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  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Princeton, Wave of the future: Terahertz chips a new way of seeing through matter   

    From Princeton: “Wave of the future: Terahertz chips a new way of seeing through matter” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    February 8, 2017
    Tien Nguyen

    1
    Princeton University researchers have drastically shrunk the equipment for producing terahertz — important electromagnetic pulses lasting one millionth of a millionth of a second — from a tabletop setup with lasers and mirrors to a pair of microchips small enough to fit on a fingertip (above). The simpler, cheaper generation of terahertz has potential for advances in medical imaging, communications and drug development. (Photos by Frank Wojciechowski for the Office of Engineering Communications)

    Electromagnetic pulses lasting one millionth of a millionth of a second may hold the key to advances in medical imaging, communications and drug development. But the pulses, called terahertz waves, have long required elaborate and expensive equipment to use.

    Now, researchers at Princeton University have drastically shrunk much of that equipment: moving from a tabletop setup with lasers and mirrors to a pair of microchips small enough to fit on a fingertip.

    In two articles recently published in the IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits, the researchers describe one microchip that can generate terahertz waves, and a second chip that can capture and read intricate details of these waves.

    “The system is realized in the same silicon chip technology that powers all modern electronic devices from smartphones to tablets, and therefore costs only a few dollars to make on a large scale” said lead researcher Kaushik Sengupta, a Princeton assistant professor of electrical engineering.

    Terahertz waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum — the broad class of waves that includes radio, X-rays and visible light — and sit between the microwave and infrared light wavebands. The waves have some unique characteristics that make them interesting to science. For one, they pass through most non-conducting material, so they could be used to peer through clothing or boxes for security purposes, and because they have less energy than X-rays, they don’t damage human tissue or DNA.

    Terahertz waves also interact in distinct ways with different chemicals, so they can be used to characterize specific substances. Known as spectroscopy, the ability to use light waves to analyze material is one of the most promising — and the most challenging — applications of terahertz technology, Sengupta said.

    To do it, scientists shine a broad range of terahertz waves on a target then observe how the waves change after interacting with it. The human eye performs a similar type of spectroscopy with visible light — we see a leaf as green because light in the green light frequency bounces off the chlorophyll-laden leaf.

    The challenge has been that generating a broad range of terahertz waves and interpreting their interaction with a target requires a complex array of equipment such as bulky terahertz generators or ultrafast lasers. The equipment’s size and expense make the technology impractical for most applications.

    Researchers have been working for years to simplify these systems. In September, Sengupta’s team reported a way to reduce the size of the terahertz generator and the apparatus that interprets the returning waves to a millimeter-sized chip. The solution lies in re-imaging how an antenna functions. When terahertz waves interact with a metal structure inside the chip, they create a complex distribution of electromagnetic fields that are unique to the incident signal. Typically, these subtle fields are ignored, but the researchers realized that they could read the patterns as a sort of signature to identify the waves. The entire process can be accomplished with tiny devices inside the microchip that read terahertz waves.

    “Instead of directly reading the waves, we are interpreting the patterns created by the waves,” Sengupta said. “It is somewhat like looking for a pattern of raindrops by the ripples they make in a pond.”

    2
    In two recently published articles, researchers Kaushik Sengupta (left), an assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Xue Wu (right), a Princeton graduate student in computer science, describe one microchip that can generate terahertz waves, and a second chip that can capture and read intricate details of these waves. Terahertz waves sit between the microwave and infrared light wavebands on the electromagnetic spectrum and have unique characteristics, such as the ability to pass through most non-conducting material such as clothing or boxes without damaging human tissue or DNA.

    Daniel Mittleman, a professor of engineering at Brown University, said the development was “a very innovative piece of work, and it potentially has a lot of impact.” Mittleman, who is the vice chair of the International Society for Infrared Millimeter and Terahertz Waves, said scientists still have work to do before the terahertz band can begin to be used in everyday devices, but the developments are promising.

    “It is a very big puzzle with many pieces, and this is just one, but it is a very important one,” said Mittleman, who is familiar with the work but had no role in it.

    On the terahertz-generation end, much of the challenge is creating a wide range of wavelengths within the terahertz band, particularly in a microchip. The researchers realized they could overcome the problem by generating multiple wavelengths on the chip. They then used precise timing to combine these wavelengths and create very sharp terahertz pulses.

    In an article published Dec. 14 in the IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits, the researchers explained how they created a chip to generate the terahertz waves. The next step, the researchers said, is to extend the work farther along the terahertz band. “Right now we are working with the lower part of the terahertz band,” said Xue Wu, a Princeton doctoral student in electrical engineering and an author on both papers.

    “What can you do with a billion transistors operating at terahertz frequencies?” Sengupta asked. “Only by re-imagining these complex electromagnetic interactions from fundamental principles can we invent game-changing new technology.”

    The paper On-chip THz spectroscope exploiting electromagnetic scattering with multi-port antenna was published Sept. 2, and the paper Dynamic waveform shaping with picosecond time widths was published Dec. 14, both by IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits. The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (grant nos. ECCS-1408490 and ECCS-1509560).

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 12:39 pm on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Princeton, Symmetry in patterns, symmorphic and nonsymmorphic patterns of atoms, Theorists propose new class of topological metals with exotic electronic properties, tungsten telluride (WTe2)   

    From Princeton: “Theorists propose new class of topological metals with exotic electronic properties (Physics Review X)” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    January 30, 2017
    Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry

    1
    A new theory explains the behavior of a class of metals with exotic electronic properties. Credit: Muechler et al., Physics Review X

    Researchers at Princeton, Yale, and the University of Zurich have proposed a theory-based approach to characterize a class of metals that possess exotic electronic properties that could help scientists find other, similarly-endowed materials.

    Published in the journal Physical Review X, the study described a new class of metals based on their symmetry and a mathematical classification known as a topological number, which is predictive of special electronic properties. Topological materials have drawn intense research interest since the early 2000s culminating in last year’s Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to three physicists, including F. Duncan Haldane, Princeton’s Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics, for theoretical discoveries in this area.

    “Topological classification is a very general way of looking at the properties of materials,” said Lukas Muechler, a Princeton graduate student in the laboratory of Roberto Car, Princeton’s Ralph W. *31 Dornte Professor in Chemistry and lead author on the article.

