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nuggetTuesday, Dec 18 2007

Pablo Laguna elected to the Mexican Academy of Sciences

Professor Pablo Laguna is one of four international members elected to the Acedemia Mexicana de Ciencias in 2007. The Academia Mexicana de Ciencias is the Mexican equivalent of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences. The Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, founded in 1959, is an organization of the most distinguished scientists working in diverse institutions in Mexico, as well as Corresponding Members in other countries who are prominent in their disciplines and have contributed in various ways to the development of research in Mexico. A ceremony to celebrate the occasion is planned for March 2008 at Dr. Laguna's alma mater, the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana - Iztapalapa in Mexico City.
nuggetWednesday, Dec 12 2007

Five new APS Fellows from Penn State Physics

Five members of the department, Professors John Collins, Vincent Crespi, Paul Sommers, David Weiss and Xiao-xing Xi, have been elected Fellows of the American Physical Society, with the following citations: "For seminal contributions to the foundation of quantum chromodynamics, including the proofs of a series of factorization theorems, and the analysis of high energy scattering;" "For creative ideas and innovative computations enhancing our understanding of nanoscale matter and predicting new structures and materials with properties possessing technological and/or fundamental scientific value;" "For his significant contributions to experimental cosmic ray physics, for his major part in designing and building the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory, and his leadership role in using it to obtain novel and important insights into the nature and properties of the highest energy cosmic rays;" "For seminal contributions to laser cooling, precision measurements, the study of atoms in optical lattices, and for the experimental implementation of one-dimensional gases;" "For his extensive and seminal contributions to the science and applications of thin film materials including high temperature superconductors, ferroelectrics, and magnesium diboride." More...
nuggetFriday, Nov 30 2007

Faculty Search

The Department of Physics at The Pennsylvania State University (University Park) invites applications for faculty appointments effective the Fall semester of 2008. Applicants should have a Ph.D. and an outstanding research record. Rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

We seek to recruit in the areas of AMO physics, condensed matter theory and cosmology of the early universe. However, exceptional candidates in any of the department's current areas of research will be considered. These areas are AMO physics, biological physics, condensed matter physics, gravitational physics, particle physics and particle astrophysics.

Candidates at the junior level should submit by email a pdf file containing a letter of application, a curriculum vitae and a brief description of research plans, and arrange for four letters of recommendation to be sent to:

Nominations and applications for senior positions should be sent to the address above together with a list of at least six references. Applications completed by December 1,2007 will be assured of consideration. However, applications will be considered until the positions are filled. Job application assistance is available for dual career situations. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.

nuggetWednesday, Nov 28 2007

ECoS Staff Customer Service Award

Ms. Megan Meinecke of the Physics department office staff was awarded the ECoS Staff Customer Service Award at the 15th Annual Eberly College of Science Staff Recognition Reception. Ms. Meinecke joined the Physics Department just three years ago and now holds the titles of both Undergraduate and Graduate Coordinator, manages and oversees many of the day-to-day activities in the Physics main office, and has been named to several departmental and College committees, including the climate committee and Physics Department Graduate Task Force. One of the letters nominating her for the award cited her as someone " whom everyone (staff and faculty) look to for guidance, instruction, and as a role model of efficiency, dedication, and the highest standards of performance at Penn State." Ms. Meinecke graduated from Penn State University in 2004 with a degree in Economics.
nuggetTuesday, Nov 27 2007

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Mr. Vincent Viscomi (Astronomy/Astrophysics, Physics, and Math major, Class of 2008) has been awarded a $10,000 fellowship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). The award was presented to him by Space Shuttle Astronaut Capt. Robert `Hoot' Gibson at a ceremony at the HUB this November. Viscomi is pursuing triple majors in astronomy & astrophysics, physics and mathematics. He plans to complete a doctorate in physics and conduct research in particle physics and cosmology at a major research institution. He works with Prof. Doug Cowen of the Physics Department for the Penn State affliliated IceCube Neutrino Observatory as an undergraduate assistant, where he has helped to develop computer software that assists in the detection of neutrinos. Mr. Viscomi is a member of the Schreyer Honors College and was also a recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship in Spring 2007.
nuggetWednesday, Nov 21 2007

