Boston University Physics News Archive: 2013
Graduating seniors Emma Rosenfeld and Daniel Shaffer have been elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa by the Epsilon of Massachusetts Chapter at Boston University. Election to the Society recognizes a demonstrated high level of scholarship and academic achievement in the Liberal Arts. Congratulations Emma and Daniel!
Physics alumnus Nicolas Di Fiori (PhD 2013) and colleagues were recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology for their discovery of a technique to control the speed at which biomolecules such as DNA pass through nanopores. Nanopores are nanometer-scale apertures in very thin ceramics through which molecules can be translocated one at a time and have the potential to unlock low-cost and ultra-fast DNA sequencing technologies. Di Fiori demonstrated that focusing a visible laser beam on a nanopore creates an electro-osmotic flow in the opposite direction of incoming biomolecules. The rushing water acts as a brake, slowing down the passage of the molecules through the pore, allowing a higher-resolution read of DNA nucleotides. He also showed that this technique could be used to identify small proteins that could not previously be detected in their native state, and that the flow reliably unblocks clogged nanopores, significantly extending their lifetime. The full article is available online here.
Our own Andrew Inglis’ company, Silverside Detectors, was the big winner at the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony last night. Here is a quote from the Globe article:
In addition to the MassChallenge winners, the program’s partners awarded another $525,000 in sidecar prizes. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space gave $75,000 to three companies, including Silverside Detectors, which also won $50,000 from MassChallenge and finished the night with the fattest overall purse: $125,000. Silverside makes low-cost radiation detectors designed to spot nuclear bombs in high-traffic areas like airports and subways
We should all congratulate Andrew on this extraordinary accomplishment. He was up against some remarkable companies and came out the best, of 1,200 entrants and 128 finalists. This should serve as an inspiration to all you young people who want to do something to change the world for the better.
Undergraduate Emma Rosenfeld (pictured, far left) was awarded third place at the 16th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium held at BU on October 18, 2013. Her poster, Evaluation of a MicroMegas Muon Detector and Development of an Electronics Testing System for Multi-Channel Detectors, was based on research done under the guidance of Physics Professor Steve Ahlen. Over 260 students presented posters at the event. Read more about the Symposium at the UROP website.
Local startup Silverside Detectors, Inc., co-founded by postdoc Andrew Inglis (PhD 2010), has been chosen as one of 26 finalists in the 2013 MassChallenge Startup Accelerator, which supports high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs by connecting them with the resources they need to launch and succeed immediately. Inglis' company has developed a low-cost lithium thermal neutron detector that would be a fraction of the cost of market-ready technology and would allow governments to build scalable networks of radiation detectors. The MassChallenge awards ceremony will be held on October 30, 2013, where finalists will vie for $1M in accelerator grants. Read more at The Daily Free Press and at the MassChallenge website.
Alumnus M.V. Ramana (PhD 1995) is a co-recipient of the American Physical Society's 2014 Leo Szilard Lectureship Award, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments by physicists in promoting the use of physics for the benefit of society in such areas as the environment, arms control, and science policy. The citation reads: "for outstanding contributions to promote global security issues, through critical analyses of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy programs in India and associated risks in the subcontinent, and efforts to promote peace and nuclear security in South Asia through extensive engagements and writings." Ramana currently holds joint research appointments at the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, where he works on the future of nuclear energy in the context of climate change and nuclear disarmament.
Bennett Goldberg was recognized in this article from the Daily Free Press, WISE-UP specialty residence now officially open for students. This is a great effort for women in science, and we are proud to be involved!
The muon g-2 magnetic ring will complete its move from Brookhaven to Fermilab on Friday, July 26, 2013. The 3200-mile journey took the ring down the Atlantic seaboard, around Florida, and up the Mississippi river. The ring arrived in Lemont, Illinois last Saturday and began its final trek along the Illinois highways on Tuesday. The arrival will be celebrated at Fermilab on Friday (http://muon-g-2.fnal.gov/bigmove/).
Superconducting coils are key components to the 650-ton precision storage ring, which stores muons to measure their anomalous magnetic moment. The storage ring is being moved to Fermilab to enable the next generation experiment expected to improve on previous results by a factor of four. These measurements will be used to probe physics beyond the Standard Model by seeking differences between measured and predicted values that could be ascribed to undiscovered virtual particles. The previous experiment based at Brookhaven Lab, which the BU physics team played a leading role in, observed a 3 to 4 standard deviation difference between experiment and the Standard Model. The g-2 experiment will be constructed between 2013 and 2015, and is expected to start collecting data in 2016. Professor Lee Roberts is co-spokesperson for the new experiment. Other collaborators at Boston University include Professors Jim Miller and Rob Carey, Research Associates Emma Barnes and Ameya Kolarkar, and graduate student Nick Kinnaird. Significant components of the new experiment are being built by the Boston University SIF and EDF.