    A popular way of explaining this abstract mathematical classification involves breakfast items. In topological classification, donuts and coffee cups are equivalent because they both have one hole and can be smoothly deformed into one another. Meanwhile donuts cannot deform into muffins which makes them inequivalent. The number of holes is an example of a topological invariant that is equal for the donut and coffee cup, but distinguishes between the donut and the muffin.

    “The idea is that you don’t really care about the details. As long as two materials have the same topological invariants, we can say they are topologically equivalent,” he said.

    Muechler and his colleagues’ interest in the topological classification of this new class of metals was sparked by a peculiar discovery in the neighboring laboratory of Robert Cava, Princeton’s Russell Wellman Moore Professor of Chemistry. While searching for superconductivity in a crystal called tungsten telluride (WTe2), the Cava lab instead found that the material could continually increase its resistance in response to ever stronger magnetic fields – a property that might be used to build a sensor of magnetic fields.

    The origin of this property was, however, mysterious. “This material has very interesting properties, but there had been no theory around it,” Muechler said.

    The researchers first considered the arrangement of the atoms in the WTe2 crystal. Patterns in the arrangement of atoms are known as symmetries, and they fall into two fundamentally different classes – symmorphic and nonsymmorphic – which lead to profound differences in electronic properties, such as the transport of current in an electromagnetic field.

    2
    a) Symmorphic symmetry b) Nonsymmorphic symmetry Credit: Lukas Muechler

    While WTe2 is composed of many layers of atoms stacked upon each other, Car’s team found that a single layer of atoms has a particular nonsymmorphic symmetry, where the atomic arrangement is unchanged overall if it is first rotated and then translated by a fraction of the lattice period (see figure).

    Having established the symmetry, the researchers mathematically characterized all possible electronic states having this symmetry, and classified those states that can be smoothly deformed into each other as topologically equivalent, just as a donut can be deformed into a cup. From this classification, they found WTe2 belongs to a new class of metals which they coined nonsymmorphic topological metals. These metals are characterized by a different electron number than the nonsymmorphic metals that have previously been studied.

    In nonsymmorphic topological metals, the current-carrying electrons behave like relativistic particles, in other words, as particles traveling at nearly the speed of light. This property is not as susceptible to impurities and defects as ordinary metals, making them attractive candidates for electronic devices.

    The abstract topological classification also led the researchers to suggest some explanations for some of the outstanding electronic properties of bulk WTe2, most importantly its perfect compensation, meaning that it has an equal number of holes and electrons. Through theoretical simulations, the researchers found that this property could be achieved in the three-dimensional crystalline stacking of the WTe2 monolayers, which was a surprising result, Muechler said.

    “Usually in theory research there isn’t much that’s unexpected, but this just popped out,” he said. “This abstract classification directly led us to explaining this property. In this sense, it’s a very elegant way of looking at this compound and now you can actually understand or design new compounds with similar properties.”

    Recent photoemission experiments have also shown that the electrons in WTe2 absorb right-handed photons differently than they would left-handed photons. The theory formulated by the researchers showed that these photoemission experiments on WTe2 can be understood based on the topological properties of this new class of metals.

    In future studies, the theorists want to test whether these topological properties are also present in atomically-thin layers of these metals, which could be exfoliated from a larger crystal to make electronic devices. “The study of this phenomena has big implications for the electronics industry, but it’s still in its infant years,” Muechler said.

    This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DE-FG02-05ER46201), the Yale Postdoctoral Prize Fellowship, the National Science Foundation (NSF CAREER DMR-095242 and NSF-MRSEC DMR-0819860), the Office of Naval Research (ONR-N00014-11-1- 0635), the U.S. Department of Defense (MURI-130-6082), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation, and the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund.

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 5:21 pm on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Princeton, ,   

    From Princeton: Women in STEM – “Conference gives undergraduate women skills, inspiration to pursue physics careers” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    January 23, 2017
    Jeanne Jackson DeVoe, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Meg Urry was the first tenured physics professor at Yale University and was often the only woman in her physics classes, including her graduate class at MIT, but she still heard a fellow student complain that women were unfairly given advantages over their male colleagues. “That’s when I realized there was something fishy going on,” she said.

    Urry spoke at the 2017 APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at Princeton University the weekend of Jan. 13-15. She told students that she is still often the only woman in the room even though her department now has six out of 52 female faculty members — the highest number of the top 50 physics departments in the United States. “That’s crazy, right?” Urry said. “If we were offered the same opportunities and had the same treatment, women would be half the faculty in every subject.”

    Urry, a professor of astrophysics at Yale whose research focuses on active galaxies that host supermassive black holes in their centers, was one of the plenary speakers at the conference, which focused on giving young women the tools to stay in physics and other STEM fields. More than 200 women attended the event.

    1
    A career panel was one of the many events at the 2017 APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics held at Princeton Jan. 13-15. It was one of 10 regional conferences held simultaneoulsy across the country.(Photos by Elle Starkman, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory)

    Addressing unconscious bias

    Urry noted that the percentage of women in the United States graduating from college with physics degrees has remained flat at 20 percent for the past decade. Women in physics and other fields are affected by unconscious bias, Urry said. She cited one study that found participants who were given the resumes of equally qualified men and women were more likely to pick resumes with men’s names.

    The Princeton CUWiP Conference was one of nine conferences nationwide and one in Canada that took place simultaneously. Other host institutions included Harvard University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the University of California-Davis. The Princeton conference was offered free aside from a $45 registration fee and travel expenses. It was funded by the the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and the National Science Foundation through grants to the American Physical Society.

    Shannon Swilley Greco, a Science Education program leader at the DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), organized the conference with Lyman Page, chair of the University’s physics department, and graduate student Laura Chang. Greco told the young physicists that she hopes the conference will inspire them to stay in a physics or STEM field. “I don’t ever want anyone to leave the field they loved because they felt ill-prepared,” she said, “or because they just had so much doubt that they were afraid they weren’t where they were supposed to be, or that they were made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.”

    The conference kicked off with a tour of University research laboratories, including the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Department of Geosciences and PPPL. More than 60 people attended the PPPL tour, which visited the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade test cell and control room. “I love it!” said Bernadette Haig, a student at Fordham University. “This is new stuff for me, so it’s really cool!”

    3
    Josee Vedrine-Pauléus, a professor in the Department of Physics and Electronics at the University of Puerto Rico-Humacao campus, gives a workshop on negotiation.