Compact for Faculty Diversity Institute

Stephon was a featured speaker in the opening session of the 14th annual Compact for Faculty Diversity Institute, a three-day conference on teaching and mentoring hosted by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), an educational advocacy organization based in Atlanta. Hundreds of doctoral candidates, faculty and university administrators participated in the three-day conference on teaching and mentoring and to address the shortage of racial and ethnic minority faculty members on college and university campuses nationwide. Here is an excerpt from the associated article. "Speaking on the barriers to access and success as faculty, institute presenters shared their experiences of overcoming the pitfalls of the professoriate. You definitely need a strong back, said Dr. Stephon Alexander of Penn State University, to a crowd of students during Fridays opening session. You will face many challenges, but none of them harder than the challenges that those who preceded you faced. Alexander, an assistant professor of physics, refused to believe that physics was an area academia reserved for the White and privileged. Haunted by the stereotype that people of color do not succeed in the field of mathematics and science during his undergraduate career at Haverford College, Alexander worked harder to succeed at his postgraduate endeavors. After studying at Imperial College in London, then landing a job at Stanford University, Alexander experienced some not so subtle stereotyping. They assumed that I was the affirmative action kid, said Alexander. Alexander emphasized the importance of persistence and self-identity. He advised students to be strong and to insert their own brand of originality and passion in their field. Promising that ones passion for their profession would not go unnoticed. For me, doing physics is like playing jazz, said Alexander who is also a musician. When I do physics, no one does it the way that I do it. " More...
nuggetTuesday, Nov 20 2007

Cosmic rays and active galactic nuclei

The Pierre Auger Collaboration has found evidence that the highest energy cosmic rays are produced by active galactic nuclei. This international collaboration of physicists announced in the cover story of the November 9th (2007) issue of Science Magazine that they observe a statistically significant correlation between the arrival directions of the highest energy cosmic rays and positions of these objects that are less than 240 million light years from Earth. Active galactic nuclei are believed to be supermassive black holes that are consuming gas and dust at the centers of some galaxies. The correlation is based on 27 particles, with energy in excess of 10 Joules each, which were recorded while the observatory was being constructed in Argentina. The array of detectors in Argentina has now reached its full size of 3000 square kilometers, and a northern site for the Auger Observatory is planned for southeast Colorado. The Penn State team involved in this project include Sanjeevi Atulugama, Jose Bellido, Stephane Coutu, Adrienne Criss, Michael Roberts and Paul Sommers. Paul Sommers was also elected co-spokesperson for the Pierre Auger Collaboration beginning in November 2007.
nuggetWednesday, Nov 14 2007

Species in Tropical Forests and Coral Reefs

The latest development in a major debate over a controversial hypothesis of biodiversity and species abundance is the subject of a paper in the 1 November 2007 issue of the journal Nature. The authors report good agreement between the species richness of two of the world's most vulnerable ecosystems—tropical forests and coral reefs—and a simple mathematical model building on the so-called "neutral theory of biodiversity." "We're helping to refine and improve this theory because it might have important implications for the effort to protect terrestrial biodiversity from climate change and urban development," says Jayanth Banavar of the Department of Physics at Penn State, a member of the research team. More... (Image: Barbara K. Kennedy)
nuggetSunday, Nov 4 2007

Ashtekar elected Fellow of AAAS

Professor Abhay Ashtekar has been elected a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
nuggetFriday, Nov 2 2007

Heat Capacity of a Supersolid?

