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Colloquia & Seminars, Spring 2016

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Atom Interferometry: Fundamentals and Applications

Speaker: Dr. Kishor Kapale
Date: Friday, April 15, 2016
Time: 4pm
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract: Traditionally, interferometry is usually associated with light and is reasonably well understood by the physics community. Furthermore, we have recently witnessed a triumph of the laser interferometry technique in allowing measurement of gravitational waves. Atom interferometry, on the other hand, is not all that well understood by the larger physics community; though, it enjoys a larger class of applications than light interferometry. I plan to discuss fundamental physical processes making atom interferometry possible. I will also compare and contrast its features with ordinary light interferometry and discuss further applications. Towards the end I will make case for a new kind of paradigm in atom interferometry leading to higher sensitivity.

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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X-Rays from Young Stars

Speaker: Dr. Peter Hofner
Date: Friday, April 8, 2016
Time: 4pm
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract: X-ray Astronomy is one of the youngest research areas in Astronomy, dating back only about 50 years since its inception. The field of X-ray astronomy begun with the detection of the Sun in 1949 using Geiger counters on V2 rockets by Herbert Friedman at the NRL. The first extrasolar X-ray source Sco-X1 was detected by Riccardo Giacconi in 1962 with a similar technique. Beginning in 1970 with the UHURU satellite, the era of dedicated orbiting X-ray observatories began, with ever increasing detection sensitivity and angular resolution in the 1 - 10 keV energy range. In 1999, a quantum leap forward occurred with the launch of the CHANDRA and XMM-Newton X-ray telescopes. X-ray emission has now been detected from every type of astronomical object from comets to planets to stars, HII regions, stellar and supermassive black holes, to galaxies and clusters of galaxies. In this talk I will review our present knowledge of X-ray emission from stars with a particular emphasis on young, newly formed stars.

About the speaker:  Dr. Peter Hofner is a professor of Physics at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico, as well as an adjunct assistant scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He obtained a Master of Science degree in Physics from the University of Tuebingen, Germany, and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has held research positions at the University of Cologne, Germany, and the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico. In addition, he was a member of the Physics department faculty at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras. Dr. Hofner's main research interest is the formation of stars. His studies are based on ground-based observations with instruments like the Very Large Array radio telescope, and space-based observations using satellites like the CHANDRA X-ray observatory.

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WIU Physics Department Lecture Series on the Nobel Prizes

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 A Tale of Two Neutrinos

Speaker: Dr. Esteban Araya
Date: Friday, February 19, 2016
Time: 4pm
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract: Continuing our tradition of celebrating the most prestigious annual recognition in Physics, we invite the general public to a talk about the 2015 Physics Nobel Prize, which was awarded to Dr. Takaaki Kajita and Dr. Arthur B. McDonald for breakthrough work on the characterization of one of the most elusive fundamental particles known: the neutrino. Their work solved a long standing question about how our Sun works, and revealed that neutrinos have mass. The phenomenon they discovered, known as neutrino oscillations, has profound implications in fundamental physics and our understanding of the Universe.

About the speaker:  Dr. Esteban Araya is an Associate Professor Professor at WIU Physics department.

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The Quantum World of Spintronics

Speaker: Dr. Roland Winkler
Date: Friday, February 5, 2016
Time: 4pm
Room: 205 Currens Hall

Abstract:Conventional electronics uses the electric charge of the electrons in order to operate a device. However, electrons carry not only a charge but also a spin which is an internal angular momentum. Spintronics seeks to exploit this additional purely quantum mechanical degree of freedom in order to build devices that provide novel functionalities not available in conventional charge-based electronics. In my talk I will review some of the basic physical principles underlying the field of spintronics, as well as some concepts for spintronics devices. In particular, I will show how spin-orbit interaction allows one to steer the electrons' spin in a controlled way.

About the speaker: Dr. Roland Winkler is a professor at Northern Illinois University.

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