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November 14, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Atomic beltway could solve problems of cosmic gravity

When is a traffic jam not a traffic jam? When it's a quantum traffic jam, of course. Only in quantum physics can traffic be standing still and moving at the same time. A new theoretical paper from scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland suggests that intentionally creating just such a traffic jam out of a ring of several thousand ultracold atoms could enable precise measurements of motion. If implemented with the right experimental setup, the atoms could provide a measurement of gravity, possibly even at distances as short as 10 micrometers—about a tenth of a human hair's width.
October 28, 2016 | People News | Research News

Artificial atoms shed light on the future of security

From credit card numbers to bank account information, we transmit sensitive digital information over the internet every day. Since the 1990s, though, researchers have known that quantum computers threaten to disrupt the security of these transactions. That’s because quantum physics predicts that these computers could do some calculations far faster than their conventional counterparts. This would let a quantum computer crack a common internet security system called public key cryptography. This system lets two computers establish private connections hidden from potential hackers. In public key cryptography, every device hands out copies of its own public key, which is a piece of digital information.  Any other device can use that public key to scramble a message and send it back to the first device. The first device is the only one that has another piece of information, its private key, which it uses to decrypt the message. Two computers can use this method to create a secure channel and send information back and forth. A quantum computer could quickly calculate another device’s private key and read its messages, putting every future communication at risk. But many scientists are studying how quantum physics can fight back and help create safer communication lines.
October 20, 2016 | Research News

Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms using neutrons

For the first time, a team including scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and JQI have used neutron beams to create holograms of large solid objects, revealing their interior details in ways that ordinary holograms do not.Holograms—flat images that look like three-dimensional objects—owe their striking look to interfering waves. Both matter and light behave like waves at the smallest scales, and just like water waves traveling on the surface of the pond, waves of matter or light can combine to create information-rich interference patterns.Illuminating an object with a laser can create an optical hologram. But instead of merely photographing the light reflected from the object, a hologram records how the reflected light waves interfere with each other. The resulting patterns, based on the waves’ phase differences, or relative positions of their peaks and valleys, contain far more information about an object’s appearance than a simple photo. Generally, though, they don’t reveal much about its interior.
October 14, 2016 | PFC | Research News

A closer look at Weyl physics

The 2015 discovery of a Weyl semimetal—and the Weyl fermions it harbored—provoked a flurry of activity from researchers around the globe. A quick glance at a recent physics journal or the online arXiv preprint server testifies to the topic’s popularity. The arXiv alone has had more than 200 papers on Weyl semimetals posted in 2016.Researchers at JQI and the Condensed Matter Theory Center (CMTC) at the University of Maryland have been interested in Weyl physics since before last summer’s discovery, publishing 18 papers on the topic over the past two years. In all, more than a dozen scientists at Maryland have been working to understand the fundamental properties of these curious new materials.
October 13, 2016 | PFC | People News

L'Oréal-UNESCO award goes to former JQI student researcher

Karina Jiménez-García, a former visiting graduate student who worked with JQI Fellow Ian Spielman, was one of 30 young women scientists to receive a 2016 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowship. She was selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants and received the award for her ongoing research on the quantum behavior of ultra-cold atoms."This is a recognition that I owe to all those that have guided and inspired me and those who have supported me throughout my professional career, especially my family," says Jiménez-García, who is currently a postdoctoral researchers at the Kastler Brossel Laboratory at the Collège de France in Paris. She plans to use the funds from the fellowship to build a handful of physics demonstrations that will appeal to young students and to fund travel to conferences in Mexico, where she hopes to start her own research group in the future.The award, which launched in 2007, has given fellowships to more than 140 women in France who are either studying toward a Ph.D. in the life or physical sciences or working as postdoctoral researchers. The criteria for selection include a proven academic track record and the ability to inspire the next generation of scientists. For the first time since the fellowship launched, L'Oréal organized a public event, held on October 12, that included lectures and interviews with this year's winners.While at JQI, Jiménez-García worked on creating synthetic electric and magnetic fields for ultra-cold clouds of atoms. In a series of papers, she and a team of experimental colleagues showed that lasers could coax atoms without an electric charge into behaving like charged particles in magnetic and electric fields. The work is still a fertile area of research for Spielman and could enrich the toolkit for atomic physicists interested in simulating other quantum systems with clouds of atoms.
October 6, 2016 | PFC | Research News

A warm welcome for Weyl physics

For decades, particle accelerators have grabbed headlines while smashing matter together at faster and faster speeds. But in recent years, alongside the progress in high-energy experiments, another realm of physics has been taking its own exciting strides forward.That realm, which researchers call condensed matter physics, studies chunks of matter moving decidedly slower than the protons in the LHC. In fact, the materials under study—typically solids or liquids—are usually sitting still. That doesn't make them boring, though. Their calm appearance can often hide exotic physics that arises from their microscopic activity."In condensed matter physics, the energy scales are much lower," says Pallab Goswami, a postdoctoral researcher at JQI and the Condensed Matter Theory Center (CMTC) at the University of Maryland. "We want to go to lower energies and find new phenomena, which is exactly the opposite of what is done in particle physics."
October 4, 2016 | People News | Research News

Physics Nobel honors underpinnings of exotic matter

A trio of researchers who laid the foundation for understanding numerous exotic phases of matter have split the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics.The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the prize "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter" to three laureates: David Thouless of the University of Washington, Duncan Haldane of Princeton University and Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University."It is a very, very well-deserved prize," says JQI Fellow and CMTC Director Sankar Das Sarma. "This work led to an extremely exciting area and that excitement is still growing."The research behind the prize "illustrates, in a very nice way, the interplay between physics and mathematics," Thors Hans Hansson, a physicist at Stockholm Univsersity, said in an interview following the announcement ceremony. He explained the mathematics behind the prize during the ceremony using a cinnamon bun, a bagel and a pretzel.
September 30, 2016 | People News

QuICS hosts international cryptography conference in Washington, D.C.

Researchers from around the globe descended on downtown Washington, D.C. recently for the 6th International Conference on Quantum Cryptography, known colloquially as QCrypt.More than 250 physicists, mathematicians, cryptographers and engineers spent five days (Sept. 12–16) at the Carnegie Institution for Science discussing quantum principles and other techniques relevant to cryptography, which is the study of how to communicate securely.
September 19, 2016 | People News

In memoriam: Physicist Deborah Jin (1968-2016)

The JQI community joins our colleagues at JILA and NIST in mourning the loss of Deborah Jin, a pioneer in the physics of ultracold gases, an area of research that joins condensed matter and atomic physics. Jin was an outstanding scientist, colleague, and mentor. To learn more about Jin's life, research and accomplishments, please read the remembrances by JILA and NIST.For those who wish to share their memories of Deborah Jin, JILA invites you to post them here.
September 8, 2016 | People News

JQI welcomes new Fellow Maissam Barkeshli

This Fall, theoretical condensed matter physicist Maissam Barkeshli joined the UMD Department of Physics as an Assistant Professor and a JQI Fellow. In 2010 he received a PhD from MIT under the supervision of Xiao-Gang Wen. Since then he has been a Simons Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University (2010-2013) and a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft's Station Q, located at UC Santa Barbara (2013-2016).

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