As written in Science NOW: "In recent years, no topic in condensed matter physics has been hotter than the study of ultracold solid helium. Subtle experiments suggest that as temperatures dip toward absolute zero, crystalline helium can bizarrely flow like a liquid with no viscosity, a phenomenon known as supersolidity. Now, a new experiment lends credence to that controversial claim by revealing a possible second sign of the transition." More...
nuggetSaturday, Oct 20 2007

Professor Reka Albert

A conversation with Reka Albert swings rapidly from the most abstract concepts to the most tangible details and back again. That's because Albert, associate professor in both physics and biology, has forged a hybrid career that investigates problems in biological systems -- drought stress in plants or disease in animals -- by creating computational representations called network models. Models, explained Albert, are sets of assumptions about how something in nature works, paired with algorithms that calculate the consequences of interactions within the system. "For each of the systems I study," she said, "I'm trying to find the mathematical model that will most accurately describe how the system changes over time. The goal is for it to be predictive." More...
nuggetThursday, Sep 20 2007

New Citizen

Professor Stephane Coutu became a U.S. Citizen on September 20, 2007.
nuggetThursday, Aug 16 2007

Neutral atom array for quantum computation

Hundreds of single neutral atoms have been trapped and imaged in a three-dimensional array, an important step in the development of a neutral atom quantum computer. Karl Nelson and Xiao Li, working in the group of Professor David Weiss, have demonstrated that detection of these atoms results in negligible loss and negligible site hopping. By using focused laser beams and microwaves to implement site-selective quantum gates, Weiss' group plans to make each atom in the array function as a qubit. A quantum computer with only 50 qubits would be large enough to obtain results that are out of the reach of classical computers. (K.D. Nelson, X. Li, and D.S. Weiss, Nature Physics 3, 556 (2007)).
nuggetWednesday, Aug 15 2007

ACS Nano debuts

The first issue of ACS Nano has just appeared in print and on the web. The inaugural issue contains an editorial by the Editor-in-chief, Professor Paul Weiss, appropriately entitled "Welcome to ACS Nano," plus "A conversation with Heinrich Rohrer: STM co-inventor and one of the founding fathers of nanoscience". Additional sections are entitled "Nanofocus", "Perspective", and "Articles". ACS Nano is a sister publication to NanoLetters and publishes comprehensive articles on Nanoscience across disciplines. More...
nuggetFriday, Aug 3 2007

Xanthopoulos Prize

The International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation (ISGRG) has awarded the Xanthopoulos prize 2007 jointly to Martin Bojowald and Thomas Thiemann for their contributions to background independent quantum gravity. The award is made tri-annually to researchers under the age of 40 working in the field of gravity. Martin Bojowald's work focuses on quantum cosmology and the derivation of effective equations to compute physical phenomena in the early universe.
nuggetThursday, Jul 19 2007

Before the Big Bang

A new, mathematically solvable model of quantum cosmology provides detailed insights into how the universe could have emerged from a pre-existing one which was collapsing before the big bang. In this simplified model, the collapse of the precursor universe is halted when it reaches high energy densities by a repulsive force whose origin lies in quantum gravity. Afterwards, the universe expands and evolves through the standard phases of the big bang model. The solvable model allows one to compute the full quantum state before and after the big bang. One can thus address the question, in what quantum state the universe may have been before the big bang, based on assumptions on its present state. It turns out that a form of uncertainty relations limits what can be said about the early quantum state, since quantum fluctuations before and after the big bang appear complementary to each other. More...
nuggetThursday, Jul 19 2007

Gamma-Ray Bursts: Flashes in the Sky

Gamma-ray bursts- flashes of intense radiation in space that are often just seconds long-were accidentally discovered in the 1960's by satellites built to monitor nuclear bomb explosions. They have been one of the leading astrophysical mysteries ever since. A 6 minute video "Astro Bulletin" entitled "Gamma-Ray Bursts: Flashes in the Sky" (flash, quicktime), prepared by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, introduces the scientists and instruments working to unravel the origins of gamma-ray bursts. It highlights Swift, NASA's burst-detecting satellite, and PAIRITEL, one of a fleet of ground-based telescopes that point toward a gamma-ray burst in response to Swift's alert to capture the afterglow before it fades. Astrophysicists at Penn State and other institutions are analyzing these afterglows to understand what causes the most powerful explosions known. More...
nuggetThursday, Jul 12 2007

