown, among others, joined Stony Brook. When he became chair of the department in 1974, he successfully reconnected to the building-up spirit of the Pond years. He instituted orderly procedures for hiring, promotion and tenure that continue to serve the department well. His excellent relationship with the university administration allowed him to expand the department by attracting and mentoring a number of excellent young scientists over a broad range of physics. He had an unwavering sense for academic quality. By the end of his chairmanship in 1986, the department faculty had grown to more than 50 members and many of his hires have achieved national stature.

After his retirement, he devoted considerable energy to documenting the history of the department’s development and growth to national prominence, through interviews and original documents.

Peter had a life-long interest in books and scoured bookstores for volumes which he often donated as prizes for various student awards. For many years, he advised the publisher of Dover Books, rescuing a number of out-of-print works from obscurity into affordable editions. It was most fitting that upon his retirement in 2003, the department arranged for the library in the physics building to be renamed the Peter B. Kahn Library of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. He is also remembered by the Peter B. Kahn Fellowship program which supports graduate student travel to international meetings and other educational and professional activities to advance their career development.

Those of the physics faculty who were at Stony Brook during Peter’s tenure as chair well remember the collegial, almost familial, spirit in the department. He instituted a "Tuesday Lunch Seminar" and invited faculty from other departments to come discuss their work with physics faculty, thus building academic connections across the University. Many social events among department members fostered mutual interest and respect, which has continued to be an important feature of our community. This tradition of teamwork was one of Peter Kahn’s enduring contributions to the department and continues to serve us well to this day.

See more here.

To donate to the Peter B. Kahn endowment please click here.

Distinguished Doctoral Awards  

The five recipients of the 2016 Distinguished Doctoral Student Award represent the breadth and depth of the research Stony Brook University students undertake. Two of the five, are students of the Physics and Astronomy department.

Wolfger Peelaers: "Exact Results in Supersymmetric and Superconformal Quantum Field Theories"
Wolfger completed his PhD in Stony Brook's Department of Physics and Astronomy, where he was part of the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, in August 2015. His area of research is theoretical high energy physics, and more specifically the study of supersymmetric and superconformal quantum field theories.

Mao Zeng: "QCD Factorization and Effective Field Theories at the LHC"
Mao completed his PhD in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in August 2015. His dissertation research explores using quantum chromdynamics (QCD) to make precise predictions for high-energy particle collisions, for example at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). He is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

See more here.

Colin West contestant on Jeopardy! & Finalist of FameLab USA  

Colin West is Ph.D. Candidate at the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University, graduating this summer. His scientific interests center around understanding the mysteries of quantum physics, as well as finding ways to apply it to improve our technology, computers, and communications systems. He is also an active associate of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and is passionate about it's mission of helping scientists share their work outside the narrow confines of their own academic disciplines.

On May 13, 2016, Colin competed at the Final competition of FameLab USA: Exploring Earth and Beyond in Washington, DC. He made the top ten out of nearly 100 participants in a competition where each contestant has the spotlight for only three minutes. No slides, no charts, just the power of words and any prop they can hold in their hands. A panel of experts in both science and science communication judge. Back in January Colin appeared on Jeopardy! and was in the lead going into Final Jeopardy. Although he didn't win, he had an excellent experience on the show and attributes his success to the Alda Center.

See more here and here.

SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence  

Fifteen members of Stony Brook University's faculty and staff have been chosen to receive the 2016 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence. The Chancellor's awards are highly competitive award across SUNY campuses. The Physics and Astronomy faculty and staff received the following:

Excellence in Professional Service:
Nathan Leoce-Schappin, ATC

Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities:
Thomas Weinacht, Professor
Martin Rocek, Professor
Excellence in Teaching:
Angela M. Kelly, Associate Professor

The honor provides system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and encourages the ongoing pursuit of excellence. Individuals selected for this honor are role models within the SUNY community. See more here.