    ‘Don’t get discouraged’

    A career panel made up of women at Google, Solvay, and Princeton and Rowan universities, advised the attendees to be persistent. “The golden rule is don’t get discouraged,” said Katerina Visnjic, a senior lecturer in the Princeton physics department, who is redesigning the introductory physics curriculum. “When you see scientific results presented, that is the last 1 percent of the work that went into that. It doesn’t reflect the 99 percent that didn’t work.”

    The conference offered a variety of workshops, including “mental health,” “out in STEM,” and “negotiation and other professional skills.” In the workshop on “combatting imposter syndrome and bias and developing a growth mindset,” David Yaeger, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas-Austin, said: “Intelligence itself is malleable especially in your developing stage. Every time you do a hard mathematical proof, your brain actually changes.”

    One workshop focused on how to be an ally to under-represented groups. “If you have privilege, use that privilege,” said Geraldine Cochran, dean of the Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in STEM.

    Rutgers smaller
    Always need to state my allegiance, especially the opportunity to display our beautiful original seal that the University stole from us.

    “If you are only looking at job candidates who have graduate degrees from Harvard and Princeton, why not look at people who did really well but have not gone to undergraduate institutions like that?”

    5
    Undergraduates present their research at a poster session at Frick Chemistry Laboratory.

    Developing a work-life plan

    Students attending a workshop on work-life balance were encouraged to think about developing a plan that builds in time for outside activities and having fun. “How are you going to find ways to motivate yourself that help you feel fulfilled?” asked Amada Sandoval, director of the Princeton’s Women’s Center. “And what is a full life apart from what you imagined a successful life is?”

    Nergis Mavalvala, a physics professor known for her work in the confirmation of gravitational waves at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, broadcast her keynote speech from Harvard, with all 10 conferences broadcasting video greetings from their audiences.

    Fatima Ebrahimi, a PPPL physicist, discussed her research studying a phenomenon in magnetic reconnection that could be used to start fusion devices called tokamaks and might also yield insights into magnetic reconnection, the process that triggers solar flames, the Northern Lights and other astrophysical phenomena. “If you know plasma physics, there’s no boundary,” Ebrahimi said. “You can do detailed analysis in the lab but then you can move on and answer fundamental questions in astrophysics.”

    Several students presented their research in a poster session at the end of the day on Jan. 14. On Jan. 15, Katja Nowack, an experimental condensed matter physicist at Cornell University, discussed her research. The conference concluded with a career and research expo at the Frick Chemistry Laboratory Building.

    CUWiP Plus at PPPL

    A small group of about 20 students attended a CUWiP Plus session at PPPL, where they spent Sunday afternoon and Monday morning learning about plasma physics led by physicist Arturo Dominguez, a Science Education program leader. A second group learned about astrophysics through a giant radio antenna and a trip on Sunday to the Princeton University Imaging and Analysis Center.

    Participants in the conference said they enjoyed meeting other female physicists. “I wanted to come to the conference because there are only eight women in my year in physics,” said Katherine Guido, a student at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. “I thought it would be really cool to talk to other women physicists.”

    “I think it’s amazing,” said Jessica Irving, an associate professor in geosciences at Princeton. “I’ve never been to a meeting like this before — a meeting full of women who are excited about science.”

    PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

    See the full article here .

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    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 4:23 pm on January 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Electron-photon small-talk could have big impact on quantum computing, Princeton, ,   

    From Princeton: “Electron-photon small-talk could have big impact on quantum computing” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    December 22, 2016
    Catherine Zandonella

    In a step that brings silicon-based quantum computers closer to reality, researchers at Princeton University have built a device in which a single electron can pass its quantum information to a particle of light. The particle of light, or photon, can then act as a messenger to carry the information to other electrons, creating connections that form the circuits of a quantum computer.

    The research, published today in the journal Science and conducted at Princeton and HRL Laboratories in Malibu, California, represents a more than five-year effort to build a robust capability for an electron to talk to a photon, said Jason Petta, a Princeton professor of physics.

    1
    Princeton Professor of Physics Jason Petta, from left, and physics graduate students David Zajac and Xiao Mi, have built a device that is a step forward for silicon-based quantum computers, which when built will be able to solve problems beyond the capabilities of everyday computers. The device isolates an electron so that can pass its quantum information to a photon, which can then act as a messenger to carry the information to other electrons to form the circuits of the computer. (Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications)

    “Just like in human interactions, to have good communication a number of things need to work out — it helps to speak the same language and so forth,” Petta said. “We are able to bring the energy of the electronic state into resonance with the light particle, so that the two can talk to each other.”

    The discovery will help the researchers use light to link individual electrons, which act as the bits, or smallest units of data, in a quantum computer. Quantum computers are advanced devices that, when realized, will be able to perform advanced calculations using tiny particles such as electrons, which follow quantum rules rather than the physical laws of the everyday world.

    Each bit in an everyday computer can have a value of a 0 or a 1. Quantum bits — known as qubits — can be in a state of 0, 1, or both a 0 and a 1 simultaneously. This superposition, as it is known, enables quantum computers to tackle complex questions that today’s computers cannot solve.

    Simple quantum computers have already been made using trapped ions and superconductors, but technical challenges have slowed the development of silicon-based quantum devices. Silicon is a highly attractive material because it is inexpensive and is already widely used in today’s smartphones and computers.

    2
    The qubit consists of a single electron that is trapped below the surface of a silicon chip (gray). The green, pink and purple wires on top of the silicon structure deliver precise voltages to the qubit. The purple plate reduces electronic interference that can destroy the qubit’s quantum information. By adjusting the voltages in the wires, the researchers can trap a single electron in a double quantum dot and adjust its energy so that it can communicate its quantum information to a nearby photon. (Photo courtesy of the Jason Petta research group, Department of Physics)

    The researchers trapped both an electron and a photon in the device, then adjusted the energy of the electron in such a way that the quantum information could transfer to the photon. This coupling enables the photon to carry the information from one qubit to another located up to a centimeter away.

    Quantum information is extremely fragile — it can be lost entirely due to the slightest disturbance from the environment. Photons are more robust against disruption and can potentially carry quantum information not just from qubit to qubit in a quantum computer circuit but also between quantum chips via cables.

