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  • richardmitnick 9:58 pm on May 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Two (Photons) is Company- Three’s a Crowd", , University of Maryland   

    From Joint Quantum Institute (US) at University of Maryland (US) : “Two (Photons) is Company- Three’s a Crowd” 

    JQI bloc

    From Joint Quantum Institute (US)

    At


    University of Maryland (US)

    April 26, 2021

    S. Rolston
    rolston@umd.edu

    Written by Bailey Bedford

    1
    Researchers have engineered a cloud of atoms (blue circles) to create exotic interactions that selectively whittle down a beam of light made of bunches of one, two or three photons (red circles). In the animation above, the ideal case is presented: All groups of three photons interact with each other and are knocked out of the beam, while the smaller bunches pass through unaffected. (Credit: Chris Cesare/JQI)

    Photons—the quantum particles of light—normally don’t have any sense of personal space. A laser crams tons of photons into a tight beam, and they couldn’t care less that they are packed on top of each other. Two beams can even pass through each other without noticing. This is all well and good when making an extravagant laser light show or using a laser level to hang a picture frame straight, but for researchers looking to develop quantum technologies that require precise control over just one or two photons, this lack of interaction often makes life difficult.

    Now, a group of UMD researchers has come together to create tailored interactions between photons in an experiment where, at least for photons, two’s company but three’s a crowd. The technique builds on many previous experiments that use atoms as intermediaries to form connections between photons that are akin to the bonds between protons, electrons and other kinds of matter. These interactions, along with the ability to control them, promises new opportunities for researchers to study the physics of exotic interactions and develop light-based quantum technologies.

    “With a laser you cannot really say ‘I only want one photon or two photons or three photons,’ or ‘I only want one and two photons, but not three photons,’” says Dalia Ornelas-Huerta, a former JQI graduate student and the lead experimental author on the paper. “So, with the system, it could lead to a degree of freedom of saying, ‘I want one photon or two photons, but not three.’”

    In a paper published today in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers described how they created a venue for influencing a beam of photons, with several experimental knobs for adjusting the subtle interactions between them. In their experiment, they dialed up the interactions among three photons to be stronger than the interactions between two photons—a fact that allowed them to selectively remove three photons at a time from the beam. When they sent in a beam of light that generally contains no more than three photons, they got out just one or two photons at a time.

    The effort to keep photons from congregating brought together several research groups at the University of Maryland (UMD). Ornelas-Huerta, JQI Fellow Steven Rolston, a Fellow of the Quantum Technology Center and a physics professor at UMD, and JQI Fellow and NIST physicist Trey Porto, together with other team members, carried out the experiment. JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov and Michael Gullans, both National Institute of Standards and Technology(US) physicists and Fellows of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (UMD) (US), and colleagues focused on the theoretical explanation.

    “We thought we had a simple idea,” says Gullans, who began working on this line of research in 2017 when he was a JQI postdoctoral researcher. “And then we tried the experiment. And we had to invent a bunch of new ideas for how to calculate three-body physics and we also spent a huge amount of time learning how to analyze the data and interpret the data to see evidence for this effect.”

    That seemingly simple idea was to use Rydberg atoms as an intermediary between the normally non-communicative photons to create just the right conditions so that three photons traveling together would experience an interaction that would knock them out of the beam. These atoms are useful because they are sensitive to the influence of nearby photons and other atoms. The sensitivity arises because Rydberg atoms have electrons that roam far from the center of the atom, leaving them open to external influences—influences that can produce strong, adjustable interactions.

    The interactions between the Rydberg atoms and a passing photon can form a polariton—a hybrid of the quantum states of the photon and the atoms that behaves like a new distinct particle. Polaritons have been used in many past experiments, and researchers know how to manipulate them (and their component photons) using lasers. The ability to manipulate these states inspired the researchers to try to craft a new sort of interaction where three polaritons interact in a distinctly different way than just two.

    These sorts of interactions, called three-body interactions, aren’t very common in day-to-day life or even in a physics lab. Most interactions that happen at a scale bigger than an atom (no matter how many objects are involved) are two-body interactions, like the gravitational attraction between planets or the repulsion of electrons in a conductor. Being a two-body interactions simply means that the interactions between each possible pairing of objects is the same as if that pair existed in isolation. So the overall behavior of the collection is just the result of adding together the interactions between the pairs.

    But in certain situations, like protons and neutrons binding together into atomic nuclei, three-body interactions occur and the total interaction is more than just the sum of interactions between pairs. These more complex relationships can arise when the particles that mediate the interaction (in nuclei, these particles are called gluons) can impact each other. So photons communicating through intermediary atoms have the potential for strong three-body interactions since the atoms can interact with each other and can change during the process.

    “You have a feedback in the sense that the involved polaritons change because of the interaction,” says JQI postdoctoral researcher Przemyslaw Bienias, who was the theoretical lead author on the paper. So, you not only get an interaction but the interaction changes the polaritons’ internal structure and this leads to those strong multi-body effects.”

    You can think of the collection of Rydberg atoms in the experiment like a restaurant set up for Valentine’s Day with only intimate tables for two. Photons entering as couple or a single customer can happily enjoy a meal at a small, cozy table, but if you crowd three people around one, they are probably going to bump elbows and irritate each other. They will probably quickly leave the restaurant before getting to dessert.

    For the photons (dressed up as polaritons), this change to the venue isn’t really about the physical space they share but about the abstract quantum space in which they exchange energy and momentum. In the abstract space, two photons can easily share a table without knocking each other into new states, but three will most likely elbow each other into new states and away from the table through an interaction.

    The experiment’s success lies in the team determining how to orchestrate the necessary relationships between polaritons. They had to set the laser used to manipulate the atoms to a precise frequency, related to how the Rydberg atoms shuffle energy between quantum energy states that the outermost electron can inhabit. The team successfully created conditions where the possible interactions depended on the number of polaritons present. Just one or two and they were unlikely to scatter. But if three were available to exchange energy and momentum the chance of them interacting and being knocked out of the beam shot up. So after leaving the Rydberg atoms behind, the uncluttered stream of light is left containing just individual or pairs of photons.

    The whole thing is the result of a carefully choreographed juggling act, with the atoms using energy from photons to move their electrons between low-, intermediate- and high-energy quantum states—all while simultaneously dancing with each other.

    “It was challenging, both in theory and experiment,” Ornelas-Huerta says. “We needed to go into this experimental regime where we had strong interactions and we had a strong coupling between the light and the atoms and also we have to try to minimize the losses from the intermediate state.”