Stephon Alexander on NOVA

Stephon is featured on the NOVA web site in an audio clip in a section called The Big Deal. "When CERN's Large Hadron Collider is completed in 2008, it will be the world's largest and most expensive machine. Why build an $8 billion behemoth to search for the smallest particles in the universe? Seven top physicists describe why it's so important, and explain what they hope to find... 'The thing that would surprise me the most is if we don't find the Higgs particle, which is responsible for endowing mass to all the other elementary particles. Our whole universe is permeated with the Higgs, but we still haven't seen this particle. And that's what one of the big goals of the LHC will be. I think, for me, the big problem is understanding, is the Higgs fundamental? Is it something that parameterizes some yet unknown new physics? You know, if we find the Higgs, or if we don't find the Higgs, it will tell us about what that new physics could be. If we could probe a theory beyond this model that we have that describes all of physics except for gravity at a quantum-mechanical level, the first thing that would go through my mind is a quote by Albert Einstein, in which he said, "the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it's comprehensible." But if we don't know, if the experiments tell us something that comes from left field, and we're like, "What's going on here? The standard model works so well, but now it doesn't work at all," then it's not gonna stop us from trying to figure that out. But we'd need to go back to the drawing board and think all over again about how particle physics is connected to the cosmos.' More... (Image: NOVA, PBS)
nuggetTuesday, Jun 12 2007

Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Hall Systems-2

The international workshop on Emergent Properties of Quantum Hall Systems-2 (EPQHS2) was held at The Pennsylvania State University, June 13-16, 2007. The year 2007 also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the publication of the fractional quantum Hall effect discovery paper. The first workshop of this series was held at Taos, NM, in 2005. The aim of the workshop is to bring together leading scientists and young researchers working on emergent collective phenomena in low-dimensional electronic systems at high magnetic fields. The workshop intends to focus on the exciting recent developments and promising future directions in quantum Hall effect, a field that continues to remain one of the frontier areas of research in condensed matter physics. Some topics of the workshop are Bose-Einstein condensation in bilayer systems, fractional abelian and nonabelian statistics, quantum computation, QHE in graphene, second-generation composite fermion states, microwave radiation induced zero-resistance state, QHE-like physics in cold atoms, novel excitations, edge Tomonaga-Luttinger liquid, etc. The focus is on fundamental concepts and new research directions. More...
nuggetWednesday, May 30 2007

Professor Jin wins Sloan

Dezhe Jin, assistant professor of physics, has been awarded Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in recognition of his work as young scientist engaged in cutting-edge research in neuroscience. These awards are intended to enhance the careers of the very best young faculty members in specified fields of science. Currently, a total of 116 fellowships are awarded annually in seven fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. Jin's research focuses on theoretical analysis of the biophysical properties of neural networks and their applications to neurobiological functions. The goal of this research is to construct biologically detailed computational models of neurobiological functions guided by theoretical studies of neural networks. Jin's research includes computational models of neurobiological functions, such as song generation and recognition in songbirds, as important animal models for studying speech generation and recognition; motor control in basal ganglia; recognition of complex olfaction patterns as observed in insects and mammals; and processing of visual information, including the formation of feature maps in the visual cortex.
nuggetFriday, May 25 2007

Undergraduate Accomplishments

Tina Lin (2007) has been awarded both an NSF Graduate Fellowship and a NDSEG (National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate) Fellowship. Ms. Lin represented the Department of Physics at the 2007 Eberly College of Science Graduation as our 'Standard Bearer' and was also awarded the Douglas G. and Regina C. Evans Research Achievement Award at the 2007 Schreyer Honors Medal Ceremony and will begin graduate studies in Physics at Harvard next year. Matthew Lohr (2007) has also won an NDSEG Fellowship and was named an Honorable Mention in the NSF Graduate Fellowship program and will start graduate studies in Physics at UPenn next Fall. Ms. Kelly Hanna (2007) and Ms. Rachel Peet (2007) were honored for their service to Penn State by having been given an 'Outstanding Service Award' from the Women in Science And Engineering Institute and the first-ever 'Student Service Award' sponsored by the Eberly College of Science Alumni Board, respectively. Ms. Peet was also the SPS president the last two years and shared the 2007 Jean Bennet Award from the Physics Department (with Mr. Lohr). Mr. William McConville (2007) and Mr. Andrew Mshar (2007) shared the 2007 'Langhorne H. Brickwedde Recognition Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Physics', the departmental undergraduate reseach award. Mr. John McManigle (2008) and Mr. Vincent Viscomi (2008) each were recipients of a 2007 Goldwater Fellowship. Mr. McManigle is a Physics major (with Math and Biology minors) while Mr. Viscomi is a triple major with Astronomy/Astrophysics, Physics, and Math. John works with Prof. Paul Weiss and Vince works with Prof. Doug Cowen.
nuggetFriday, May 11 2007

Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays, Neutrinos and Photons workshop

The Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays, Neutrinos and Photons workshop will be held Wednesday, May 16 and Thursday, May 17 in 100 Life Sciences of the Penn State University Park campus. The workshop, sponsored by the Center for Particle Astrophysics, will bring together key experts to review recent advances and to examine future prospects for Auger, IceCube, ACTs, GLAST/Agile and other experiments aimed at understanding the nature of the highest energy sources in the Universe. The emphasis will be on the confrontation between physical models and the vast array of new data that is being accumulated. There will be five major review talks and invited reviewers include: Felix Aharonian, Francis Halzen, Peter Michelson, Alan Watson and Eli Waxman. There will also be a number of invited talks emphasizing key physical questions and strategies for exploiting multi-channel observations with different experiments in understanding astrophysical sources. There will be a substantial amount of time devoted to discussion sessions. A workshop program is available. More...
nuggetFriday, May 11 2007

The quantum solid that defies expectation

The May issue on Physics World contains an article describing work in Moses Chan's group on quantum effects in solid helium, particularly the role of disorder. More...
nuggetFriday, May 4 2007

Hopkins wins C. I. Noll Award

The C. I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented annually to faculty members and instructors in the college who demonstrate a record of excellence in both teaching and in interactions with students. Instituted in 1972 and named in honor of Clarence I. Noll, dean of the college from 1965 to 1971, the award is the highest honor for undergraduate teaching in the college. Winners are chosen by a committee of students and faculty from nominees suggested by students, faculty, and alumni.
nuggetThursday, May 3 2007

Thomas W. Phelan Fellows Award

Will Castleman is the 2007 recipient of the Rensselaer Alumni Association Thomas W. Phelan Fellows Award. This RAA Fellows Award was created in the fall of 1987 by the Board of the Association. It honors those alumni or friends of Rensselaer, who by their achievements in a chosen profession or endeavor or by their service to the Institute, have set an example for Rensselaer men and women to emulate. More...
nuggetSaturday, Apr 21 2007

Ultra-precise Scattering with Juggled Atoms

When two atoms collide at temperatures that are millionths of a degree above absolute zero, the collision results in a quantum mechanical superposition of two possible outcomes: each atom continuing undeflected, and each atom scattering as an outgoing spherical wave with an s-wave phase shift. A recent paper in Nature describes the experiment at Penn State that collides two clouds of ultracold atoms by upwardly tossing two clouds in rapid succession. Graduate student Russ Hart and post-doc Xinye Xu, working in the group of Kurt Gibble, prepared the atoms in one cloud in a coherent superposition of two internal states. ?By detecting only the scattered s-wave part of each atom?s wavefunction, we are able to read out s-wave phase shifts with atomic clock accuracy. The s-wave phase shifts are central to dynamics in Bose-Einstein condensates, degenerate Fermi gases, and frequency shifts in atomic clocks and other precision measurements. Their technique can be so precise that it may be able to answer the question of whether fundamental constants change with time. More...
nuggetFriday, Apr 13 2007

Jain appointed editor of PRL

Professor Jainendra Jain has been appointed a Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters.
nuggetThursday, Mar 22 2007