    For these two very different types of particles to talk to each other, however, researchers had to build a device that provided the right environment. First, Peter Deelman at HRL Laboratories, a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by the Boeing Company and General Motors, fabricated the semiconductor chip from layers of silicon and silicon-germanium. This structure trapped a single layer of electrons below the surface of the chip. Next, researchers at Princeton laid tiny wires, each just a fraction of the width of a human hair, across the top of the device. These nanometer-sized wires allowed the researchers to deliver voltages that created an energy landscape capable of trapping a single electron, confining it in a region of the silicon called a double quantum dot.

    The researchers used those same wires to adjust the energy level of the trapped electron to match that of the photon, which is trapped in a superconducting cavity that is fabricated on top of the silicon wafer.

    Prior to this discovery, semiconductor qubits could only be coupled to neighboring qubits. By using light to couple qubits, it may be feasible to pass information between qubits at opposite ends of a chip.

    The electron’s quantum information consists of nothing more than the location of the electron in one of two energy pockets in the double quantum dot. The electron can occupy one or the other pocket, or both simultaneously. By controlling the voltages applied to the device, the researchers can control which pocket the electron occupies.

    “We now have the ability to actually transmit the quantum state to a photon confined in the cavity,” said Xiao Mi, a graduate student in Princeton’s Department of Physics and first author on the paper. “This has never been done before in a semiconductor device because the quantum state was lost before it could transfer its information.”

    4
    A fully packaged device for trapping and manipulating single electrons and photons. A series of on-chip electrodes (lower left and upper right) lead to the formation of a double quantum dot that confines a single electron below the surface of the chip. The photon, which is free to move within the full 7-millimeter span of the cavity, exchanges quantum information with the electron inside the double quantum dot. (Photo courtesy of the Jason Petta research group, Department of Physics)

    The success of the device is due to a new circuit design that brings the wires closer to the qubit and reduces interference from other sources of electromagnetic radiation. To reduce this noise, the researchers put in filters that remove extraneous signals from the wires that lead to the device. The metal wires also shield the qubit. As a result, the qubits are 100 to 1,000 times less noisy than the ones used in previous experiments.

    Jeffrey Cady, a 2015 graduate, helped develop the filters to reduce the noise as part of his undergraduate senior thesis, and graduate student David Zajac led the effort to use overlapping electrodes to confine single electrons in silicon quantum dots.

    Eventually the researchers plan to extend the device to work with an intrinsic property of the electron known as its spin. “In the long run we want systems where spin and charge are coupled together to make a spin qubit that can be electrically controlled,” Petta said. “We’ve shown we can coherently couple an electron to light, and that is an important step toward coupling spin to light.”

    David DiVincenzo, a physicist at the Institute for Quantum Information in RWTH Aachen University in Germany, who was not involved in the research, is the author of an influential 1996 paper outlining five minimal requirements necessary for creating a quantum computer. Of the Princeton-HRL work, in which he was not involved, DiVincenzo said: “It has been a long struggle to find the right combination of conditions that would achieve the strong coupling condition for a single-electron qubit. I am happy to see that a region of parameter space has been found where the system can go for the first time into strong-coupling territory.”

    Funding for this research was provided by Army Research Office grant No. W911NF-15-1-0149, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s EPiQS Initiative through grant GBMF4535, and the National Science Foundation (DMR-1409556 and DMR-1420541). The material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Defense under contract H98230-15-C0453.

    The paper, Strong Coupling of a Single Electron in Silicon to a Microwave Photon by X. Mi, J. V. Cady, D. M. Zajac, P. W. Deelman, J. R. Petta, was published in the journal Science online on Thursday, Dec. 22.

    See the full article here .

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    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 11:18 am on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A better way to simulate accretion of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is developed by PPPL and Princeton scientists, , Kinetic approach, Pegasus computer code, , Princeton   

    From PPPL: “A better way to simulate accretion of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is developed by PPPL and Princeton scientists” 


    PPPL

    December 22, 2016
    John Greenwald

    1
    Image and inset of region surrounding Sagittarius A*. (Image: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al. Inset: NASA/STScI)

    Scientists at Princeton University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a rigorous new method for modeling the accretion disk that feeds the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

    Sag A*  NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
    Sag A* NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

    The paper, published online in December in the journal Physical Review Letters, provides a much-needed foundation for simulation of the extraordinary processes involved.

    Accretion disks are clouds of plasma that orbit and gradually swirl into massive bodies such as black holes — intense gravitational fields produced by stars that collapse to a tiny fraction of their original size. These collapsed stars are bounded by an “event horizon,” from which not even light can escape. As accretion disks flow toward event horizons, they power some of the brightest and most energetic sources of electromagnetic radiation in the universe.

    Four million times the mass of the sun

    The colossal black hole at the center of the Milky Way — called “Sagittarius A*” because it is found in the constellation Sagittarius — has a gravitational mass that is four million times greater than our own sun. Yet the accretion disk plasma that spirals into this mass is “radiatively inefficient,” meaning that it emits much less radiation than one would expect.

    “So the question is, why is this disk so quiescent?” asks Matthew Kunz, lead author of the paper, assistant professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University and a physicist at PPPL. Co-authors include James Stone, Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences, and Eliot Quataert, director of theoretical astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley.

    To develop a method for finding the answer, the researchers considered the nature of the superhot Sagittarius A* accretion disk. Its plasma is so hot and dilute that it is collisionless, meaning that the trajectories of protons and electrons inside the plasma rarely intersect.

    This lack of collisionality distinguishes the Sagittarius A* accretion disk from brighter and more radiative disks that orbit other black holes. The brighter disks are collisional and can be modeled by formulas dating from the 1990s, which treat the plasma as an electrically conducting fluid. But “such models are inappropriate for accretion onto our supermassive black hole,” Kunz said, since they cannot describe the process that causes the collisionless Sagittarius A* disk to grow unstable and spiral down.

    Tracing collisionless particles

    To model the process for the Sagittarius A* disk, the paper replaces the formulas that treat the motion of collisional plasmas as a macroscopic fluid. Instead, the authors use a method that physicists call “kinetic” to systematically trace the paths of individual collisionless particles. This complex approach, conducted using the Pegasus computer code developed at Princeton by Kunz, Stone and Xuening Bai, now a lecturer at Harvard University, produced a set of equations better able to model behavior of the disk that orbits the supermassive black hole.