    The theorists identified what laser frequencies to use and the signatures of three-photon losses that experimentalists looked for. Then they were able to closely match the experimental data to mathematical descriptions of how the interactions affected the photons traveling in bunches of various sizes and how the polaritons states exchanged energy and momentum during the interactions.

    “There are still efforts in theory and experiment to keep studying different regimes of few-body interactions.” Ornelas-Huerta says. “And to study how we can tune them or how we can add other states to even have more degrees of freedom and make these interactions more tunable. There’s still room to do much more research and interesting experiments on these systems.”

    Understanding and being able to create many-body interactions opens opportunities to simulate the physics of other many-body interactions and to develop new technologies, like photonic gates that serve as the basic building blocks of quantum computers and quantum networks that can send messages between quantum devices.

    “We now have a much clearer picture of the few-body physics in these Rydberg systems,” Gullans says. “And, I think where we want to go now is starting to put the pieces together—making photonic gates and quantum networks. We understand the fundamental physics well enough that we can start to get into those questions.”

    In addition to Rolston, Porto, Gullans, Gorshkov, Ornelas-Huerta and Bienias, co-authors of the research paper include JQI graduate students Alexander Craddock and Andrew Hachtel; JQI postdoctoral researcher Mary E. Lyon; and JQI undergraduate summer researcher Marcin Kalinowski.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    JQI supported by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    We are on the verge of a new technological revolution as the strange and unique properties of quantum physics become relevant and exploitable in the context of information science and technology.

    The Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) is pursuing that goal through the work of leading quantum scientists from the Department of Physics of the University of Maryland (UMD), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS). Each institution brings to JQI major experimental and theoretical research programs that are dedicated to the goals of controlling and exploiting quantum systems.

    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:21 pm on February 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Regional Quantum Research Body Adds Industry; Government; Higher Ed Partners", , , Condensed Matter Theory Center, Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science, , Quantum Materials Center, Quantum Technology Center, UMD-Convened Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance Expands Impact and Reach in Vital New Technology Realm., University of Maryland   

    From University of Maryland: “Regional Quantum Research Body Adds Industry; Government; Higher Ed Partners” 


    From University of Maryland

    Feb 17, 2021

    UMD-Convened Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance Expands Impact and Reach in Vital New Technology Realm.

    1
    UMD’s broad range of quantum science and technology research contributes to the growing Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance (MQA), which seeks to make our region a center for advancing a field expected to revolutionize computing, sensing, information technology and more.Credit: John T. Consoli.

    A hub of quantum technology research, innovation and education centered on the University of Maryland gained 10 members in the past year, expanding a vibrant and diverse ecosystem meant to foster U.S. and regional leadership in an increasing vital field.

    The newest additions to the 24-member Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance (MQA) include the NIST, IBM, Bowie State University and several other major firms and out-of-state universities and institutions in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

    Launched in January 2020 as the Maryland Quantum Alliance, the MQA has been renamed the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance to reflect its larger, more inclusive scope. The University of Maryland, long recognized as a national and world leader in quantum science and technology, with five quantum research centers dedicated to the field, convened and facilitated the consortium of quantum scientists and engineers in academia, and national laboratories and industry. (One industry member, IonQ, is a UMD spinoff company based in the university’s Discovery District.)

    The five quantum research centers are:

    Joint Quantum Institute-The Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), founded in 2006, is the cornerstone of UMD’s quantum enterprise. Formed as a research partnership between UMD and NIST and supported by the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, JQI is dedicated to the broad study of quantum science—from theory to experiment—on a host of platforms.


    Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science-The Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS) is a collaboration with NIST that expands research at the junction of quantum physics, computer science and information theory, enabling the full potential of quantum computing.

    3

    Quantum Technology Center-The Quantum Technology Center (QTC) joins researchers in engineering and physics to focus on translating quantum physics into innovative technologies.

    4

    Condensed Matter Theory Center-The Condensed Matter Theory Center (CMTC) has made pioneering contributions to exotic approaches to quantum computing now being pursued worldwide.

    5

    Quantum Materials Center-The Quantum Materials Center (QMC) is a specialized research center in the Department of Physics where scientists synthesize and explore novel quantum materials with the goal of enabling new quantum device platforms utilizing superconductivity, topology and other quantum phenomena.

    6

    “We are very pleased to welcome new partners to the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “Our region is already a world leader in quantum science and technology, and the MQA is working to expand its impact in the design, building and commercialization of quantum technologies, and to create a skilled, diverse quantum workforce. This work is essential to power the coming quantum revolution in computing, communication, sensing, materials and many other areas.”

    For the past year, MQA workgroups have been creating ways for members to more easily share resources, facilities, equipment, expertise and data; they’re also easing the process for members to team up to pursue joint opportunities, as well as to educate the public about the promise of quantum science and technology, which leverages the often surprising physics of the universe at the scale of individual atoms and photons.

    In addition, the expanding alliance helps its members work together on training a quantum workforce and establishing global thought leadership in the field. The MQA recently launched several new initiatives to showcase its technical leadership on the global stage, support quantum commercialization and entrepreneurship, and expand the quantum talent pipeline.

    Members
    The Alliance members listed below have formally agreed to work together, facilitated by the University of Maryland, to advance the regional quantum ecosystem, specifically by helping to:
    • Raise public awareness of quantum opportunities and potential,
    • Drive quantum science discovery,
    • Develop pioneering quantum technologies,
    • Support quantum entrepreneurship, and/or
    • Train the quantum workforce of tomorrow.
    Universities
    • Virginia Tech
    • University of Maryland, College Park
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    • University of Delaware
    • Pittsburgh Quantum Institute
    • Morgan State University
    • Johns Hopkins University
    • Georgetown University
    • George Mason University
    • Bowie State University
    Gov’t Labs/Research Centers
    • National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
    • The MITRE Corporation
    • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
    • CCDC Army Research Laboratory (ARL)
    Fortune 500s
    • Protiviti
    • Northrop Grumman
    • Lockheed Martin
    • International Business Machines (IBM)
    • Booz Allen Hamilton
    • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
    SMEs
    • Quaxys
    • Quantopo
    • Qrypt
    • IonQ

    “MQA members’ wealth of relevant expertise and Maryland’s concentration of world-leading quantum institutes with cutting-edge facilities and research, made this the ideal place to launch our new quantum technologies company,” said Alan Salari, founder and CEO of Quaxys, a new MQA member that is developing a new generation of hardware systems used for control and measurement of quantum bits, the basic unit of information in quantum computing. “We are excited to collaborate with experts from the University of Maryland and other MQA members in our work to bring the best of such technology to the market in the shortest time.”