Light Source Researcher, Prof. Tom Allison Receives DOE Early Career Grant  

Supporting cutting-edge research that could impact solar energy technologies, the Department of Energy has granted a prestigious Early Career Award to Stony Brook’s Thomas K. Allison. Allison, who holds a joint appointment in the Stony Brook University departments of Physics and Chemistry, was recognized for his work on developing new light sources and techniques to follow the motions of molecular systems in real-time.

Allison will receive $150,000 per year for five years for his project, entitled, "Ultrafast Dynamics of Molecules on Surfaces Studied with Time‐Resolved XUV Photoelectron Spectroscopy," which was selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

The Allison Research Group has developed a unique laser-based source of extreme ultraviolet light for studying these charge transfer processes, with pulse durations measured in femtosecond (1 femtosecond = 10-15 s). First, ultrashort pump pulses excite the surface the same way light from the sun would, and then ultrashort pulses of extreme ultraviolet light (XUV) are used to follow the motion of the electrons and holes at the surface. The experiments will be performed in collaboration with the research group of Prof. Michael White, who is an expert on surface science and surface photochemistry.

See more here.

NSF CAREER Grant Awarded to Prof. Kiryluk  

Joanna Kiryluk PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the CAREER program to support her research titled "CAREER: Experimental Particle Astrophysics with High Energy Neutrinos in IceCube".

The NSF-CAREER program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Kiryluk's NSF CAREER award will support her group in research with neutrinos and the IceCube observatory at the South Pole. This research aims at elucidating the origins of the most powerful cosmic accelerators in the Universe. In 2013, IceCube discovered the existence of a diffuse flux of highly energetic neutrinos of yet unknown origin. Kiryluk's proposed precision measurements will give new insights in the composition of this flux, specifically that from electron and from tau neutrinos in the TeV - PeV energy range, and will confirm or refute the characteristics predicted by theoretical models on the possible sources and acceleration mechanisms. It may probe also physics beyond the 'Standard Model'.

By integrating forefront research with education and outreach, in particular the SBU WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) program, Kiryluk seeks to grow and diversify the pool of students in STEM fields at Stony Brook University and in the Long Island area.

CAS Awards and Recognition Ceremony  

Faculty, staff, and students of the College gathered on April 12, 2016, to recognize the many contributions of the members of our community this year to the College’s mission of teaching, service, and original creative work. Over 150 people gathered for a ceremony recognizing outstanding teachers, student researchers, staff, outreach to the community, and donors to the College.

The Physics & Astronomy Department's Assistant Director Undergraduate Program, Diane Diaferia received the Staff Excellence Award.

Recognition of retiring faculty and staff went to: Phillip Allen, Gene Sprouse and Sara Lutterbie.

See more here.

SBU makes the cover of American Journal of Physics  

Education is an important mission of the Stony Brook University. The Astronomy Group at Stony Brook has developed a Michelson-type stellar interferometer for education and is now offering this new lab experiment in the undergraduate and graduate astronomy laboratory courses. Students measure the diameter of the Sun using this radio interferometer in front of the Physics building. This new development is published in the American Journal of Physics and featured on its cover page.

Michelson interferometry is a technique with broad applications in both Physics and Astronomy and has recently been used for the detection of gravitational waves. Michelson stellar interferometer is an application of the same physical concept and is used to date, to directly measure stellar diameters. The Sun is a marginally resolved source for our home-built radio telescope when viewed in single-dish mode, but is well resolved when observed interferometrically. Students compare an intensity scan of the Sun to that of a known point source (a geostationary TV satellite) in single-dish mode and infer the Sun's angular diameter. Then repeat the experiment with the interferometer, recording the Sun's and the satellite's visibility amplitudes as a function of baseline for several different interferometer baselines. The interferometric measurements yield a much more accurate solar diameter.

See more here.

Simons Program Student Receives 1st Place at NYSSEF and the Yale Science & Engineering Association Award  

Ayesha Chhugani, a senior at Herricks High School, conducted Physics research as part of the Simons Program under the guidance of Professor Deshpande's Laboratory Group. She applied to the Simons Program to conduct independent research as part of Herricks' 4 year Science Research Program under the direction of Mrs. Renée Barcia. With direct support from Professor Deshpande, Post Doc Nils Feege, and Master's student Raphael Cervantes, Ayesha learned about superconductor physics and applied such knowledge to a project involving the study of trapped magnetic fields within superconductors. She learned not only the technicalities of superconductor physics, but learned what it means to be a researcher and actually implement the scientific method to discover something new.

