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Native American Heritage Month at UCI: Franklin Dollar

Native American Heritage Month at Physical Sciences: This month, you’ll be hearing about Native Americans at the School of Physical Sciences, and how they make the School what it is.

I’m Franklin Dollar, a member of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCI. I study ultrafast laser matter interactions, and how we can convert laser energy into beams of particles and X-rays for next-generation microscopes. I also try to understand how physics education can be improved, from mentorship, to curriculum, to environment.

PS: What advice do you have for Native American students who are considering a career in STEM?

The most important thing you learn with a degree like physics is how to solve problems in the real world. This is useful in nearly any career, and can provide the flexibility to try out different career paths. So though you may not know what you want to do today, as you work and learn you will be able to find your own path.

 

What to Know if You’re Teaching Physics Labs Remotely

The coronavirus pandemic upended schools in the spring of 2020, sending students and faculty home. This rapidly changed how instructors handled laboratory physics courses. With a NSF RAPID grant, JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski asked instructors what worked—and what didn’t—as they moved their lab courses online.

New electron microscope at CU Boulder enables groundbreaking research across disciplines—and from a distance

Capable of achieving spatial resolutions of 70 pm—smaller than the size of an atom—the Thermo Scientific Titan Themis S/TEM, located in the newly-launched CU Facility for Electron Microscopy of Materials (CU FEMM), is now the highest-resolution electron microscope in Colorado.

Taller than a person and equipped with multiple cameras and detectors, this state-of-the-art, aberration-corrected electron microscopy platform makes groundbreaking research possible in a wide range of fields, including catalysis, advanced imaging, quantum information, energy conversion, biomaterials, battery research, geology, materials development and even archaeology. A team from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is even exploring a potential COVID-19 study using the microscope to inspect the salt from dried saliva droplets.

Congrats to Jose Rodriguez for Being Recognized as One of the Most Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists in the United States by Cell Press

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re showcasing 100 of the most inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists working in the United States. This list—selected based on scholarly achievements, mentoring excellence, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—represents only a subset of the scientific role models in the community. Our aim in assembling these names is to put an end to the harmful myth that there are not enough diverse scientists to give seminars, serve as panelists, or fill scientific positions. We highlight scientists encompassing careers within academia, government, and biotech and showcase individuals committed to serving diverse student populations at Hispanic-serving institutions. Although we understand this list is not fully representative of the Hispanic/Latinx scientific community, we hope it will help to change the perception of what a scientist looks like and makes our collective image more representative of society at large.

UCLA scientists create world’s smallest ‘refrigerator’

How do you keep the world’s tiniest soda cold? UCLA scientists may have the answer.

A team led by UCLA physics professor Chris Regan has succeeded in creating thermoelectric coolers that are only 100 nanometers thick — roughly one ten-millionth of a meter — and have developed an innovative new technique for measuring their cooling performance.

“We have made the world’s smallest refrigerator,” said Regan, the lead author of a paper on the research published recently in the journal ACS Nano.

To be clear, these miniscule devices aren’t refrigerators in the everyday sense — there are no doors or crisper drawers. But at larger scales, the same technology is used to cool computers and other electronic devices, to regulate temperature in fiber-optic networks, and to reduce image “noise” in high-end telescopes and digital cameras.

Diffractive Imaging in a Flash

Ultrashort light pulses on the time scale of attoseconds provide a window into some of the fastest electronic effects occurring in solid-state systems. Obtaining structural information through coherent diffractive imaging is usually done with monochromatic x-ray sources. However, ultrashort pulses are inherently broadband, and getting transient structural information on such short time scales is challenging. Rana et al. describe a method that works with the broadband nature of ultrashort pulses. They split the pulses into 17 different wavelengths and then used an algorithm to computationally stitch together the diffraction patterns from each wavelength to reveal the structural image optimized across all wavelengths. Demonstrating the technique at optical wavelengths illustrates the feasibility of applying the method to ultrafast x-ray pulses.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 086101 (2020).

Ultrafast Imaging at All Frequencies

A new algorithm could allow researchers to capture attosecond, multiwavelength images of an object. Illuminating a sample with attosecond x-ray pulses could let researchers image phenomena as fleeting as the rearrangement of electrons during chemical reactions. The uncertainty principle dictates that ultrashort pulses have a broad energy spectrum. However, because focusing different wavelengths typically requires multiple sets of optics, most attempts at attosecond imaging are spectroscopic, ignoring all but one radiation frequency. Now, Jianwei Miao at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues have developed an innovative algorithm that can simultaneously reconstruct multiple images of an object at different wavelengths using attosecond pulses. The method offers a way to take spectroscopic images without the need for sophisticated instruments.

Ultraviolet Laser Probes Nano-Film Stiffness

Extremely thin films of dielectrics and other materials play vital roles in many types of advanced microelectronics, but their tiny dimensions and atomic make-up can impair mechanical performance.

Now, researchers at the NSF STROBE Science and Technology Center in the U.S. have shown they can characterize the mechanical properties of silicon-carbide films as thin as 5 nm using tabletop sources of extreme ultraviolet laser light—showing them to be far softer than thicker films of the same material (Phys. Rev. Mater., doi: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.4.073603).

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