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So far Lauren Mason has created 240 blog entries.

Atomic structure of a glass imaged at last

The positions of all the atoms in a sample of a metallic glass have been measured experimentally — fulfilling a decades-old dream for glass scientists, and raising the prospect of fresh insight into the structures of disordered solids. If the chemical element and 3D location of every atom in a material are known, then the material’s physical properties can, in principle at least, be predicted using the laws of physics. The atomic positions of crystals have long-range periodicity, which has enabled the development of powerful methods that combine diffraction experiments with the mathematics of symmetry to determine the precise atomic structure of these materials. Moreover, deviations from periodicity that create defects in crystals can be imaged with sub-ångström resolution. But these methods do not work for glasses, which lack long-range periodicity. Our knowledge of the atomic structure of glasses is therefore limited and acquired indirectly. Writing in Nature, Yang et al.1 report the experimental determination of the 3D positions of all the atoms in a nanometre-scale sample of a metallic glass.

Century-old problem solved with first-ever 3D atomic imaging of an amorphous solid

UCLA-led study captures the structure of metallic glass. Glass, rubber and plastics all belong to a class of matter called amorphous solids. And in spite of how common they are in our everyday lives, amorphous solids have long posed a challenge to scientists. Since the 1910s, scientists have been able to map in 3D the atomic structures of crystals, the other major class of solids, which has led to myriad advances in physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, geology, nanoscience, drug discovery and more. But because amorphous solids aren’t assembled in rigid, repetitive atomic structures like crystals are, they have defied researchers’ ability to determine their atomic structure with the same level of precision. Until now, that is. A UCLA-led study in the journal Nature reports on the first-ever determination of the 3D atomic structure of an amorphous solid — in this case, a material called metallic glass.

Do You Know the Way to Berkelium, Californium?

Heavy elements and a really powerful microscope help scientists map uncharted paths toward new materials and cancer therapies. Heavy elements known as the actinides are important materials for medicine, energy, and national defense. But even though the first actinides were discovered by scientists at Berkeley Lab more than 50 years ago, we still don’t know much about their chemical properties because only small amounts of these highly radioactive elements (or isotopes) are produced every year; they’re expensive; and their radioactivity makes them challenging to handle and store safely.

Congrats to Iona Binnie for Receiving an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.

Physics Education Research postdoc position at the University of Colorado

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher in Physics Education in the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU). The postdoc will work on a project titled “Development and Implementation of an assessment of student understanding of measurement and uncertainty in experimental physics.” This project aims to develop a scalable and validated assessment of students’ understanding of measurement uncertainty at the introductory level. Most of the research will be quantitative in nature and use item response theory.

The project is run jointly by Heather Lewandowski at the University of Colorado and Danny Caballero at the Michigan State University.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in physics, physics education research, or closely related field. Prior experience with experimental physics research or physics education research is preferred. Prior experience with assessment development is preferred, but not required.

To apply for the position please send the following materials to

  1. Cover letter that addresses the required and preferred qualifications described above, describes the applicant’s interest in joining the project, and answers the following questions:
    A) How do your previous experiences prepare you to work cooperatively and productively with colleagues and supervisors?
    B) In this postdoctoral research position, you will gain significant skills in physics education research. How do you envision those skills will be useful to you later in your career?
  2. CV with references listed.

The University of Colorado is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to building a diverse workforce. We encourage applications from women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans. Alternative formats of this ad can be provided upon request for individuals with disabilities by contacting the ADA Coordinator at

Postdoctoral Research Scholar Position Announcement

Norfolk State University’s Department of Engineering is seeking a candidate for a Postdoctoral Research Scholar position to conduct research in the area of biophotonics. The focus of this
research is on designing microfluidic devices to enable on-chip laser tweezers and traps and conducting surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for identifying breast cancer cells.
Successful candidate is expected to develop and demonstrate new approaches of system integration to improve accuracy, efficiency, scalability, and automation of the optofluidic sensing
platform and publish the findings in reputed journals and conference proceedings. The successful candidate will work in Computational Cardiac Engineering Lab at Norfolk State University in
Norfolk Virginia, and will be expected to collaborate across disciplines to ensure successful completion of research tasks.