With her research report, "A Novel Magnetic Field Trap Using Superconductors for Transporting Polarized Ions for Medical Imaging", Ayesha was named as a Siemens Competition Semifinalist, Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalist, and was awarded 1st place in the Physics category at NYSSEF (New York State Science and Engineering Fair) along with the Yale Science & Engineering Association Award for "Most Outstanding Exhibit in Computer Science, Engineering, Physics or Chemistry."

Ayesha will be attending Columbia University-Fu Foundation School of Engineering in the Fall as an Egleston Research Scholar.

Ultrafast Meets Ultrasensitive  

To study the pure and un-interrupted quantum dynamics of a molecule, you need to isolate the molecule from its neighbors by getting it in the gas phase, preferably cold and free from collisions. You might want to have a few neighbor molecules to see how that affects the dynamics, a few partners joined together in a so-called “cluster”, but you want control over those neighbors so you can make a systematic study.

Scientists can produce cold, isolated molecules and clusters using the techniques of molecular beams, in which gas jets are shot into a vacuum. The trouble with molecular beams is that you don’t get very many molecules to work with. The density of molecules (molecules/liter) in a molecular beam is typically about 10 million times lower than in air and 10 billion times lower than a liquid, so very sensitive techniques are needed to record signals from these extremely dilute samples.

At Stony Brook, Prof. Tom Allison's group, using a special type of laser called a frequency comb, and optical resonators to passively amplify minute signals, has recently demonstrated a nearly 4 orders of magnitude improvement in the sensitivity of ultrafast spectroscopy, such that signals can easily be recorded from the “designer” molecules and clusters that can only be produced in molecular beam. The instrument can record changes in the absorption of the probe pulses to a few parts in 1010. The sensitivity enhancement comes from resonating the laser pulses in optical cavities, one for the pump pulses and a second for the probe pulses, which requires precise control of the electric-field of the laser pulses so they can be coherently added and stored. The techniques they have demonstrated in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum and can also be used in the UV and infrared, and thus applied to a wide range of fundamental problems in molecular physics.

The results are published in Optica, the OSA’s premier high-impact journal, see more here.

PhysTEC Recognizes Leaders in Physics Teacher Preparation  

Nationwide physics teacher preparation program recognizes colleges and universities helping to address the severe national shortage of high school physics teachers.

Stony Brook University came in 3rd in "The 5+ Club", a group of institutions that has graduated 5 or more physics teachers in a given year. Fewer than 20 institutions in the United States graduate 5 or more highly qualified physics teachers in most years and the most common number of graduates is zero.

In 2013 the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics reported, “the need for qualified teachers is greater now than at any previous time in history.” Of the approximately 1400 new teachers who are hired to teach physics each year, only 35% have a degree in physics or physics education. Stony Brook University’s efforts are an essential part of helping to address the critical shortage of qualified physics teachers.

Stony Brook University offers three programs registered and approved by the New York State Education Department for individuals seeking New York State certification to teach physics in secondary schools, grades 7 – 12.

See more here.

YITP collaborators offer explanation of possible new particle  

Stony Brook University's Prof. Meade, postdoctoral fellow Sam McDermott and graduate student Harikrishnan Ramani published a potential explanation of what they described as a “diphoton excess” in arXiv, which is an electronic e-print of a scientific paper. The paper has also been accepted for publication in the journal Physics Letters B.

“In the case of this data that came out of Atlas and CMS [compact muon solenoid], the simplest explanation was something that looked like a relative of the Higgs,” he said. This particle, however, even if it was a relative of the Higgs, was wider than expected. To explain the data would require the particle interacting with particles other than those in the Standard Model.

“This could be a harbinger of an entirely new sector of particles in the universe, some of which could be dark matter, and this particle could also decay into this sector. If this particle turns out to be real, it would be the first particle ever discovered beyond the Standard Model.”

