The department mourns the loss of Professor Marj Corcoran of Rice University
Monday, February 6, 2017
Dr. Corcoran was killed in a bicycle accident on February 3, 2017. Dr. Corcoran was the 2008 recipient of UW Physics Department’s Distinguished Scientist award in recognition of her work at UW-Madison with Prof. Albert Erwin.
The department mourns the passing of Emeritus Prof. Marv Ebel
Monday, February 6, 2017
Marv passed away January 28, 2017. Prof. Ebel was the 2016 recipient of the department’s Distinguished Service Award, recognizing his years of service in the Department and as an Associate Dean in the Graduate School.
UW-Madison team wins Innovation Award in Hyperloop competition
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
SpaceX and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk, who is the driving force behind the Hyperloop competition, took the opportunity to sit in the Badgerloop pod while touring the various team’s booths. The team purposefully built its pod to fit Musk, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
Coherent Magnetic Response at Optical Frequencies Using Atomic Transitions
Monday, January 23, 2017
Over the last two decades, there has been a growing interest in a new generation of optical tools using materials that are not available in nature. These materials offer the promise of devices with unique capabilities such as super-resolution lenses and optical cloaks. For these materials to work, they must interact strongly with both the magnetic and the electric field of light. However, the interaction of atoms with the magnetic field is almost always ignored since its strength is many orders of magnitude weaker than the electric field. A paper published in Physical Review X by Nicholas R. Brewer, Zachary N. Buckholtz, Zachary J. Simmons, Eli A. Mueller, and Deniz D. Yavuz shows, for the first time, a strong interaction between the magnetic field of a laser beam and an ensemble of atoms.
The group passed laser light through a special crystal doped with europium atoms, which have a very complex electronic structure. The structure is such that, for a specific wavelength of light (527.5 nm), the electrons prefer to interact with the magnetic field of light instead of the electric field. For this to happen, it is essential that (i) the crystal is cooled to a temperature of 4 K, and (ii) the color of light is very precise (the wavelength should be accurate at the level of one part in ten billion). By measuring how much light is transmitted through the crystal as the laser intensity is varied, they were able to deduce the strength of the magnetic interaction.
The results demonstrate one way to create materials with unusual optical properties. Future work could also use interactions between electrons and the magnetic field of a laser to study quantum interference.
Jim Lawler Awarded 2017 LAD Laboratory Astrophysics Prize
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce that its 2017 Laboratory Astrophysics Prize, given to an individual who has made significant contributions to laboratory astrophysics over an extended period of time, goes to James E. (Jim) Lawler (University of Wisconsin, Madison) for his contributions in atomic physics to advance our understanding of galactic nucleosynthesis and chemical evolution. His spectroscopic work has opened a new era of stellar chemistry by advancing our ability to compare nucleosynthesis predictions with accurate relative elemental abundances.
The UW–Madison Department of Physics hosted a meeting of the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) this past weekend (Jan 13-15, 2017) at Chamberlin Hall, UW–Madison. This event was one of ten 2017 CUWiP conferences held simultaneously around the US and in Canada.
Over 140 undergraduate students from the Midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa), including students from many of the UW branch campuses, participated. The meeting included presentations from prominent women in physics, opportunities for networking, career advice and support, and a student poster session.
The CUWiP meetings are cosponsored nationally by the American Physical Society, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. The UW–Madison conference involved other collaborators and supporters, including the Department of Physics, WIPAC, the Graduate School, the College of Letters and Science, the Office of the Provost, and the Brittingham Family Foundation.
The lead organizers were Susan Coppersmith, Robert E. Fassnacht and Vilas Research Professor of Physics; Lisa Everett, Professor of Physics; Laura Fleming, Associate Instrumentation Specialist, Department of Physics; and Pupa Gilbert, Professor of Physics, Chemistry, and Geoscience. The local organizing team also included Dr. Silvia Bravo Gallart, Education and Outreach Specialist at WIPAC; Ms. Megan Madsen, Education and Outreach Coordinator at WIPAC; and Dr. Susan Nossal, Associate Scientist, Department of Physics and Director of the Physics Learning Center, as well as UW-Madison students and staff, including many graduate students in Physics, Medical Physics, Biophysics, Engineering, and Astronomy.
It was a fantastic event that inspired all in attendance.
Pupa Gilbert: Ocean temperatures faithfully recorded in mother-of-pearl
Friday, December 16, 2016
Writing online Thursday, Dec. 15, in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a team led by University of Wisconsin–Madison physics Professor Pupa Gilbert describes studies of the physical attributes of nacre in modern and fossil shells showing that the biomineral provides an accurate record of temperature as the material is formed, layer upon layer, in a mollusk.
Mark Eriksson grant lead on project to get UW getting electron beam lithography system for nanotech research
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Research projects statewide, from electronics to optics and medicine, are set to benefit from a new system coming to UW–Madison that will use electron beam lithography (EBL), a specialized technique for creating extremely fine patterns — in some cases more than 5,000 times narrower than the diameter of a human hair.
Email list for undergraduates interested in physics
Monday, October 3, 2016
The Physics Department occasionally sends announcements to undergraduate physics majors about opportunities for those with an interest in physics. Now, those who have not declared a physics major can subscribe to receive such announcements. Those who have declared a major will continue to receive announcements and do not need to self-subscribe.