David Weiss wins Faculty Scholar Medal

Professor David Weiss has been awarded the Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal for the Physical Sciences for his work with ultra-cold atomic gases. His experiments trap atoms in optical lattices, which are crystals made of light, to address a wide range of physical problems, including quantum simulations, quantum computation, and precision measurements. The goals of this work including the development and testing of fundamental theories in condensed matter physics, high energy physics, and statistical mechanics, and the creation of cold atom devices.
nuggetWednesday, Mar 21 2007

Radu Roiban awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

Radu Roiban has been awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship by the Sloan Foundation. These awards are intended to enhance the careers of young faculty members in seven fields of science: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. Roiban's research in string theory and related fields will be strengthened by this award. String theory is a physical framework that holds promise to unify all known interactions in a quantum mechanically consistent way. Studying it can lead to understanding phenomena ranging from particle physics to quantum gravity.
nuggetTuesday, Mar 20 2007

Eklund named Graffin lecturer

Peter Eklund, professor of physics and of materials science and engineering, has been named the George D. Graffin lecturer in Carbon science and engineering by the American Carbon Society. The lectureship, supported by grants from the Asbury Graphite Mills Inc., honors George D. Graffin, a pioneer in the natural graphite industry. Each year the society selects a lecturer who has made distinguished contributions to carbon science and engineering. Eklund has been recognized internationally for the discovery of the photopolymerization of fullerenes -- or the bonding of two or more of these small molecules under the influence of radiant energy, or light -- a discovery that later was confirmed by nuclear-magnetic-resonance (NMR) imaging. His group also was the first to demonstrate the utility of Vibrational Spectroscopy in characterizing the fundamental properties of several classes of carbon materials, including fullerenes and carbon nanotubes.
nuggetSunday, Mar 18 2007

Composite Fermions Textbook

Jainendra K. Jain, the Erwin W. Mueller Professor of Physics at Penn State, has authored a graduate-level physics textbook titled Composite Fermions, soon to be published by Cambridge University Press. Composite fermions are exotic particles that Jain predicted in 1989 to explain the surprising phenomenon known as the fractional quantum Hall effect, whose discoverers, Horst Stormer and Daniel Tsui, shared the 1998 Nobel prize. Physicists subsequently observed composite fermions in numerous experiments and found that they have many fascinating properties. "Composite fermions form when electrons are confined to two dimensions, cooled to near absolute zero temperature, and subjected to a strong magnetic field," Jain explains. "The composite-fermion quantum fluid is an exotic new collective state of matter, which rivals superfluidity and superconductivity in both its scope and the elegance of the phenomena associated with it." Jain's book describes the theoretical principles and physical manifestations of composite fermions. More...
nuggetThursday, Mar 15 2007

Diehl receives Fulbright Fellowship

Renee Diehl, professor of physics at Penn State, has received a Fulbright Fellowship. As part of her fellowship, Diehl spent six months at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, where she focused on the use of high-energy-resolution atomic-beam scattering to study the fundamental properties of new materials. Diehl said, "We discovered that the diffusional motion of some alkali metal atoms on copper surfaces has a perpendicular component, which was completely unexpected." Diehl's research into the properties of weakly adsorbed atoms on surfaces has led to a new paradigm for the understanding of weak adsorption. She discovered that alkali metal atoms such as potassium and cesium often occupy the top sites, meaning they sit on top of other atoms on surfaces rather than in the spaces between them. After this unexpected discovery, she found, even more surprisingly, that noble gases such as xenon and krypton do the same.
nuggetTuesday, Mar 6 2007

Reka Albert receives CAREER award

Reka Albert has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. The award, which the agency describes as its highest honor for new faculty, provides five years of funding to stimulate the early development of academic careers in science and engineering and to support the critical roles played by faculty members in integrating research and education. This award will further Albert's work to integrate graph inference, network analysis and dynamic modeling approaches into a general framework for reconstructing and modeling biological signal transduction networks. The methodology under development will allow predictive modeling of partially characterized signaling networks where traditional frameworks cannot be applied. More...
nuggetSaturday, Mar 3 2007

