Undergraduate seminars are weekly events during which an undergraduate gives a publicly accessible talk about their research, project, or just generally anything that they happen to be interested in. These seminars can only happen if we have willing volunteers to share their interests with the rest of the department. Any undergraduate student is eligible to give an undergraduate seminar, regardless of year.
An Introduction to Superconductivity (4 February 2019)
Superconductivity, a phenomena where a material can conduct electric current with zero resistance, has remained at the forefront of condensed matter physics research since its discovery in 1911. Along with a promise to revolutionize the electronics of tomorrow, superconductors host remarkably deep physics with surprising properties beyond that of a zero resistance state. I will give a quasi-historical overview of this phenomena and its underlying mechanisms, starting with its discovery and making my way through to current efforts in the field. My goal is to emphasize intuition over mathematics and give freshman and sophomore level students without prior exposure to quantum mechanics a glimpse into the fascinating world of condensed matter physics.
Dynamical Structure of the Quintuplet Cluster (26 November 2018)
Star clusters are very interesting objects in the galaxy—it is thought that a majority of stars form within star clusters. The Quintuplet cluster is a young massive star cluster near the Galactic Center. Using Hubble observations of the cluster over six years, we identify cluster members using proper motions. With a membership catalog in tow, we analyze the dynamical structure of the star cluster and look for a tidal truncation, mass segregation, and a tidal tail. (slides)
Phase Retrieval in Lensless Coherent Diffractive Imaging (5 November 2018)
Coherent diffractive imaging (CDI) is a powerful “lensless” microscopy technique that can be used to produce high-resolution images of non-crystalline structures by utilizing an iterative phase retrieval algorithm to reconstruct the image of an object from its diffraction pattern. CDI allows us to probe the topography of objects beyond the resolution limits of traditional optics and examine noncrystalline nanoscale structures such as proteins and superfluid droplets. We attempt to design and construct a tabletop CDI system for the purpose of imaging extreme ultraviolet (EUV) plasma droplets, a next-generation light source for semiconductor photolithography, in order to discern methods of optimizing plasma luminosity. (poster)
Axions: A New Promising Dark Matter Candidate (29 October 2018)
The Dark Matter Problem and the Strong CP problem are two of the largest issues that plague modern physics. The axion, a new beyond-the-standard-model particle, is introduced to address the strong CP problem while also acting as a potential dark matter candidate. In this talk, we discuss the theory behind axions, why they are a promising solution to the strong CP problem, and how they can constitute dark matter. We will also discuss ongoing experimental efforts to detect the axion.
Quantum Spin Liquids in the Kitaev Model: Real Examples of Exotic Magnetism (22 October 2018)
Magnetic materials have become a topic of great interest in condensed matter physics due to their rich and complex physics, as well as their applications in electronics and quantum computing. In this talk I will focus on quantum spin liquids, which are theorized to host fractionalized excitations and artificial gauge fields, and are thought to be critical for the realization of a fault-tolerant quantum computer. I will give an introduction to concepts in magnetism in materials, and show real experimental examples and describe how they have allowed the theory to develop in this field. (slides)
Fun with Fast Radio Bursts (15 October 2018)
Every so often, from random regions in space, our telescopes pick up an extremely powerful blip in their signal. Nobody knows what causes them, or where they will come from, and for this reason they have inspired a vibrant area of research. Please join us for a discussion on what makes Fast Radio Bursts so interesting, the type of research that is being done to understand them, and the various hypotheses that have been proposed to explain their creation.
Renormalization Group, Phase Transition, and Universality (8 October 2018)
The “renormalization group” (RG) is a framework to investigate the changes of a physical system (in particle physics, statistical physics condensed matter physics and cosmology…) as viewed at different energy and distance scales. It is used to address the question: what is the relationship between microscopic laws and macroscopic observations? After an introduction of the ideas and applications that suffice to justify its core position in theoretical and experimental physics, we will explore how RG is used to describe the critical phenomenon during the phase transition and understand the origin of the universality phenomenon--many different systems behave exactly the same at phase transitions. We will see a calculation that demonstrate 1D Ising model can’t have phase transition. In the end we will know why universality makes the adventure into high energy physics hard.
Random Matrix Theory (1 October 2018)
One of the greatest things about physical models is the large variety of phenomena that they can describe. Random Matrix Theory is a mathematical model created in an attempt to describe the energy levels of complex nuclei; but in recent times has found success describing a wide range of phenomena. After an introduction to the theory and its merits, we'll explore how it can describe a whole host of systems such as bus timetables in Mexico, quantum billiards, and point out possible future applications.
Neutrinos: Beyond the Standard Model! (24 September 2018)
Neutrinos are currently our best avenue through which to study physics beyond the standard model. Rahul will give a fascinating talk on how neutrinos can help us answer the long-standing question of why there is more matter in the universe than antimatter.