Professor Theodore Moustakas, who holds joint faculty appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Physics, has won BU’s 2013 Innovator of the Year Award. The award recognizes faculty members who have conducted peer-recognized world-class research and whose research projects show potential for commercialization. Moustakas is the coinventor of the blue light-emitting diode (LED), and is the founder of RayVio Corp, a producer of ultraviolet LEDs, compact, environmentally friendly substitutes for mercury lamps used in water purification and disinfection systems. More information is available at BU Today.
The T2K experiment has reported new results establishing the transformation of muon neutrinos into electron neutrinos. The statistical significance has crossed the 5-sigma barrier, a benchmark widely regarded as a requirement for the definitive observation of a new phenomenon. More information may be found on the BU group's web page at http://physics.bu.edu/sites/neutrino/news/.
Professor Claudio Rebbi has been awarded the 2013 Gitner Award for Distinguished Teaching by the College of Arts and Sciences. The award recognizes excellence and distinguished teaching in the broadest sense, including classroom performance, course and curriculum development, mentoring and other academic engagement with students outside the classroom, and enhancement of the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Second-year graduate student Clint Richardson was named a CAS Outstanding Teaching Fellow for the 2012-2013 academic year. The award honors teaching fellows in each discipline for their tireless work to help undergraduate students achieve their full academic potential. Clint's overall instructor rating was an excellent 4.8 (out of 5) for the Fall 2012 semester; the written evaluations from his students were uniform in their praise of his approachability, skill at explaining difficult concepts, and his ability to inspire their enthusiasm for studying physics. Read more about the award and view a full list of awardees on the CAS website.
Is it possible to change the electronic properties of a solid by driving the underlying atomic lattice out of equilibrium? The electronic structure of materials is typically understood in terms of a static lattice which provides the background for electronic motion. First-year graduate student Tom Iadecola and colleagues studied what happens in graphene when the underlying lattice vibrates in a particular normal mode. They showed that the transport properties of the non-equilibrium problem can be understood by transforming into a reference frame which is co-moving with the vibrating lattice. In this way, they argued that the driven system behaves as a static semiconductor with a band gap whose size can be tuned by adjusting the amplitude of the vibrations. This is in stark contrast to the equilibrium case, where graphene is gapless. Their work was published in Physical Review Letters.
A full synopsis, as well as a link to the original article, can be found on the APS Physics website.
Alumna Oana Malis (PhD, 1999), currently an assistant professor of physics at Purdue University, has received a five-year, $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation. From Purdue's website: "Malis is seeking to demonstrate a non-polar nitride cascade laser to fill the need for ultra-fast compact light sources tunable by design in the entire underutilized near-infrared range. The program will enable a new class of versatile, ultra-fast devices that will facilitate compact, affordable consumer systems and could eventually surpass the commercial success of the blue nitride lasers. The program also will increase exposure of seventh to twelfth graders from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in Central Indiana to the scientific content and method of photonics." Read more about Malis' research here.
Rob Carey has been promoted to the rank of Full Professor. His research is in medium energy precision physics, with active research projects at Fermilab and the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland. Additionally, Rob serves as our Director of Undergraduate Studies, and is the faculty advisor for Photon, our undergraduate physics organization.
Emma Rosenfeld, a junior Physics major, has been named a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar for summer 2013. The award supports undergraduate research projects undertaken by female US citizens. Emma will be working with the Boston University ATLAS group to develop procedures for building and operating a new type of particle detector, called Micromegas. The Micromegas will be used to measure properties of muons produced in collisions at the Large Hadron Collider, and will help to fully explore the characteristics of the recently discovered Higgs boson.
New analyses carried out by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations are lending support to last year's detection of a potential Higgs boson. Since the announcement of their discovery in July 2012, the teams have analyzed more than twice as much data, and so far their results are in line with the predicted measurements for a Standard Model Higgs particle. Read more about their findings on the CAS website.
Alumnus Michael Manfra (PhD 1999) and his team at Purdue University were awarded a $1M research grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop an ultrapure semiconductor capable of acheiving correlated states. The material, a precisely-formed gallium and arsenic lattice, traps electrons in quantum wells; when a magnetic field is applied at very low temperatures, the electrons synchronize and new patterns emerge. Manfra's team aims to reduce the impurities in the lattice that would disturb the correlated state of the electrons. Research on correlated states could have applications in quantum computing, and could even lead the way to new physics. More info is available at Purdue's website. Manfra is the William F. and Patty J. Miller Associate Professor of Physics at Purdue University.
Teacher in Residence Mark Greenman has been honored with the 2012 Paul W. Zitzewitz Award for Excellence in Pre-College Physics Teaching by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). In addition to his 30 year career as a science educator at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts, Greenman has received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for Massachusetts and an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. More information is available on the AAPT website.