    This kinetic approach could help astrophysicists understand what causes the accretion disk region around the Sagittarius A* hole to radiate so little light. Results could also improve understanding of other key issues, such as how magnetized plasmas behave in extreme environments and how magnetic fields can be amplified.

    The goal of the new method, said Kunz, “will be to produce more predictive models of the emission from black-hole accretion at the galactic center for comparison with astrophysical observations.” Such observations come from instruments such as the Chandra X-ray observatory, an Earth-orbiting satellite that NASA launched in 1999, and the upcoming Event Horizon Telescope, an array of nine Earth-based radio telescopes located in countries around the world.

    NASA/Chandra Telescope
    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

    Event Horizon Telescope map

    The locations of the radio dishes that will be part of the Event Horizon Telescope array. Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope sites, via University of Arizona at https://www.as.arizona.edu/event-horizon-telescope.

    Arizona Radio Observatory
    Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

    ESO/APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX)

    CARMA Array no longer in service
    Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

    IRAM NOEMA interferometer
    Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

    Future Array/Telescopes

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

    Research for this paper was funded by the National Science Foundation and grants from the Lyman Spitzer, Jr. Fellowship; a Simons Investigator Award from the Simons Foundation; and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University. PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:04 pm on December 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Princeton   

    From Princeton: “Bright future: Princeton researchers unlock the potential of light to perform previously impossible feats” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    November 11, 2016 [Just found this in social media.]
    Bennett McIntosh

    1
    No image caption. No image credit.

    One hundred years ago, Italian chemist Giacomo Ciamician predicted a future society that would run on sunlight.

    In a paper presented in 1912 to an international meeting of chemists in New York City, he foresaw a future of vibrant desert communities under “a forest of glass tubes and greenhouses of all sizes” where light-driven chemical reactions would produce not just energy but also wondrous medicines and materials.

    Ciamician’s vision has not yet arrived, but a handful of Princeton researchers have succeeded with one part of his legacy: they are harnessing light to perform previously impossible feats of chemistry. In Princeton’s Frick Chemistry Laboratory, blue LED lamps cast light on flask after flask of gently stirring chemicals that are reacting in ways they never have before to create tomorrow’s medicines, solvents, dyes and other industrial chemicals.

    The leader in this emerging field is David MacMillan, who arrived in Princeton’s chemistry department in 2006. He was intrigued by the potential for using light to coax new chemical reactions. Like most chemists, he’d spent years learning the rules that govern the interactions of elements such as carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, and then using those rules to fashion new molecules. Could light help change these rules and catalyze reactions that have resisted previous attempts at manipulation?

    Changing the rules

    The idea for using light as a catalyst had been explored since Ciamician’s time with limited success. Light can excite a molecule to kick loose one or more of its electrons, creating free radicals that are extremely reactive and readily form new bonds with one another. However, most chemists did not think this process could be controlled precisely enough to make a wide variety of precision molecules.

    But that changed in the summer of 2007.

    MacMillan and postdoctoral researcher David Nicewicz were working on a tough problem. The two scientists wanted to create chemical bonds between one group of atoms, called bromocarbonyls, and another group, known as aldehydes. “It was one of those longstanding challenges in the field,” MacMillan said. “It was one of those reactions that was really useful for making new medicines, but nobody knew how to do it.”

    Nicewicz had found a recipe that worked, but it involved using ultraviolet (UV) light. This high-energy form of light causes sunburn by damaging the molecules in the skin, and it also damaged the molecules in the reaction mixture, making the recipe Nicewicz had discovered less useful. MacMillan, who is Princeton’s James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, asked Nicewicz to investigate how to do the transformation without UV light.

    Nicewicz recalled some experiments that he’d seen as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Researchers led by chemistry professor Malcom Forbes had split water into oxygen and hydrogen fuel using visible light and a special molecule, a catalyst containing a metal called ruthenium. The approach was known as “photoredox catalysis” because particles of light, or photons, propel the exchange of electrons in a process called oxidation-reduction, or “redox” for short.

    2
    David MacMillan is a leader in developing the use of light to catalyze chemical reactions — a technique called photoredox catalysis. (Photo by Sameer A. Khan/Fotobuddy)

    Visible light is lower in energy than ultraviolet light, so Nicewicz and MacMillan reasoned that the approach might work without damaging the molecules. Indeed, when the researchers added a ruthenium catalyst to the reaction mixture and placed the flask under an ordinary household fluorescent lightbulb, the two scientists were astounded to see the reaction work almost perfectly the first time. “More times than not, the reaction you draw on the board never works,” Nicewicz said. Instead, the reaction produced astonishing amounts of linked molecules with high purity. “I knew right away it was a fantastic result,” he said.

    With support from the National Institutes of Health, MacMillan and Nicewicz spent the next year showing that the reaction was useful for many different types of bromocarbonyls and aldehydes, results that the team published in Science in October 2008. Research in the lab quickly expanded beyond this single reaction, and each new reaction hinted at a powerful shift in the rules of organic chemistry. “It just took off like gangbusters,” MacMillan said. “As time goes on you start to realize that there are nine or 10 different things that it can do that you didn’t think of.”

    Old catalysts, new tricks

    At the time that Nicewicz and MacMillan were making their discovery, chemistry professor Tehshik Yoon and his team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that combining the ruthenium catalyst with light produced a different chemical reaction. They published their work in 2008 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society the same day MacMillan’s paper appeared in Science. Within a year of MacMillan publishing his paper, Corey Stephenson, a University of Michigan chemistry professor, and his team found yet another photoredox-based reaction.

    With these demonstrations of the versatility of photoredox catalysts, other chemists quickly joined the search for new reactions. About 20 photoredox catalysts were already available for purchase from chemical catalogs due to previous research on watersplitting and energy storage, so researchers could skip the months-long process of building catalysts. However, by designing and tailoring new catalysts, the chemists unlocked the potential to use light to drive numerous new reactions, and today there are more than 400 photoredox catalysts available.

    The secret to these catalysts’ ability to drive specific reactions lies in their design. The catalysts consist of a central atom, often a metal atom such as ruthenium or iridium, surrounded by a halo of other atoms. Light frees an electron from the central atom, and the atoms surrounding the center act as a sort of channel that ushers the freed electrons toward the specific atoms that the chemists want to join.