    Bowie State University Professor Chaobin Liu heralded the benefits of the institution’s MQA membership for students at the state of Maryland’s first historically Black public university.

    “We expect that MQA will create opportunities for BSU students to leverage the world-class quantum expertise, educational resources and career opportunities in the region and to fully participate in the second quantum revolution,” said Liu, whose research and teaching focuses on probability theory and mathematical statistics, mathematical physics and quantum computation.

    Other goals of the organization include making relevant quantum expertise and technology easier to find and access, elevating diversity and inclusion as a core part of MQA efforts, connecting with public and K-12 educational campaigns, and building international partnerships.

    “Building and expanding diverse collaborations across different types of organizations are the foundations for a vibrant quantum economy within the region, which is the prime purpose of the MQA,” said MQA Interim Executive Director John Sawyer. “Our members work together to align basic and applied quantum science with real-world needs and requirements, enable more rapid discovery of creative solutions, and equitably create the necessary infrastructure and workforce to scale up quantum technologies.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:35 am on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Detect Eerie Glow Still Radiating From Neutron Star Collision Years Later", , , , , , , Neutron star collison event GW170817, , University of Maryland   

    From University of Maryland via Science Alert: “Astronomers Detect Eerie Glow Still Radiating From Neutron Star Collision Years Later” 


    From University of Maryland

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    1
    Artist’s impression of GW170817. (ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser.)

    12 OCTOBER 2020
    MICHELLE STARR

    It’s now been over three years since history was made with the first-ever detection of colliding neutron stars. From 130 million light-years away, astronomers watched a brilliant flash of gamma-radiation, heralded by rippling gravitational waves, as the two dead stars came together.

    Since then, astronomers have been keeping a careful eye on the corner of space in which the collision occurred, to see what happens in the aftermath of such a violent event. And, surprisingly, they found it still continued to glow in the X-ray spectrum long after models predicted such glowing would cease.

    “We are entering a new phase in our understanding of neutron stars,” said astronomer Eleonora Troja of the University of Maryland.

    “We really don’t know what to expect from this point forward, because all our models were predicting no X-rays and we were surprised to see them 1,000 days after the collision event was detected. It may take years to find out the answer to what is going on, but our research opens the door to many possibilities.”

    The collision event, named GW170817, was first detected on 17 August 2017 as gravitational waves emanating from a section of sky in the constellation of Hydra, thanks to the LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave detectors.

    2
    From GW170817 Press Release.

    MIT /Caltech Advanced aLigo .

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA.

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Hanford, WA, USA.

    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy.

    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy.

    Then, just 1.7 seconds later, two space-based observatories, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and ESA’s INTErnational Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory, picked up an intense gamma-ray burst – the brightest and most energetic events in the Universe – from the same area of sky.

    NASA/Fermi LAT.


    NASA/Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope.

    ESA/Integral.

    Nine days later, astronomers picked up a glow spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to X-rays. This was something new, never seen following a gamma-ray burst. Previously, all gamma-ray bursts had completely faded within a few minutes, while this glow defied our understanding of the gamma-ray burst aftermath.

    This new afterglow emission was interpreted as the result of a relativistic jet [The Astrophysical Journal Letters] – that is, a jet moving at a significant percentage of the speed of light – from the kilonova explosion. As this jet expands into space, it generates its own shockwave, which emits light across the spectrum, from radio waves to X-rays.

    The afterglow continued to grow in brightness, peaking at 160 days and then rapidly fading away – but the X-radiation lingered. It was last detected in March of this year by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, two and a half years after the first detection of the collision; in subsequent observations in May using the Australian Telescope Compact Array, the glow was below the detection threshold.

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    Australian Telescope Compact Array, an array of six 22-m antennas, at the Paul Wild Observatory, 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural New South Wales.

    3

    Troja and her team have mapped the X-ray glow, and found that the prolonged emission is still consistent with a relativistic jet, but are not quite sure what enabled it to continue this long after the collision.

    Given that GW170817 is the first event of its kind that we’ve been able to observe, it’s likely there are things we don’t understand about how gamma-ray bursts and neutron star collisions happen.

    “Having a collision so close to us that it’s visible opens a window into the whole process that we rarely have access to,” Troja said. “It may be there are physical processes we have not included in our models because they’re not relevant in the earlier stages that we are more familiar with, when the jets form.”

    It’s also possible that it’s not the jet itself that caused the extended emission, but an expanding cloud of gas from the kilonova that followed behind it, creating its own shockwave. If multiple shockwaves take place at different times and behave differently, that could explain the differences in how the different wavelengths faded.

    Or the X-rays could have been prolonged by what the researchers called “continued energy injection by a long-lived central engine” – that whatever was left behind by the collision continued to emit X-radiation.

    We don’t currently have enough data to work out which of these scenarios caused the continued glow, but some things are clear. Firstly, we don’t fully understand neutron star mergers. Something is missing from our models, and only continued observations and analysis will help figure out what that is.

    Secondly, since this glow has only been identified in relation to a neutron star collision, it could be a signature we can use to identify other neutron star collisions that we may have missed. It’s characteristics could be used to look for similar emission in X-ray data archives to uncover these missed events.

    More observations of the GW170817 patch of sky will commence in December of this year, and astronomers are not sure what they are going to find. Either way, it will help constrain our understanding of the event.

    “This may be the last breath of an historical source or the beginning of a new story, in which the signal brightens up again in the future and may remain visible for decades or even centuries,” Troja said. “Whatever happens, this event is changing what we know about neutron star mergers and rewriting our models.”

    The research is due to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and is available on arXiv [A thousand days after the merger: continued X-ray emission from GW170817]

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:17 pm on April 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Maryland Engineers Open Door to Big New Library of Tiny Nanoparticles", A James Clark School of Engineering, , , , , University of Maryland   

    From University of Maryland: “Maryland Engineers Open Door to Big New Library of Tiny Nanoparticles” 


    From University of Maryland

    1

    April 24, 2020

    2

    The development of bimetallic nanoparticles (i.e., tiny particles composed of two different metals that exhibit several new and improved properties) represents a novel area of research with a wide range of potential applications. Now, a research team in the University of Maryland (UMD)’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) has developed a new method for mixing metals generally known to be immiscible, or unmixable, at the nanoscale to create a new range of bimetallic materials. Such a library will be useful for studying the role of these bimetallic particles in various reaction scenarios such as the transformation of carbon dioxide to fuel and chemicals.