To be sure, it’s way too early for any conclusions, in part because it might not even be real. Even if it’s a new particle, “we definitely won’t know what the particle is without more data,” which should come this spring when the Large Hadron Collider starts running again.

See more here.

In Memoriam: Roderich Engelmann  

Roderich Engelmann, Stony Brook University Professor Emeritus, passed away Feb. 29, 2016 at his home in Delray Beach Florida after a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma. He was 76 years old.

Rod received his PhD in 1966 from the University of Heidelberg working on the weak interaction properties of hyperons. After several years on the staff at Argonne National Laboratory, he joined the Stony Brook faculty in 1973 and advanced to the rank of full professor in 1980. Early in his Stony Brook days, he led studies of high energy neutrino interactions and 200 GeV proton collisions at the newly commissioned Fermilab accelerator. In an extended stay at CERN in the 1980's, he exploited the UA2 data from the proton-antiproton collider to study the newly discovered W and Z bosons and high transverse momentum processes. During a leave at BNL, he worked to characterize the magnets for the accelerator that ultimately became RHIC. For many years he worked on the DZero experiment analyses of the production of single photons. More recently he played an important role in the ATLAS experiment in calibrating the response to electrons and photons, essential elements for the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. He was the adviser to nine graduate students.

Rod had a special talent for teaching the pre-med introductory physics courses. He started to work on internet-based education years before it became a major trend. He combined his understanding of the email, blogging and other WEB-based methods as a way to engage students. He used these and other computer-based tools to create novel and more effective ways to teach introductory physics. A 2009 interview with Rod about his teaching methods can be seen here.

Fermilab scientists discover new four-flavor particle  

Scientists on the DZero collaboration at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermilab have discovered a new particle - the latest member to be added to the exotic species of particle known as tetraquarks. As is the case with many discoveries, the tetraquark observation came as a surprise when DZero scientists first saw hints in July, 2015 of the new particle, called X(5568), named for its mass-5568 megaelectronvolts.

"At first, we didn't believe it was a new particle," says DZero co-spokesperson Dmitri Denisov." Only after we performed multiple cross-checks did we start to believe that the signal we saw could not be explained by backgrounds or known processes, but was evidence of a new particle."

"The next question will be to understand how the four quarks are put together," says DZero co-spokesperson Paul Grannis. "They could all be scrunched together in one tight ball, or they might be one pair of tightly bound quarks that revolves at some distance from the other pair." Four-quark states are rare, and although there's nothing in nature that forbids the formation of a tetraquark, scientists don't understand them nearly as well as they do two- and three-quark states.

The Stony Brook faculty from the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s High Energy Physics Group include Distinguished Research Professor Paul Grannis, Professor John Hobbs, Associate Professor Dmitri Tsybychev, Professor Robert McCarthy and Research Professor Dean Schamberger. They participated in the DZero project from its inception and co-authored the paper.

See more here and here.

Stony Brook's Society of Physics Students - Distinguished SPS Chapter  

Society of Physics Students recognizes Stony Brook University's SPS chapter as a Distinguished SPS Chapter for 2014-2015.

This group of undergraduate students visits government laboratories such as Brookhaven National Lab; organizes SBU faculty and grad student's talks about research or other interesting events in the physics world; have fun movie and game nights. Also, this chapter gives back to the community by reaching out to local schools.

SBU's chapter meets on Thursdays 7:00 PM in the Society of Physics Students Room (Physics P-120).

See more about the SBU SPS chapter here.

Face Book Link

Using Glass to Improve Graphene's Powerful Conductivity  

A team of scientists led by Matthew Eisaman, a physicist at Stony Brook University and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, have developed a method using common glass for creating resilient, customized, and high-performance graphene. The material is known for its durability and electrical conductivity and is used in the energy, electronics and semiconductor industries. The graphene-enhancing process is detailed in a paper published in Scientific Reports.

See more.