    One scientist who became intrigued with the power of photoredox catalysts was Abigail Doyle, a Princeton associate professor of chemistry. Doyle, whose work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, uses nickel to help join two molecules. In 2014, she was searching for a way to conduct a reaction that had long eluded other scientists. She wanted to find a catalyst that could make perhaps the most common bond in organic chemistry — between carbon and hydrogen — reactive enough to couple to another molecule. Perhaps a photocatalyst could make a reactive free radical, allowing her to then bring in a nickel catalyst to attach the carbon-carbon bond.

    Unbeknownst to Doyle, the MacMillan lab had recently turned their attention to combining photoredox and nickel catalysts on a similar reaction, coupling molecules at the site of a carboxylate group, a common arrangement of atoms found in biological molecules from vinegar to proteins.

    Given the similarities in their findings, the MacMillan and Doyle labs decided to combine their respective expertise in nickel and photoredox chemistry. Together, the teams found a photocatalyst based on the metal iridium that worked with nickel to carry out both coupling reactions — at the carbon-hydrogen bond and at the carboxylate group. Their collaborative paper, published in Science July 25, 2014, showed the extent of photoredox catalysis’ power to couple molecules with these common features.

    The ability to combine molecules using natural features such as the carbon-hydrogen bond or the carboxylate group makes photoredox chemistry extremely useful. Often, chemists have to significantly modify a natural molecule to make it reactive enough to easily link to another molecule. One popular reaction — which earned a Nobel Prize in 2010 — requires several steps before two molecules can be linked. Skipping all these steps means a far easier and cheaper reaction — and one that is rapidly being applied.

    “It’s one of the fastest-adopted chemistries I’ve seen,” Doyle said. “A couple of months after we published, we were visiting pharmaceutical companies and many of them were using this chemistry.”

    The search for new drugs often involves testing vast libraries of molecules for ones that interact with a biological target, like trying thousands of keys to see which ones open a door. Pharmaceutical companies leapt at the chance to quickly and cheaply make many more kinds of molecules for their libraries.

    Merck & Co., Inc., a pharmaceutical company with research labs in the Princeton area, was one of the first companies to become interested in using the new approach — and in funding MacMillan’s research.The company donated $5 million to start Princeton’s Merck Center for Catalysis in 2006, and recently announced another $5 million in continued research funding.

    In addition to aiding drug discovery, photoredoxcatalyzed reactions can produce new or less expensive fine chemicals for flavorings, perfumes and pesticides, as well as plastic-like polymer materials. And the techniques keep getting cheaper. MacMillan published a paper June 23, 2016, in Science showing that with the aid of a photoredox catalyst, a widely used reaction to make carbon-nitrogen bonds can be carried out with nickel instead of palladium. Because nickel is thousands of times cheaper than palladium, companies hoping to use the reaction were contacting MacMillan before the paper was even published.

    Spreading the light

    Doyle has continued to explore photoredox chemistry, as have other Princeton faculty members, including two new assistant professors, Robert Knowles and Todd Hyster.

    Hyster combines photoredox catalysis with reactions inspired by biology. Drugs often function by fitting in a protein like a hand fits in a glove. But just as placing a left hand in a right glove results in a poor fit, inserting a left-handed molecule into a protein designed for a right-handed molecule will give poor results. Many catalysts produce both the intended product and its mirror image, but by combining photoredox catalysts with artificial proteins, Hyster is finding reactions that can make that distinction.

    Hyster, who arrived at Princeton in summer 2015, was drawn to Princeton’s chemistry department in part because of the opportunities to share knowledge and experience with other groups researching photoredox catalysis. “The department is quite collegial, so there’s no barrier when talking to colleagues about projects that are broadly similar,” he said.

    Students from different labs chat about their work over lunch, teaching and learning informally — and formally, as the labs encourage collaboration and sharing expertise, said Emily Corcoran, a postdoctoral researcher who works with MacMillan. When Corcoran was trying to determine exactly how one of her reactions worked, she was able to consult with students in Knowles’ lab who had experience using sensitive magnetic measurements to find free radicals in the reaction mixture.

    “If you have a question, you can just walk down the hall and ask,” Corcoran said. “That really pushes all the labs forward at a faster pace.”

    A bright future

    After the graduate students go home at night, the blue LEDs continue to drive new chemical reactions and new discoveries. “This is really just the beginning,” Doyle said.

    Hyster thinks that within a few years, manufacturers may take advantage of photoredox chemistry to produce biological chemicals — such as insulin and the malaria drug artemisinin — to meet human needs. For his part, MacMillan envisions zero-waste chemical plants in the Nevada desert, driven not by fossil fuels but by the sun.

    MacMillan’s vision echoes that of the original photochemist, Ciamician. The Italian’s optimistic vision of a sunlit future is brighter than ever.

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 2:31 pm on November 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Princeton,   

    From Princeton: “An explanation for the mysterious onset of a universal process (Physics of Plasmas)” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University


    PPPL

    November 23, 2016
    John Greenwald, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Communications

    1
    Magnetic reconnection happens in solar flares on the surface in the sun, as well as in experimental fusion energy reactors here on Earth. Image credit: NASA.

    Scientists have proposed a groundbreaking solution to a mystery that has puzzled physicists for decades. At issue is how magnetic reconnection, a universal process that sets off solar flares, northern lights and cosmic gamma-ray bursts, occurs so much faster than theory says should be possible. The answer, proposed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University, could aid forecasts of space storms, explain several high-energy astrophysical phenomena, and improve plasma confinement in doughnut-shaped magnetic devices called tokamaks designed to obtain energy from nuclear fusion.

    Magnetic reconnection takes place when the magnetic field lines embedded in a plasma — the hot, charged gas that makes up 99 percent of the visible universe — converge, break apart and explosively reconnect. This process takes place in thin sheets in which electric current is strongly concentrated.

    According to conventional theory, these sheets can be highly elongated and severely constrain the velocity of the magnetic field lines that join and split apart, making fast reconnection impossible. However, observation shows that rapid reconnection does exist, directly contradicting theoretical predictions.

    Detailed theory for rapid reconnection

    Now, physicists at PPPL and Princeton University have presented a detailed theory for the mechanism that leads to fast reconnection. Their paper, published in the journal Physics of Plasmas in October, focuses on a phenomenon called “plasmoid instability” to explain the onset of the rapid reconnection process. Support for this research comes from the National Science Foundation and the DOE Office of Science.