    The study, led by MSE Professor Liangbing Hu, was published in Science Advances on April 24, 2020. Chunpeng Yang, an MSE Research Associate, served as first author on the study.

    “With this method, we can quickly develop different bimetallics using various elements, but with the same structure and morphology,” said Hu. “Then we can use them to screen catalytic materials for a reaction; such materials will not be limited by synthesizing difficulties.”

    The complex nature of nanostructured bimetallic particles makes mixing such particles difficult, for a variety of reasons—including the chemical makeup of the metals, particle size, and how metals arrange themselves at the nanoscale—using conventional methods.

    This new non-equilibrium synthesis method exposes copper-based mixes to a thermal shock of approximately 1300 ̊ Celsius for .02 seconds and then rapidly cools them to room temperature. The goal of using such a short interval of thermal heat is to quickly trap, or ‘freeze,’ the high-temperature metal atoms at room temperature while maintaining their mixing state. In doing so, the research team was able to prepare a collection of homogeneous copper-based alloys. Typically, copper only mixes with a few other metals, such as zinc and palladium—but by using this new method, the team broadened the miscible range to include copper with nickel, iron, and silver, as well.

    “Using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM), we were able to confirm the morphology – how the materials formed – and size of the resulting Cu-Ag [copper-silver] bimetallic nanoparticles,” Yang said.

    This method will enable scientists to create more diverse nanoparticle systems, structures, and materials having applications in catalysis, biological applications, optical applications, and magnetic materials.

    As a model system for rapid catalyst development, the team investigated copper-based alloys as catalysts for carbon monoxide reduction reactions, in collaboration with Feng Jiao, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. The electro-catalysis of carbon monoxide reduction (COR) is an attractive platform, allowing scientists to use greenhouse gas and renewable electrical energy to produce fuels and chemicals.

    “Copper is, thus far, the most promising monometallic electrocatalyst that drives carbon monoxide reduction to value-added chemicals,” said Jiao. “The ability to rapidly synthesize a wide variety of copper-based bimetallic nanoalloys with a uniform structure enables us to conduct fundamental studies on the structure-property relationship in COR and other catalyst systems.”

    This non-equilibrium synthetic strategy can be extended to other bimetallic or metal oxide systems, too. Utilizing artificial intelligence-based machine learning, the method will make rapid catalyst screening and rational design possible.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:01 pm on April 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Peeking into a World of Spin-3/2 Materials", , Spin like mass and electrical charge is an intrinsic property of quantum particles., University of Maryland   

    From Joint Quantum Institute: “Peeking into a World of Spin-3/2 Materials” 

    JQI bloc

    From Joint Quantum Institute

    April 15, 2020

    Research Contact
    Igor Boettcher
    iboettch@umd.edu

    Media Contact
    Bailey Bedford
    bedfordb@umd.edu

    1
    In a material, the momentum and energy of an electron are tied together by a “dispersion relation” (pictured above). This relationship influences the electrons’ behavior, sometimes making them behave as particles with different quantum properties. (Credit: Igor Boettcher/University of Maryland)

    Researchers have been pushing the frontiers of the quantum world for over a century. And time after time, spin has been a rich source of new physics.

    Spin, like mass and electrical charge, is an intrinsic property of quantum particles. It is central to understanding how quantum objects will respond to a magnetic field, and it divides all quantum objects into two types. The half-integer ones, like the spin-1/2 electron, refuse to share the same quantum state, whereas the integer ones, like the spin-1 photon, don’t have a problem cozying up together. So, spin is essential when delving into virtually any topic governed by quantum mechanics, from the Higgs Boson to superconductors.

    Yet after almost a century of playing a central role in quantum research, questions about spin remain. For example, why do all the elementary particles that we know about only have spin values of 0, 1/2, or 1? And what new behaviors might exist for particles with spin values greater than 1?

    The first question may remain a cosmic mystery, but there are opportunities to explore the second. Inside of a material, a particle’s surroundings can cause it to behave like it has a new spin value. In the past couple years, researchers have discovered materials in which electrons behave like their spin has been bumped up, from 1/2 to 3/2. JQI postdoctoral researcher Igor Boettcher explored the new behaviors these spins might produce in a recent paper featured on the cover of Physical Review Letters.

    Instead of looking at a particular material, Boettcher focused on the math that describes interactions between spin-3/2 electrons at low temperatures. These electrons can interact in more ways than their mundane spin-1/2 counterparts, which unlocks new phases—or collective behaviors—that researchers can look for in experiments. Boettcher sifted through the possible phases, searching for the ones that are likely to be stable at low temperatures. He looked at which phases tie up the least energy in the interactions, since as the temperature drops a material becomes most stable in the form containing the least energy (like steam condensing into liquid water and eventually freezing into ice).

    He found three promising phases to hunt for in experiments. Which of these phases, if any, arise in a particular material will depend on its unique properties. Still, Boettcher’s predictions provide researchers with signals to keep an eye out for during experiments. If one of the phases forms, he predicts that common measurement techniques will reveal a signature shift in the electrical properties.

    Boettcher’s work is an early step in the exploration of spin-3/2 materials. He hopes that one day the field might be comparable to that of graphene, with researchers constantly racing to explore new physics, produce better quality materials, and identify new transport properties.

    “I really hope that this will develop into a big field, which will require both experimentalists and the theorists to do their part so that we can really learn something about the spin-3/2 particles and how they interact.” says Boettcher. “This is really just the beginning right now, because these materials just popped up.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    JQI supported by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    We are on the verge of a new technological revolution as the strange and unique properties of quantum physics become relevant and exploitable in the context of information science and technology.