Strong Field Molecular Ionization in the Impulsive Limit: Freezing Vibrations with Short Pulses  

The Weinacht group (time resolved spectroscopy and quantum control) recently published new measurements of how molecules behave in intense laser fields on very short timescales. Their work studied molecular ionization in the limit of impulsive excitation - i.e. with laser pulses shorter than the timescale for nuclear dynamics (molecular vibrations). They found a general, counterintuitive response involving a delicate interplay of electronic and nuclear degrees of freedom. Their work (Péter Sándor et al., is highlighted as an Editor's Suggestion in Physical Review Letters.

Separating left- and right-handed particles in a semi-metallic material produces anomalously high conductivity  

Scientists at the U.S Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have discovered a new way to generate very low-resistance electric current in a new class of materials. The discovery, which relies on the separation of right- and left-"handed" particles, points to a range of potential applications in energy, quantum computing, and medical imaging, and possibly even a new mechanism for inducing superconductivity—the ability of some materials to carry current with no energy loss.

This "chiral magnetic effect" had been predicted theoretically to occur in superdense nuclear matter by Dmitri Kharzeev and collaborators. However the effect had been never observed definitively in a materials science laboratory at the time this work was done. In fact, when physicists in Brookhaven's Condensed Matter Physics & Materials Science Department (CMP&MS) first measured the significant drop in electrical resistance, and the accompanying dramatic increase in conductivity, in zirconium telluride, they were quite surprised. "We didn't know this large magnitude of 'negative magnetoresistance' was possible," said Qiang Li. To test that the separation of charges could be triggered by a chiral imbalance, they compared their measurements with the mathematical predictions of how powerful the increase in conductivity should be with increasing magnetic field strength. Tonica Valla performed the measurements and visualizations using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) that confirmed that zirconium telluride indeed contained chiral quasi-particles.

For a complete press release of Stony Brook University, see here.

The results are published in the journal Nature Physics.

See more here.

Photo by R. Stoutenburgh, BNL

New CNC Milling Machine  
We are proud to present the latest addition to our Mechanical Workshop: A Vectrax 3-axis CNC milling machine. The new machine greatly enhances our milling capabilities for producing one of a kind pieces and small production runs with precise accuracy. It can import files from Mastercam, Solidworks and AutoCAD. The milling machine has a centroid controller and a fourth axis computer controlled rotary table for cylindrical profiling. It features an onboard Mastercam. It will machine components from small to large with maximum dimensions: travel X=31.75", Y=16.5" and Z=6" with.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy full service Machine Shop provides to the SUNY campus community a wide range of technical support for mechanical systems design as well as extensive manufacturing capabilities. The Machine Shop is particularly well suited for the design and manufacturing of research and prototype systems. The shop is available to provide clients a wide extent of precision fabrication services from prototype one-offs to production runs.

See more here.

Ice-like Phonons in Liquid Water  
For more than 100 years, scientists have debated what the underlying molecular structure of water is, and the common view has been that H2O molecules are either "water-like" or "ice-like". Now through computer simulation conducted at the Institute for Advanced Computational Science (IACS) at Stony Brook University, researchers can illustrate that the structure and dynamics of hydrogen bonding in liquid water is more similar to ice than previously thought. The finding, published in Nature Communications, changes the common understanding of the molecular nature of water and has relevance to many fields, such as climate science and molecular biophysics, and technologies such as desalinization and water-based energy production.

In the paper, "The hydrogen-bond network of water supports propagating optical phonon-like modes," lead author Daniel C. Elton, a PhD candidate, and Marivi Fernandez-Serra, PhD, Associate Professor, in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and IACS, show that propagating vibrations or phonons can exist in water, just as in ice. By centering on water's unique hydrogen bond network, they routinely demonstrated that optical phonon-like modes can propagate the hydrogen bond network, just as in ice. Unlike in ice, however, hydrogen bonds in water are constantly being broken and reformed, so the phonons only last for about one trillionth of a second yet can travel over long distances up to two nanometers.

See more here.


Links to all "What's new" sections: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and the latest.


Facebook   Linkedin   Address:
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800
Phone: (631) 632 8100
Fax: (631) 632 8176
WEB page maintained by
Maria Sukhanova
Unless otherwise noted, all content © Department of Physics and Astronomy, Stony Brook University.