    Plasmoid instability, which breaks up plasma current sheets into small magnetic islands called plasmoids, has generated considerable interest in recent years as a possible mechanism for fast reconnection. However, correct identification of the properties of the instability has been elusive.

    The Physics of Plasmas paper addresses this crucial issue. It presents “a quantitative theory for the development of the plasmoid instability in plasma current sheets that can evolve in time” said Luca Comisso, lead author of the study. Co-authors are Manasvi Lingam and Yi-Ming Huang of PPPL and Princeton, and Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the Theory Department at PPPL and Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences.

    Pierre de Fermat’s principle

    The paper describes how the plasmoid instability begins in a slow linear phase that goes through a period of quiescence before accelerating into an explosive phase that triggers a dramatic increase in the speed of magnetic reconnection. To determine the most important features of this instability, the researchers adapted a variant of the 17th century “principle of least time” originated by the mathematician Pierre de Fermat.

    Use of this principle enabled the researchers to derive equations for the duration of the linear phase, and for computing the growth rate and number of plasmoids created. Hence, this least-time approach led to a quantitative formula for the onset time of fast magnetic reconnection and the physics behind it.

    The paper also produced a surprise. The authors found that such relationships do not reflect traditional power laws, in which one quantity varies as a power of another. “It is common in all realms of science to seek the existence of power laws,” the researchers wrote. “In contrast, we find that the scaling relations of the plasmoid instability are not true power laws – a result that has never been derived or predicted before.”

    PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by Princeton University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 11:44 am on October 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Data drive quests to control nuclear fusion, , , Princeton   

    From PPPL via Princeton University: “Data drive quests to control nuclear fusion” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    10.12.16
    John Sullivan

    1
    Egemen Kolemen (left), assis- tant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, speaks with Al von Halle, head of engineering and operations for NSTX-U, a major experiment in nuclear fusion being conducted at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

    PPPLII

    PPPL NSTX
    PPPL/NSTX

    Running a fusion reactor is like holding part of the sun in a bottle its heart is a raging storm of particles trapped in a magnetic field.

    To translate this storm’s power into a practical energy source, scientists will have to harness and control the reactor by adjusting the twists and flows of its superheated particles.

    “Plasma can destabilize in milliseconds,” said Egemen Kolemen *08, an assistant professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. “To control the reaction, we need to react in the same timescale.”

    Kolemen is one of several Princeton engineers working with colleagues at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), a U.S. Department of Energy lab administered by Princeton University, to solve critical problems in making fusion energy a practical reality. In particular, Kolemen and Clarence Rowley ’95, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, lead separate projects to control the behavior of a state of matter known as plasma.

    Instant decisions

    A fusion reactor starts by heating light atoms such as hydrogen gas far beyond the temperature of the sun. At such temperatures, electrons fly free of their atoms leaving a swirl of electrically charged particles called plasma. If engineers can arrange this plasma into just the proper configuration, the particles will slam into each other and fuse into new types of matter, releasing massive amounts of energy. Scientists have been able to do this for minutes at a time, but maintaining a stable reaction for a fusion power plant that needs months to years of operation is a different story. The plasma constantly seeks to fling itself apart. Even if operators prevent this, they still have to control the plasma’s constant twists and swirls to maximize the collisions among particles.

    To make things more complex, there is no easy way to take real-time measurements of plasma’s configuration – observations are possible, but they take time to analyze. That is where Kolemen’s work begins.

    “We gather pieces of diagnostic measurements and quantify the uncertainty,” he said. “We try to put all this information in physics models and figure out what the situation is in the reactor.”

    Kolemen is assembling algorithms that will evaluate measurements of the plasma and make rapid calculations that trigger minute shifts in the reactor. The goal is to create an automated system that reacts quickly enough to maintain stability within the plasma.

    “You need to understand all of the diagnostics, analyze them with the physics, predict if there is going to be a disruption, and take action,” he said.

    It might sound impossible, but Kolemen said the framework of the system is in place. He said engineers are now working to build up the system and increase its reliability.

    “Making something so it works once in a while is easy,” he said. “Going from a system that is functional for 90 percent of the time to the more than 99.99 percent reliability needed for a fusion power plant – that requires a bit more thinking.”

    2
    Clarence Rowley (left) and graduate student Imène Goumiri built on data from previous experiments in nuclear fusion to develop a method to reduce turbulence in the chaotic swarm of ultra-hot particles known as plasma, which is necessary for producing fusion power.

    Finding flow

    While Kolemen seeks tools to control plasmas as they change, Rowley is developing mathematical models that reveal why instabilities develop in the first place.

    To an untrained eye, the plasma seems to twist and roll randomly, but Rowley said that underlying patterns often hide in a multitude of details.

    “If you really want to understand what is going on, to get to the heart of the matter, you want to strip away those details,” Rowley said. “Often, it’s something simple.”

    Imène Goumiri, a graduate student in Rowley’s lab, recently worked with colleagues at Princeton and PPPL to develop a system using mathematical modeling and high-speed controls to reduce turbulence in plasmas created in the lab. Built on data from previous experiments, the program reacts quickly to changes in the plasma’s flow and reduces instabilities by rotating sections of the plasma at different speeds.

    Rowley’s team has revealed how small changes that occur at critical locations and are amplified by other factors. The amplification can eventually cause the small change to play a big role in the overall flow.

    “Trying to identify the features of the flow that are very sensitive to change is a big part of this business,” Rowley said. “Even though this is about fluid dynamics or plasma, it can apply to any domain, which is why it is useful to think about it in a mathematical framework. For instance, if you are trying to understand instabilities in a power grid that could lead to blackouts, you want to know if there are places in the grid that are really vulnerable if one generator went off, it could send ripples through the grid. These same techniques could give you a better understanding of that as well.”

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 3:49 pm on September 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Princeton, Researchers unlock coveted bond connection   

    From Princeton: “Researchers unlock coveted bond connection” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    September 23 2016
    Tien Nguyen

    Researchers at Princeton University have introduced a long-awaited reaction capable of forming sp3-sp3 bonds whose presence increases a molecule’s complexity and its chances for clinical success as a drug candidate.

    Published in Nature, the study detailed a mild and general method to couple sp3 carbon atoms – carbon centers defined by that fact that only single bonds connect them to their neighbors. Until now, this coveted reaction had resisted chemists’ efforts, even eluding transition metal catalysis, a powerful field that has enabled a staggering range of coupling reactions over the past 50 years.