    The Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) is pursuing that goal through the work of leading quantum scientists from the Department of Physics of the University of Maryland (UMD), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS). Each institution brings to JQI major experimental and theoretical research programs that are dedicated to the goals of controlling and exploiting quantum systems.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:33 pm on April 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Charting a Course Toward Quantum Simulations of Nuclear Physics", , , University of Maryland   

    From Joint Quantum Institute: “Charting a Course Toward Quantum Simulations of Nuclear Physics” 

    JQI bloc

    From Joint Quantum Institute

    April 8, 2020

    Research Contact
    Zohreh Davoudi
    davoudi@umd.edu

    Media Contact
    Bailey Bedford
    bedfordb@umd.edu

    1
    Trapped ion quantum simulators may soon offer new means to explore the properties of matter emerging from complex interactions among quarks, gluons and the other fundamental building blocks of nature. (Credit: A. Shaw and Z. Davoudi/University of Maryland)

    In nuclear physics, like much of science, detailed theories alone aren’t always enough to unlock solid predictions. There are often too many pieces, interacting in complex ways, for researchers to follow the logic of a theory through to its end. It’s one reason there are still so many mysteries in nature, including how the universe’s basic building blocks coalesce and form stars and galaxies. The same is true in high-energy experiments, in which particles like protons smash together at incredible speeds to create extreme conditions similar to those just after the Big Bang.

    Fortunately, scientists can often wield simulations to cut through the intricacies. A simulation represents the important aspects of one system—such as a plane, a town’s traffic flow or an atom—as part of another, more accessible system (like a computer program or a scale model). Researchers have used their creativity to make simulations cheaper, quicker or easier to work with than the formidable subjects they investigate—like proton collisions or black holes.

    Simulations go beyond a matter of convenience; they are essential for tackling cases that are both too difficult to directly observe in experiments and too complex for scientists to tease out every logical conclusion from basic principles. Diverse research breakthroughs—from modeling the complex interactions of the molecules behind life to predicting the experimental signatures that ultimately allowed the identification of the Higgs boson—have resulted from the ingenious use of simulations.

    But conventional simulations only get you so far. In many cases, a simulation requires so many computations that the best computers ever built can’t make meaningful progress—not even if you are willing to wait your entire life.

    Now, quantum simulators (which exploit quantum effects like superposition and entanglement) promise to bring their power to bear on many problems that have refused to yield to simulations built atop classical computers—including problems in nuclear physics. But to run any simulation, quantum or otherwise, scientists must first determine how to faithfully represent their system of interest in their simulator. They must create a map between the two.

    Computational nuclear physicist Zohreh Davoudi, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Maryland (UMD), is collaborating with researchers at JQI to explore how quantum simulations might aid nuclear physicists. They are working to create some of the first maps between the theories that describe the underpinnings of nuclear physics and the early quantum simulators and quantum computers being put together in labs.

    “It seems like we are at the verge of going into the next phase of computing that takes advantage of quantum mechanics,” says Davoudi. “And if nuclear scientists don’t get into this field now—if we don’t start to move our problems into such quantum hardware, we might not be able to catch up later because quantum computing is evolving very fast.”

    Davoudi and several colleagues, including JQI Fellows Chris Monroe and Mohammad Hafezi, designed their approach to making maps with an eye toward compatibility with the quantum technologies on the horizon. In a new paper published April 8, 2020 in the journal Physical Review Research, they describe their new method and how it creates new simulation opportunities for researchers to explore.

    “It is not yet clear exactly where quantum computers will be usefully applied,” says Monroe, who is also a professor of physics at UMD and co-founder of the quantum computing startup IonQ. “One strategy is to deploy them on problems that are based in quantum physics. There are many approaches in electronic structure and nuclear physics that are so taxing to normal computers that quantum computers may be a way forward.”

    Patterns and Control

    As a first target, the team set their sights on lattice gauge theories. Gauge theories describe a wide variety of physics, including the intricate dance of quarks and gluons—the fundamental particles in nuclear physics. Lattice versions of gauge theories simplify calculations by restricting all the particles and their interactions to an orderly grid, like pieces on a chessboard.

    Even with this simplification, modern computers can still choke when simulating dense clumps of matter or when tracking how matter changes over time. The team believes that quantum computers might overcome these limitations and eventually simulate more challenging types of gauge theories—such as quantum chromodynamics, which describes the strong interactions that bind quarks and gluons into protons and neutrons and hold them together as atomic nuclei.

    Davoudi and her colleagues chose trapped atomic ions—the specialty of Monroe—as the physical system for performing their simulation. In these systems, ions, which are electrically charged atoms, hover, each trapped by a surrounding electric or magnetic field. Scientists can design these fields to arrange the ions in various patterns that can be used to store and transfer information. For this proposal, the team focused on ions organized into a straight line.

    Researchers use lasers to control each ion and its interactions with neighbors—an essential ability when creating a useful simulation. The ions are much more accessible than the smaller particles that intrigue Davoudi. Nuclear physicists can only dream of achieving the same level of control over the interactions at the hearts of atoms.

    “Take a problem at the femtometer scale and expand it to micron scale—that dramatically increases our level of control,” says Hafezi, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Physics at UMD. “Imagine you were supposed to dissect an ant. Now the ant is stretched to the distance between Boston and Los Angeles.”

    While designing their map-making method, the team looked at what can be done with off-the-shelf lasers. They realized that current technology allows ion trappers to set up lasers in a new, efficient way that allows for simultaneous control of three different spin interactions for each ion.

    “Trapped-ion systems come with a toolbox to simulate these problems,” says Hafezi. “Their amazing feature is that sometimes you can go back and design more tools and add it to the box.”

    With this opportunity in mind, the researchers developed a procedure for producing maps with two desirable features. First, the maps maximize how faithfully the ion-trap simulation matches a desired lattice gauge theory. Second, they minimize the errors that occur during the simulation.

    In the paper, the researchers describe how this approach might allow a one-dimensional string of ions to simulate a few simple lattice gauge theories, not only in one dimension but also higher dimensions. With this approach, the behavior of ion spins can be tailored and mapped to a variety of phenomena that can be described by lattice gauge theories, such as the generation of matter and antimatter out of a vacuum.

    “As a nuclear theorist, I am excited to work further with theorists and experimentalists with expertise in atomic, molecular, and optical physics and in ion-trap technology to solve more complex problems,” says Davoudi. “I explained the uniqueness of my problem and my system, and they explained the features and capabilities of their system, then we brainstormed ideas on how we can do this mapping.”

    Monroe points out that “this is exactly what is needed for the future of quantum computing. This ‘co-design’ of devices tailored for specific applications is what makes the field fresh and exciting.”

    Analog vs. Digital

    The simulations proposed by Davoudi and her colleagues are examples of analog simulations, since they directly represent elements and interactions in one system with those of another system. Generally, analog simulators must be designed for a particular problem or set of problems. This makes them less versatile than digital simulators, which have an established set of discrete building blocks that can be put together to simulate nearly anything given enough time and resources.