Single-crystal Superfluid

High-quality, single-crystal, ultra-cold solid helium exhibits supersolid behavior, suggesting that this frictionless solid flow is not a consequence of defects and grain boundaries in poor-quality, polycrystalline, helium, according to Penn State researchers who presented an update at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. In 2004, Penn state physicists Eunseong Kim, then-graduate student and Moses Chan, Evan Pugh professor of physics announced the observance of superflow in solid helium at nearly absolute zero. This new phenomenon is a cousin of Bose-Einstein condensate observed in gases in 1995 and in liquid helium in 1938. Since then, their results have been replicated at the University of Tokyo, Keio University, Japan, and Cornell University. While the experiment was duplicated at Cornell, one experiment there found that if the solid helium was annealed, the supersolid behavior disappeared. This suggested that supersolidity is possible only in poor-quality solid helium and that the superflow is due to defects in the poorly grown crystals. Tony Clark, graduate student in physics is following up on Kim's experiment to test the Cornell findings. "All solid samples studied to date were made by the so-called blocked capillary method which tends to make poor quality crystals," says Kim. Clark made a new torsional oscillator that allows the growth of solid helium of extremely high crystallinity. The new solid helium is grown from the superfluid phase by keeping the sample cell at the temperature and pressure boundary where both solid and liquid helium coexist. As more helium is very slowly fed into the chamber, a helium crystal grows from the superfluid. These high quality crystals also exhibit supersolid response. More... (Image: J. Passaneau)
nuggetTuesday, Feb 6 2007

Paul Weiss appointed editor of new journal ACS Nano

The American Chemical Society Publications Division has announced the appointment of Paul S. Weiss, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Physics at The Pennsylvania State University, as editor of a new peer-reviewed journal, ACS Nano. Beginning publication third-quarter 2007, ACS Nano will publish full-length articles, perspectives, and editorial commentary. The journal will be featured in an online community that will highlight the Societys activities in the nano area and will foster collaboration within the international nano community through special Web features for researchers in the dynamic and interdisciplinary field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. Areas of interest covered by the new journal will range from synthesis and assembly to functional devices and nanolithography, including chemistry, physics, biology, materials science and engineering. Editorial features will report on issues and thoughts in the field, including "conversations" with key scientists and public figures. ACS Nano will complement the ACS highly successful rapid communication journal Nano Letters, which received a 9.847 ISI impact factor as reported in the 2005 ISI Journal Citation Reports and ranks number one in the ISI category of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology.
nuggetSunday, Feb 4 2007

Samarth receives Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching

Professor Nitin Samath has received the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award is given to four faculty annually to recognize excellence in undergraduate education. More...
nuggetMonday, Jan 22 2007

NASA Award for Record Balloon Flight

Penn State Prof. Stephane Coutu and graduate students Nick Conklin and Isaac Mognet were named in a NASA Group Achievement Award to the CREAM Science and Mission Support Team, in recognition of dedicated service and exemplary technical performance in support of the Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass (CREAM) scientific balloon mission. The CREAM instrument was flown by high-altitude balloon in 2004/05, achieving a flight duration record of 42 days in three circumnavigations of the Antarctic continent. A modified version of the payload was flown again in 2005/06 for a further 28 days. A third version is planned to fly in late 2007. The CREAM mission measures high-energy cosmic nuclei at the limit of direct detectability, in an effort to elucidate the origin of these naturally occurring particles with energies in excess of those in the most powerful human-built particle accelerators today.
nuggetSunday, Jan 21 2007

PSU Alumni Association Dissertation Award

Elena Roxana Margine, working in the research group of Professor Vincent Crespi, has won the Alumni Association Dissertation Award for her work on carbon nanotubes and strained silicon in optical fibers. Roxana's work has revealed new effects in the interplay of electrostatics and quantum confinement in the doping response of carbon nanotubes. She has discovered a novel class of anistropic mixed bonding/antibonding states in doped nanotubes, revealed the universal electrostatic origin of the dramatic doing response of the nearly free electron state in tubes, and has analyzed the smallest possible cylindrical capacitors: double-walled nanotubes.
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