Primary Responsibilities:
– Design a working SERS system for analyzing live biological cells. Conduct SERS-based experiments with various cell lines and analyze experimental data.
– Design and fabricate novel SERS substrates to amplify the Raman signals.
– Setup a dual-beam optical tweezer system for non-contact cell trapping and stretching.
– Perform Multiphysics modeling to configure the experimental setup and perform theoretical investigations.
– Develop, implement, and demonstrate new approaches to improve accuracy, efficiency, scalability, and automation of the optofluidic sensing system.
– Mentor graduate and undergraduate students; contribute in other ongoing research projects in the group.

– PhD in engineering or physical sciences in optics/photonics, biosensing, bioelectrics or related fields.
– Demonstrated expertise in Raman spectroscopy/SERS imaging, microfluidics and micro/nano-fabrication.
– Prior experience of micro/nano fabrication in cleanroom and handling of cleanroom equipment.
– Ability to quickly learn, analyze, and implement innovative biosensing applications/systems.
– Creativity and analytical skills.

New Buff Innovator Insights podcast to spotlight faculty innovators

The first episode of the inaugural season of Buff Innovator Insights, a new podcast from the Research & Innovation Office (RIO), will premiere on Thursday, March 18. The podcast will offer a behind-the-curtain look at some of the most ground-breaking innovations in the world—all emanating from the CU Boulder campus—along with the personal journeys that made those discoveries possible. Terri Fiez, Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, hosts this up-close and personal look at how researchers, scholars and artists become global pioneers, why they are so dedicated to discovery, and their visions of the future in the wide range of fields they explore.

Airing Thursday, March 18: Margaret Murnane–JILA; Physics; STROBE Science & Technology Center

In the first episode of Buff Innovator Insights, we meet Dr. Margaret Murnane, CU Boulder professor of physics and one of the world’s leading experts in ultrafast laser and x-ray science. Join us to learn about her improbable journey from growing up in the Irish countryside to developing the microscopes of the future and cultivating the world’s next generation of physicists.

NIST Postdoctoral Researcher Positions

The NIST RF Fields Group has multiple opportunities for postdoctoral researchers to develop experimental and theoretical methods for Rydberg atom sensors for a variety of applications. The Group is building a first-of-its-kind quantum-field antenna probe that uses Rydberg atoms excited by lasers produce an electromagnetic transparent probe to measure field strength with SI Traceability. The Rydberg atom-based probe acts as a compact receiver antenna that can lead to the development of a quantum based receiver that measures amplitude, phase and polarization of modulated electric fields over a frequency range from MHz to THz.   This is a fundamentally new approach to radio frequency metrology, one that promises to improve the sensitivity, precision, and ease of tests and calibrations of high-frequency field probes used for measuring radiated fields in next-generation 5G wireless systemsspectroscopy, and nanoelectronic systems, and environmental and other sensors.
Postdoctoral scholars will have opportunities to design, build, and troubleshoot laser systems and electronics of the types used in atomic physics experiments as well as working with RF electronic equipment and data analysis. Theoretical work includes developing atomic models for Rydberg atoms and other related physical simulations. A PhD in physics, engineering, or closely related field is required.  Experience in one or more of the following areas is desired: atomic or molecular spectroscopy, Rydberg atoms, atomic simulations, and/or optical and electronic noise analysis.
The NIST RF Fields Group is located within the NIST Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL). Recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce is essential to NIST CTL mission of enhancing innovation. Through a diversity of people, disciplines and ideas, we find the best solutions. The NIST Postdoctoral and Early-career Association of Researchers (PEAR) is a vibrant community advocating for professional development opportunities for postdocs, students, and other early-career researchers. NIST postdocs have access to a variety of networking and career development opportunities through PEAR.

Congrats to Mary Scott for Being a 2020 Women @ The Lab Honoree

The Berkeley Lab Women Scientists & Engineers Council has announced that Foundry Staff Mary Scott and Liana Klivansky are part of the 2020 cohort of Women @ The Lab 2020 honorees. Congratulations to the honorees for their meritorious professional contributions, leadership, mentorship, and outreach.

This celebration highlights Berkeley Lab women and their success stories – scientists, engineers, and operations staff who are working to change the world for the better. By promoting the achievements of these 15 brilliant women, we hope to continue to inspire a new generation of women to enter the STEM workforce, where their participation could lead to important breakthroughs.

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