    The versatility of digital simulations has been world-altering, but a well-designed analog system is often less complex than its digital counterpart. Carefully designed quantum analog simulations might deliver results for certain problems before quantum computers can reliably perform digital simulations. This is similar to just using a wind tunnel instead of programming a computer to model the way the wind buffets everything from a goose to an experimental fighter plane.

    Monroe’s team, in collaboration with coauthor Guido Pagano, a former JQI postdoctoral researcher who is now an assistant professor at Rice University, is working to implement the new analog approach within the next couple of years. The completed system should be able to simulate a variety of lattice gauge theories.

    The authors say that this research is only the beginning of a longer road. Since lattice gauge theories are described in mathematically similar ways to other quantum systems, the researchers are optimistic that their proposal will find uses beyond nuclear physics, such as in condensed matter physics and materials science. Davoudi is also working to develop digital quantum simulation proposals with Monroe and Norbert Linke, another JQI Fellow. She hopes that the two projects will reveal the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and provide insight into how researchers can tackle nuclear physics problems with the full might of quantum computing.

    “We want to eventually simulate theories of a more complex nature and in particular quantum chromodynamics that is responsible for the strong force in nature,” says Davoudi. “But that might require thinking even more outside the box.”

    In addition to Davoudi, Hafezi and Monroe, co-authors of the paper include former JQI postdoctoral researcher and current assistant professor at Rice University Guido Pagano; JQI graduate student Alireza Seif, and UMD Physics graduate student Andrew Shaw.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    JQI supported by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    We are on the verge of a new technological revolution as the strange and unique properties of quantum physics become relevant and exploitable in the context of information science and technology.

    The Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) is pursuing that goal through the work of leading quantum scientists from the Department of Physics of the University of Maryland (UMD), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS). Each institution brings to JQI major experimental and theoretical research programs that are dedicated to the goals of controlling and exploiting quantum systems.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:42 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "First direct seismic measurements of Ьars reveal a geologically active planet", , , , , , , University of Maryland   

    From University of Maryland via phys.org: “First direct seismic measurements of Ьars reveal a geologically active planet” 


    From University of Maryland

    via


    phys.org

    February 24, 2020

    1
    NASA’s InSight lander deployed its seismometer on the Martian surface on Dec. 19, 2018. This image, captured on Feb. 2, 2019 (Martian Sol 66) by the deployment camera on the lander’s robotic arm shows the protective wind and thermal shield which covers the seismometer. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    The first reports of seismic activity and ground vibrations on Mars are in. The red planet has a moderate level of seismic activity, intermediate between Earth and the Moon.

    An international team that includes University of Maryland geologists released preliminary results from the InSight mission, which landed a probe on Mars on November 26, 2018. Data from the mission’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) provided the first direct seismic measurements of the Martian subsurface and upper crust—the rocky outermost layer of the planet. The results were published in a special issue of the journal Nature Geoscience on February 24, 2020.

    “This is the first mission focused on taking direct geophysical measurements of any planet besides Earth, and it’s given us our first real understanding of Mars’ interior structure and geological processes,” said Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at UMD and a co-author of the study. “These data are helping us understand how the planet works, its rate of seismicity, how active it is and where it’s active.”

    The seismic data acquired over 235 Martian days showed 174 seismic events, or marsquakes. Of those, 150 were high-frequency events that produce ground shaking similar to that recorded on the Moon by the Apollo program. Their waveforms show that seismic waves bounce around as they travel through the heterogeneous and fractured Martian crust. The other 24 quakes observed by SEIS were predominantly low-frequency events. Three showed two distinct wave patterns similar to quakes on Earth caused by the movement of tectonic plates.

    “These low-frequency events were really exciting, because we know how to analyze them and extract information about subsurface structure,” said Vedran Lekic, an associate professor of geology at UMD and a co-author of the study. “Based on how the different waves propagate through the crust, we can identify geologic layers within the planet and determine the distance and location to the source of the quakes.”

    The researchers identified the source location and magnitude of three of the low-frequency marsquakes, and believe that 10 more are strong enough to reveal their source and magnitude once they are analyzed.

    “Understanding these processes is part of a bigger question about the planet itself,” Schmerr said. “Can it support life, or did it ever? Life exists at the edge, where the equilibrium is off. Think of areas on Earth such as the thermal vents at the deep ocean ridges where chemistry provides the energy for life rather than the sun. If it turns out there is liquid magma on Mars, and if we can pinpoint where the planet is most geologically active, it might guide future missions searching for the potential for life.”

    Detecting signs of life was the primary mission of the earlier Mars probes, Viking 1 and Viking 2.

    NASA/Viking 1 Lander

    NASA Viking 2 Lander

    Each carried seismometers, but they were mounted directly on the landers and provided no useful data. The Viking 1 instrument did not unlock properly, and Viking 2 only picked up noise from wind buffeting the lander but no convincing marsquake signals.

    The InSight mission is dedicated specifically to geophysical exploration, so engineers worked to solve previous noise problems. A robotic arm on the lander placed the SEIS seismometer directly on the Martian ground some distance away to isolate it from the lander. The instrument is also housed in a vacuum chamber and covered by the aptly named Wind and Thermal Shield. The SEIS seismometer is sensitive enough to discern very faint ground vibrations, which on Mars are 500 times quieter than ground vibrations found in quietest locations on Earth.

    In addition, the seismometer provided important information about Martian weather. Low-pressure systems and swirling columns of wind and dust called dust devils lift the ground enough for the seismometer to register a tilt in the substrate. High winds flowing across the surface of the ground also create a distinct seismic signature. Combined with data from meteorological instruments, SEIS data help paint a picture of the daily cycles of surface activity near the InSight lander.

    The researchers found that the winds pick up from about midnight through early morning, as cooler air rolls down from highlands in the Southern Hemisphere onto the Elysium Planitia plains in the Northern Hemisphere where the lander is located. During the day, heating from the sun causes convective winds to build. Winds reach their peak in late afternoon when atmospheric pressure drops and dust devil activity occurs. By evening, the winds die down, and conditions around the lander become quiet. From late evening until about midnight, atmospheric conditions are so quiet, the seismometer is able to detect the rumblings from deeper inside the planet.

    All of the marsquakes have been detected during these quiet periods at night, but the geologic activity likely persists throughout the day.

    “What is so spectacular about this data is that it gives us this beautifully poetic picture of what a day is actually like on another planet,” Lekic said.

