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Colloquia & Seminars, Fall 2014

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From cosmology to cold atoms

Speaker: Cheng Chin
Date: Friday,December 5, 2014
Time: 4 PM
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract:   Sakharov acoustic oscillation, conventionally discussed in the context of early universe evolution and cosmic microwave background anisotropy, is the manifestation of interfering acoustic waves generated in an ideal fluid. We report a laboratory observation of Sakharov oscillations in a quenched atomic superfluid. From in situ imaging of the sample, Sakharov oscillations are identified from the space-time correlations of the atomic distribution, resembling that of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Our experiment provides new perspectives to quantum simulate other intriguing cosmological and gravitational phenomena with ultracold atoms.

About the speaker: Cheng Chin, James Franck institute, Enrico Fermi institute, Department of Physics, University of Chicago

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The Wonders of Superconductivity: Quantum Mechanics at the Human Scale!

Speaker: Alexis Reymbaut
Date: Friday,November 14, 2014
Time: 4 PM
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract:  Developed in the 20's, quantum mechanics is the weirdest physics theory of all! Yet, it has since given birth to a real revolution, not only through its building concepts but also through its applications, such as the transistor, a basic component of any electronic device. Often thought of as the theory of the infinitely small, its effects can actually be seen at our scale, if you know where and how to look! One of the most amazing manifestations of quantum mechanics is superconductivity! This phase of matter characterizes a large majority of materials, which once sufficiently cooled down, start conducting direct current perfectly and repelling magnetic fields! The applications of these properties could lead to another incredible revolution on so many levels: energy, environment, transportation, and fundamental science… However, the very low temperatures required to induce superconductivity still limit its applications. In this talk, I will start by presenting a few intriguing concepts of quantum mechanics. Then I will use the real nature of electrons to make my way towards superconductivity! We will see through its history and the active scientific research always pushing it further that superconductivity is truly an unrivalled wonder of nature!

About the speaker:  Alexis Reymbaut received his masters degree from L'Université Paris-Sud in France and is now a doctoral student at the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada

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Entrepreneurship Education for Physics Majors: What, When, Where, Why, and How?

Speaker: Dr. Kishor T. Kapale
Date: Friday,October 31, 2014
Time: 4 PM
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract:  I attended a workshop entitled "Reinventing the Physicist: Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education for the 21st century" over the summer at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. The workshop was based on understanding that the largest employment base for physicists is in the private sector and traditional physics program do so little to prepare the physics majors to meet the challenges they face in the industrial world. In this talk I will discuss some of the employment data to understand the trends of the job marketplace and will talk about the existing Physics Entrepreneurship programs and their success. In essence, I will provide a summary of the things I heard in the 2-day workshop. For physics students, I hope to provide a clearer picture of the real world they will be getting into after graduation and how to prepare themselves for long-term success. For the physics educators, I hope to provide a slightly different viewpoint or perspective on the teaching of physics in order to make it increasingly relevant to the real world.

About the speaker:   Dr. Kapale is a theoretical physicist whose research focuses on quantum optics, atomic optics, quantum information theory and applied quantum physics. Dr. Kapale did his MS in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (now Mumbai). He did his PhD work at Texas A&M University in the area of theoretical quantum optics. After spending a semester at Princeton University he moved to Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology as a National Research Council Research Associate and NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. He joined the WIU Department of Physics in Fall of 2007.

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Density functional theory based approach towards materials design

Speaker:Dr. Faisal Mehmood
Date: Friday, 26, 2014
Time: 4 PM
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract:In past few years every field of science and engineering has enjoyed benefits of vast expansion of capabilities of high performance computing. The field of computational materials science is certainly one of those branches of science. Quantum chemical calculations are considered essential in providing computational insight into the chemical and physical processes that determine the properties of different types of materials. Recently there has been a significant effort in designing new catalysts suitable for specific application using density functional theory. Such approach in theory-based design of materials with desired functional properties will revolutionize the materials discovery process. In this talk I will discuss advances made in this field specifically the case of subnanometer metal cluster where this approach has been very successful. The role density functional theory (DFT) plays in explaining the effect of size, composition and oxide support on the catalytic activity of a series of subnanometer clusters will be discussed. Understanding these effects is instrumental in understanding fundamental aspects of catalysis that may lead to the development of new classes of catalysts. Several examples will be presented, including 1) activation of the C=C bind in propylene to form propylene oxide on alumina- supported silver trimers [1], 2)oxidative dehydrogenation of propane to form propylene on alumina supported platinum clusters [2], 3) methanol decomposition on alumina-supported palladium clusters [3]. I will discuss how comparative studies of the clusters can be used to quantitatively determine the key reactivity descriptors for specific reactions. Initial results have already suggested, for example, that alloys of Pd and Cu might offer a compromise between the excessive CO binding that plagues Pd clusters and the sluggish kinetics of the Cu clusters [4]. Rest of the talk will focus on the scaling relationships based on first principles calculations that are used to estimate thermodynamics and kinetics of a wide range of pure transition metal clusters and bimetallic alloys [5,6 ]

  1. Y. Lei, F. Mehmood, S. Lee, J. P. Greeley, B. Lee, S. Seifert, R. E. Winans, J. W. Elam, R. J. Meyer, P. C. Redfern, D. Teschner, R. Schlögl, M. J. Pellin, L. C. Curtiss and S. Vajda, Science 328 (2010).
  2. S. Vajda, M. J. Pellin, J. P. Greeley, C. L. Marshall, L. A. Curtiss, G. A. Ballentine, J. W. Elam, S. Catillon-Mucherie, P. C. Redfern , F. Mehmood, and P. Zapol, Nature Materials 9, (2009).
  3. F. Mehmood, J. Greeley and L. A. Curtiss, J. Phys. Chem. C 113 (2009).
  4. F. Mehmood, R. Rankin, J. Greeley and L. A. Curtiss, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 14 (2012).
  5. G. Ferguson, F. Mehmood, T. Rankin, J. Greeley and L. A. Curtiss, Topics in Catalysis 55 (2012).
  6. L. Cheng, C. Yin, F. Mehmood, et. al., ACS Catalysis 4 (2014).

About the speaker: Dr. Faisal Mehmood is working at Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio as a Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Research Scientist.

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