    1
    General schematic of metallophotoredox catalyzed sp3-sp3 couplings

    “The reaction is a very unique way of approaching how you would join molecules together, and broadly expands the types of carbons you can connect,” said David MacMillan, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University, Professor of Chemistry and corresponding author on the work.

    Their method revolves around the cooperation of two catalysts, a light-activated iridium catalyst and a nickel-based catalyst. Coined metallaphotoredox catalysis, this process circumvents roadblocks, such as undesired side reactions and an inability to form key intermediates, which had plagued other transition metal mediated attempts. Also, in contrast to previous, specialized versions of the reaction, the researchers’ strategy doesn’t require high temperatures, harsh basic compounds or additional zinc-based molecules.

    The reaction succeeds by enlisting the two catalysts to bring together the molecules forming either side of the final sp3-sp3 bond. The light-activated iridium catalyst converts the commercially available starting compound known as a carboxylic acid into a ready partner. This intermediate is intercepted by the nickel catalyst, which can then incorporate the other chemical partner, called an alkyl halide. Finally, the nickel catalyst excises itself from the compound, releasing the desired product and resetting the cycle.

    The team demonstrated the reaction’s generality as it proceeded smoothly with array of structurally diverse partners. Using this method, they also constructed the antiplatelet drug tirofiban in two steps from simple starting materials using their sp3-sp3 coupling reaction and another metallaphotoredox method recently developed in their lab. This example showcased the utility of their program for drug discovery though it holds potential for other industries as well.

    “That’s what we really care about – inventing reactions that people will use,” MacMillan said. “We really want to do things that are enabling to people all around the world who care about making molecules.”

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 11:22 am on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fermions, , Princeton,   

    From Research at Princeton: “Unconventional quasiparticles predicted in conventional crystals” 

    Princeton University
    Princeton University

    July 22, 2016 [Just appeared in social media.]
    No writer credit found

    1
    Two electronic states known as Fermi arcs, localized on the surface of a material, stem out of the projection of a 3-fold degenerate bulk new fermion. This new fermion is a cousin of the Weyl fermion discovered last year in another class of topological semimetals. The new fermion has a spin-1, a reflection of the 3- fold degeneracy, unlike the spin-½ that the recently discovered Weyl fermions have. No image credit.

    An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of several previously unknown types of quantum particles in materials. The particles — which belong to the class of particles known as fermions — can be distinguished by several intrinsic properties, such as their responses to applied magnetic and electric fields. In several cases, fermions in the interior of the material show their presence on the surface via the appearance of electron states called Fermi arcs, which link the different types of fermion states in the material’s bulk.

    The research, published online this week in the journal Science, was conducted by a team at Princeton University in collaboration with researchers at the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC) in Spain and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Germany. The investigators propose that many of the materials hosting the new types of fermions are “protected metals,” which are metals that do not allow, in most circumstances, an insulating state to develop. This research represents the newest avenue in the physics of “topological materials,” an area of science that has already fundamentally changed the way researchers see and interpret states of matter.

    The team at Princeton included Barry Bradlyn and Jennifer Cano, both associate research scholars at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science; Zhijun Wang, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Physics, Robert Cava, the Russell Wellman Moore Professor of Chemistry; and B. Andrei Bernevig, associate professor of physics. The research team also included Maia Vergniory, a postdoctoral research fellow at DIPC, and Claudia Felser, a professor of physics and chemistry and director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids.

    For the past century, gapless fermions, which are quantum particles with no energy gap between their highest filled and lowest unfilled states, were thought to come in three varieties: Dirac, Majorana and Weyl. Condensed matter physics, which pioneers the study of quantum phases of matter, has become fertile ground for the discovery of these fermions in different materials through experiments conducted in crystals. These experiments enable researchers to explore exotic particles using relatively inexpensive laboratory equipment rather than large particle accelerators.

    In the past four years, all three varieties of gapless fermions have been theoretically predicted and experimentally observed in different types of crystalline materials grown in laboratories around the world. The Weyl fermion was thought to be last of the group of predicted quasiparticles in nature. Research published earlier this year in the journal Nature (Wang et al., doi:10.1038/nature17410) has shown, however, that this is not the case, with the discovery of a bulk insulator which hosts an exotic surface fermion.

    In the current paper, the team predicted and classified the possible exotic fermions that can appear in the bulk of materials. The energy of these fermions can be characterized as a function of their momentum into so-called energy bands, or branches. Unlike the Weyl and Dirac fermions, which, roughly speaking, exhibit an energy spectrum with 2- and 4-fold branches of allowed energy states, the new fermions can exhibit 3-, 6- and 8-fold branches. The 3-, 6-, or 8-fold branches meet up at points – called degeneracy points – in the Brillouin zone, which is the parameter space where the fermion momentum takes its values.

    “Symmetries are essential to keep the fermions well-defined, as well as to uncover their physical properties,” Bradlyn said. “Locally, by inspecting the physics close to the degeneracy points, one can think of them as new particles, but this is only part of the story,” he said.

    Cano added, “The new fermions know about the global topology of the material. Crucially, they connect to other points in the Brillouin zone in nontrivial ways.”

    During the search for materials exhibiting the new fermions, the team uncovered a fundamentally new and systematic way of finding metals in nature. Until now, searching for metals involved performing detailed calculations of the electronic states of matter.

    “The presence of the new fermions allows for a much easier way to determine whether a given system is a protected metal or not, in some cases without the need to do a detailed calculation,” Wang said.

    Verginory added, “One can just count the number of electrons of a crystal, and figure out, based on symmetry, if a new fermion exists within observable range.”

    The researchers suggest that this is because the new fermions require multiple electronic states to meet in energy: The 8-branch fermion requires the presence of 8 electronic states. As such, a system with only 4 electrons can only occupy half of those states and cannot be insulating, thereby creating a protected metal.

    “The interplay between symmetry, topology and material science hinted by the presence of the new fermions is likely to play a more fundamental role in our future understanding of topological materials – both semimetals and insulators,” Cava said.

    Felser added, “We all envision a future for quantum physical chemistry where one can write down the formula of a material, look at both the symmetries of the crystal lattice and at the valence orbitals of each element, and, without a calculation, be able to tell whether the material is a topological insulator or a protected metal.”

    See the full article here .

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