    The InSight mission is scheduled to continue collecting data through 2020.

    The research papers, “Constraints on the shallow elastic and anelastic structure of Mars from InSight seismic data,” P.Lognonné et al., and “Initial results from the InSight mission on Mars” by W. Banerdt et al., were published as part of a special issue of the journal Nature Geoscience released on February 24, 2020.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About Science X in 100 words

    Science X™ is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004 (Physorg.com), Science X’s readership has grown steadily to include 5 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Science X publishes approximately 200 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Science X community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.
    Mission 12 reasons for reading daily news on Science X Organization Key editors and writersinclude 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.

    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:46 pm on September 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, , , LINER galaxies-low ionization nuclear emission line region galaxies, University of Maryland,   

    From University of Maryland: “UMD-led Study Captures Six Galaxies Undergoing Sudden, Dramatic Transitions” 

    From University of Maryland

    September 18, 2019

    Matthew Wright
    301-405-9267
    mewright@umd.edu

    Zwicky Transient Facility observations reveal surprising transformations from sleepy LINER galaxies to blazing quasars within months.

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Courtesy Caltech Optical Observatories

    Edwin Hubble at Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, (credit: Emilio Segre Visual Archives/AIP/SPL)

    Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, located in San Diego County, California, United States, altitude 1,712 m (5,617 ft)

    1
    A new study led by University of Maryland astronomers documented six sleepy, low-ionization nuclear emission-line region galaxies (LINERs; left) suddenly transforming into blazing quasars (right), home to the brightest of all active galactic nuclei. The researchers suggest they have discovered an entirely new type of black hole activity at the centers of these six LINER galaxies. Image credits: (Left; infrared & visible light imagery): ESA/Hubble, NASA and S. Smartt (Queen’s University Belfast); (Right; artist’s concept): NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Galaxies come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and brightnesses, ranging from humdrum ordinary galaxies to luminous active galaxies. While an ordinary galaxy is visible mainly because of the light from its stars, an active galaxy shines brightest at its center, or nucleus, where a supermassive black hole emits a steady blast of bright light as it voraciously consumes nearby gas and dust.

    Sitting somewhere on the spectrum between ordinary and active galaxies is another class, known as low-ionization nuclear emission-line region (LINER) galaxies. While LINERs are relatively common, accounting for roughly one-third of all nearby galaxies, astronomers have fiercely debated the main source of light emission from LINERs. Some argue that weakly active galactic nuclei are responsible, while others maintain that star-forming regions outside the galactic nucleus produce the most light.

    A team of astronomers observed six mild-mannered LINER galaxies suddenly and surprisingly transforming into ravenous quasars—home to the brightest of all active galactic nuclei. The team reported their observations, which could help demystify the nature of both LINERs and quasars while answering some burning questions about galactic evolution, in The Astrophysical Journal on September 18, 2019. Based on their analysis, the researchers suggest they have discovered an entirely new type of black hole activity at the centers of these six LINER galaxies.

    “For one of the six objects, we first thought we had observed a tidal disruption event, which happens when a star passes too close to a supermassive black hole and gets shredded,” said Sara Frederick, a graduate student in the University of Maryland Department of Astronomy and the lead author of the research paper. “But we later found it was a previously dormant black hole undergoing a transition that astronomers call a ‘changing look,’ resulting in a bright quasar. Observing six of these transitions, all in relatively quiet LINER galaxies, suggests that we’ve identified a totally new class of active galactic nucleus.”

    All six of the surprising transitions were observed during the first nine months of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), an automated sky survey project based at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California, which began observations in March 2018. UMD is a partner in the ZTF effort, facilitated by the Joint Space-Science Institute (JSI), a partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Changing look transitions have been documented in other galaxies—most commonly in a class of active galaxies known as Seyfert galaxies. By definition, Seyfert galaxies all have a bright, active galactic nucleus, but Type 1 and Type 2 Seyfert galaxies differ in the amount of light they emit at specific wavelengths. According to Frederick, many astronomers suspect that the difference results from the angle at which astronomers view the galaxies.

    Type 1 Seyfert galaxies are thought to face Earth head-on, giving an unobstructed view of their nuclei, while Type 2 Seyfert galaxies are tilted at an oblique angle, such that their nuclei are partially obscured by a donut-shaped ring of dense, dusty gas clouds. Thus, changing look transitions between these two classes present a puzzle for astronomers, since a galaxy’s orientation towards Earth is not expected to change.

    Frederick and her colleagues’ new observations may call these assumptions into question.

    “We started out trying to understand changing look transformations in Seyfert galaxies. But instead, we found a whole new class of active galactic nucleus capable of transforming a wimpy galaxy to a luminous quasar,” said Suvi Gezari, an associate professor of astronomy at UMD, a co-director of JSI and a co-author of the research paper. “Theory suggests that a quasar should take thousands of years to turn on, but these observations suggest that it can happen very quickly. It tells us that the theory is all wrong. We thought that Seyfert transformation was the major puzzle. But now we have a bigger issue to solve.”

    Frederick and her colleagues want to understand how a previously quiet galaxy with a calm nucleus can suddenly transition to a bright beacon of galactic radiation. To learn more, they performed follow-up observations on the objects with the Discovery Channel Telescope, which is operated by the Lowell Observatory in partnership with UMD, Boston University, the University of Toledo and Northern Arizona University.


    Discovery Channel Telescope, operated by the Lowell Observatory in partnership with UMD, Boston University, the University of Toledo and Northern Arizona University, at Lowell Observatory, Happy Jack AZ, USA, Altitude 2,360 m (7,740 ft)

    These observations helped to clarify aspects of the transitions, including how the rapidly transforming galactic nuclei interacted with their host galaxies.

    “Our findings confirm that LINERs can, in fact, host active supermassive black holes at their centers,” Frederick said. “But these six transitions were so sudden and dramatic, it tells us that there is something altogether different going on in these galaxies. We want to know how such massive amounts of gas and dust can suddenly start falling into a black hole. Because we caught these transitions in the act, it opens up a lot of opportunities to compare what the nuclei looked like before and after the transformation.”

    Unlike most quasars, which light up the surrounding clouds of gas and dust far beyond the galactic nucleus, the researchers found that only the gas and dust closest to the nucleus had been turned on. Frederick, Gezari and their collaborators suspect that this activity gradually spreads from the galactic nucleus—and may provide the opportunity to map the development of a newborn quasar.

