Prof. Francis Halzen awarded 2018 Bruno Pontecorvo Prize

On September 20, Prof. Francis Halzen was presented with the 2018 Bruno Pontecorvo Prize. This international award is presented annually by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research Scientific Council for achievements in elementary particle physics. Congrats!

Detailed PICture reveals how tooth enamel is strong enough to last a lifetime

In new research published Sept. 26 in the journal Nature Communications, Physics professor Pupa Gilbert and her collaborators, including MIT engineering Professor Markus Buehler and University of Pittsburgh oral biology Professor Elia Beniash, used advanced imaging techniques to see a clearer picture of the organization of individual enamel crystals in human teeth. They found that these crystals are not perfectly aligned, as had been previously thought, and that this misorientation likely deflects cracks, leading to enamel’s lifelong strength.

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Prof. Sau Lan Wu earns DOE award in Quantum Information Sciences

The US Department of Energy recently announced the funding of another set of quantum science-driven research proposals, including that of Sau Lan Wu, Enrico Fermi professor of physics and Vilas Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. With the funding, Wu and her collaborators seek to tap into the power of quantum computing to analyze the wealth of data generated by high energy physics experiments.

The title of Wu’s DOE approved project is: “Application of Quantum Machine Learning to High Energy Physics Analysis at LHC using IBM Quantum Computer Simulators and IBM Quantum Computer Hardware”.

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Maxim Vavilov, Tulika Bose elected 2019 APS Fellows

Professors Tulika Bose and Maxim Vavilov have been elected 2019 American Physical Society Fellows. The APS Fellowship Program recognizes members who have made exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise in physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the Society membership is recognized by their peers for election to the status of Fellow in the American Physical Society. This year, 168 Fellows were selected and recognized for their contributions to science. Congrats, Tulika and Maxim!

More on the APS Fellows

Megan Tabbutt and Aedan Gardill earn NDSEG fellowships

Congrats to second-year grad students Megan Tabbutt and Aedan Gardill, both in the Kolkowitz Group, on earning National Defense Science and Engineering graduate fellowships! The awards provide up to three years of funding for these students to pursue their research projects, which they describe below:


Megan Tabbutt

Optical atomic clocks are now the most precise time keepers in the world, keeping time to better than one second over the age of the universe. With support from the NDSEG, I will work with my collaborators to build a new “multiplexed” strontium optical lattice atomic clock, which will consist of  two clocks in one vacuum vessel. We will use this new kind of clock to perform tests of Einstein’s theory of relativity, such as measuring the relativistic effects of gravity on the passage of time at the millimeter scale, which may one day have applications ranging from the prediction of volcanic eruptions to water resource management and flood prevention. We will also engineer strong interactions between the atoms that make up the clock to generate entangled states for quantum enhanced clock performance, among other pursuits.


Aedan Gardill

Superconducting qubits are a promising system for quantum computing, but external sources of “noise” currently limit their usefulness. A better understanding of the sources of this noise in the qubits should help advance quantum computing efforts. With the NDSEG fellowship, my research will focus on using nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond as sensors with nanometer-scale resolution. We will develop and apply novel sensing techniques to study interesting solid state systems, such as investigating the origins of noise that currently limit superconducting qubit performance. 

Department welcomes congressional staffers

The Department of Physics was one of many departments on campus visited by senior staffers from Wisconsin’s US Senators’ and Representatives’ offices. They toured the Eriksson, Saffman and Kolkowitz labs, then visted the MST and Big Red Ball with Prof Forest. It was a great opportunity to show them how federal research dollars were being put to use to advance important work in the department. 

Daniel Freedman MS’62 Phd’64 wins special Breakthrough Prize

Alum Daniel Freedman, MS ’62 PhD ’64, recently won a Special Breakthrough Prize in fundamental physics. He shares the prize with Sergio Ferrara and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen. 

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Making biominerals: nature’s recipe is old, evolved more than once

In a report published today Aug. 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team led by Pupa Gilbert, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of physics, shows that the recipe for making shells, spines, and coral skeletons is not only the same across many modern animal lineages, but is ancient – dating back 550 million years – and evolved independently more than once.


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