    “It’s surprising that any galaxy can change its look on human time scales. These changes are taking place much more quickly than we can explain with current quasar theory,” Frederick said. “It will take some work to understand what can disrupt a galaxy’s accretion structure and cause these changes on such short order. The forces at play must be very extreme and very dramatic.”

    ###

    In addition to Frederick and Gezari, UMD-affiliated co-authors of the research paper include Adjunct Associate Professor of Astronomy Bradley Cenko, former Neil Gehrels Prize Postdoctoral Fellow Erin Kara and astronomy graduate student Charlotte Ward.

    “A New Class of Changing-look LINERs,” by Sara Frederick, Suvi Gezari, Matthew Graham, Bradley Cenko, Sjoert Van Velzen, Daniel Stern, Nadejda Blagorodnova, Shrinivas Kulkarni, Lin Yan, Kishalay De, Christoffer Fremling, Tiara Hung, Erin Kara, David Shupe, Charlotte Ward, Eric Bellm, Richard Dekany, Dmitry Duev, Ulrich Feindt, Matteo Giomi, Thomas Kupfer, Russ Laher, Frank Masci, Adam Miller, James Neill, Chow-Choong Ngeow, Maria Patterson, Michael Porter, Ben Rusholme, Jesper Sollerman and Richard Walters, was published in The Astrophysical Journal on September 18, 2019.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:11 pm on September 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , First-year Research Immersion, SUNY Binghamton, , Undergraduate research, University of Maryland,   

    From The Conversation: “At these colleges, students begin serious research their first year” 

    Conversation
    From The Conversation

    September 16, 2019
    Nancy Stamp

    Rat brains to understand Parkinson’s disease. Drones to detect plastic landmines. Social media to predict acts of terrorism.

    These are just a few potentially lifesaving research projects that students have undertaken in recent years at universities in New York and Maryland. While each project is interesting by itself, there’s something different about these particular research projects – all three were carried out by undergraduates during their earliest years of college.

    That’s noteworthy because students usually have to wait until later in their college experience – even graduate school – to start doing serious research. While about one out of every five undergraduates get some kind of research experience, the rest tend to get just “cookbook” labs that typically do not challenge students to think but merely require them to follow directions to achieve the “correct” answer.

    That’s beginning to change through First-year Research Immersion, an academic model that is part of an emergent trend meant to provide undergraduates with meaningful research experience.

    The First-year Research Immersion is a sequence of three course-based research experiences at three universities: University of Texas at Austin, University of Maryland and Binghamton University, where I teach science.

    As a scientist, researcher and professor, I see undergraduate research experience as a crucial part of college. And as the former director of my university’s First-year Research Immersion program for aspiring science or engineering majors, I also believe these research experiences better equip students to apply what they learn in different situations.

    There is evidence to support this view. For instance, a 2018 study found that undergraduate exposure to a rigorous research program “leads to success in a research STEM career.” The same study found that undergraduates who get a research experience are “more likely to pursue a Ph.D. program and generate significantly more valued products” compared to other students.

    A closer look

    Just what do these undergraduate research experiences look like?

    At the University of Texas, it involved having students identify a new way to manage and repair DNA, the stuff that makes up our genes. This in turn provides insights into preventing genetic disorders.

    At the University of Maryland, student teams investigated how social media promotes terrorism and found that it is possible to identify when conflicts on social media can escalate into physical violence.

    4
    Binghamton student William Frazer test a drone with a sense to detect plastic landmines. Jonathn Cohen/Binghamton University

    Essential elements

    The First-year Research Immersion began as an experiment at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. The University of Maryland at College Park and Binghamton University – SUNY adapted the model to their institutions in 2014.

    The program makes research experiences an essential part of a college course. These course-based research experiences have five elements. Specifically, they:

    Engage students in scientific practices, such as how and why to take accurate measurements.
    Emphasize teamwork.
    Examine broadly relevant topics, such as the spread of Lyme disease.
    Explore questions with unknown answers to expose students to the process of scientific discovery.
    Repeat measurements or experiments to verify results.

    The model consists of three courses. In the first course, students identify an interesting problem, determine what’s known and unknown and collaborate to draft a preliminary project proposal.

    In the second course, students develop laboratory research skills, begin their team project and use the results to write a full research proposal.

    In the third course, during sophomore year, students execute their proposed research, produce a report and a research poster.

    This sequence of courses is meant to give all students – regardless of their prior academic experience – the time and support they need to be successful.

    Does it work?

    The First-year Research Immersion program is showing promising results. For instance, at Binghamton, where 300 students who plan to major in engineering and science participate in the program, a survey indicated that participants got 14% more research experience than students in traditional laboratory courses.

    At the University of Maryland, where 600 freshmen participate in the program, students reported that they made substantial gains in communication, time management, collaboration and problem-solving.

    At the University of Texas at Austin, where about 900 freshman participate in the First-Year Research Immersion program in the natural sciences, educators found that program participants showed a 23% higher graduation rate than similar students who were not in the program. And this outcome took place irrespective of students’ gender, race or ethnicity, or whether they were the first in their family to attend college or not.

    All three programs have significantly higher numbers of students from minority groups than the campuses overall. For instance, at Binghamton University, there are 22% more students from underrepresented minority groups than the campus overall, university officials reported. This has significant implications for diversity because research shows that longer, more in-depth research experiences – ones that involve faculty – help students from minority groups and low-income students stick with college.

    5
    Akibo Watson, a neuroscience major at Binghamton University, conducts an analysis of brain tissue. Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University

    Undergraduates who get research experience also enjoy professional and personal growth. Via online surveys and written comments, students routinely say that they improved dramatically in their self-confidence and career-building skills, such as communication, project management skills and teamwork.

    Students also report that their undergraduate research experience has helped them obtain internships or get into graduate school.

    Making research experiences available more broadly

    The challenge remains in making the opportunity of more undergraduate research experiences available to more students.

    The First-year Research Immersion program is not the only course-based research program that is connected to faculty research.

    However, to the best of my knowledge, the First-year Research Immersion programs at my university, and in Texas and Maryland, are the only such programs for first-year students that are overseen by a research scientist and involve taking three courses in a row. This three-course sequence allows student teams to delve deeply into real problems.

    More colleges could easily follow suit. For instance, traditional introductory lab courses could be transformed into research-based courses at no additional cost. And advanced lab courses could be converted to research experiences that build on those research-based courses. In that way, students could take the research projects they started during their first and second years of college even further.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Conversation launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
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