Grants for Quantum Information Science

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced $218 million in new grants for “Quantum Information Science” and researchers with the Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP) at UC Davis are among the recipients.

The QMAP initiative at UC Davis is aimed at fundamental research in theoretical and mathematical physics.

Professors Veronika Hubeny and Mukund Rangamani were awarded $348,000 over two years for work on “Entanglement in String Theory and the Emergence of Geometry.” They will explore connections between the nature of spacetime, quantum entanglement and string theory. Entanglement, famously described by Einstein as “spooky action at a distance,” is a phenomenon in quantum physics where the properties of pairs of particles are correlated even when they are widely separated.

Physics Nobel for Optical Tweezers, Enabled Single Molecule DNA Work

The 2018 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Arthur Ashkin of Bell Labs, Gérard Mourou, École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Donna Strickland, University of Waterloo, Canada for work on laser pulses that led to the development of “optical tweezers” that use lasers to manipulate small objects. 

The invention of optical tweezers made it possible for UC Davis biologists led by Professor Stephen Kowalczykowski and the late Professor Ron Baskin to design experiments where they could manipulate and observe single DNA molecules being copied in real time. In 2001, they used optical tweezers to move a tiny bead with a piece of DNA attached under a microscope, where they could watch a helicase enzyme unwind the DNA — the first step to copying or repairing it.

First Particle Tracks at Prototype for DUNE Underground Neutrino Experiment

By Andre Salles 

The largest liquid-argon neutrino detector in the world has just recorded its first particle tracks, signaling the start of a new chapter in the story of the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE).

The top of the steel cage for one of the two ProtoDUNE detectors is hoisted into position by crane. The prototype contains 800 tons of liquid argon: the final DUNE detector will be 20 times larger. Photo: CERN

How Do You Make an Earth-like Planet?

Astronomers have spotted many Earth-like worlds around other stars, but are these exoplanets really similar to our home, and could they support life? The CLEVER Planets project, including UC Davis professor Sarah Stewart, has received a $7.7 million NASA grant to explore how rocky planets like Earth acquire, sustain, and nurture the chemical conditions necessary for life.

Recipe for a planet

Credit: Courtney Dressing, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Higgs Boson News: Decays to Bottom Quarks, Upholds Standard Model

Six years after its discovery, the Higgs boson has at last been observed decaying to fundamental particles known as bottom quarks. The finding, presented Aug. 28 at CERN by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is consistent with the hypothesis that the all-pervading quantum field behind the Higgs boson also gives mass to the quarks. Both teams have submitted their results for publication.

The CMS detector catches a Higgs boson decaying to two bottom quarks (b) in association with a Z boson decaying to an electron (e-) and an antielectron (e+). (Image: CMS/CERN)

New Insights into Semiconductors for Spintronic Applications from Hard X-Ray Photoemission

“Spintronics” holds promise for new types of devices for information processing and data storage, with ones and zeros being stored in the spin state of electrons as well as their electric charge. Such devices could be faster and more energy efficient than current electronics.

Dilute magnetic semiconductors such as manganese-doped gallium arsenide are a promising material for spintronics, said Slavomir Nemsak, staff researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and former postdoc in the UC Davis Department of Physics, working with Professor Charles Fadley and Adjunct Professor Claus Schneider. They have ferromagnetic properties but are not themselves metals. They are called “dilute” because the dopant makes up a small amount (a few percent) of the semiconductor material.

“Grit in the Gears” Costs Energy in Modular Information Systems

Digital information may appear to exist as abstract ones and zeroes, flipping effortlessly from one to another. But in fact there is a minimum amount of energy required to run any computation system, regardless of how “energy efficient” are its component parts. A recent paper from Jim Crutchfield and Alex Boyd at the UC Davis Complexity Sciences Center with Dibyendu Mandal at UC Berkeley shows that there is some inescapable friction, or “grit in the gears” between the levels of organization in an information system.

Reversing Cause And Effect Is No Trouble For Quantum Computers

Watch a movie backwards and you’ll likely get confused – but a quantum computer wouldn’t.

In research published 18 July in Physical Review X, an international team shows that a quantum computer is less in thrall to the arrow of time than a classical computer. In some cases, it’s as if the quantum computer doesn’t need to distinguish between cause and effect at all.

We find it easier to understand events in time sequence, but a quantum computer may not be so limited, say researchers at UC Davis and the National University of Singapore. Image by Aki Honda/Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore.

Curiosity Finds Organic (Carbon-based) Material in Gale Crater, Mars

The Mars Curiosity rover team announced today (June 7) finding organic matter – carbon-based compounds – in three billion year old mudstone sediments from Gale Crater. They also found seasonal changes in the amount of methane in the local atmosphere.

Scientist and Mars rover

Dawn Sumner is a member of the Mars Curiosity team.

Dawn Sumner, professor of earth and planetary sciences at UC Davis, is a member of the Mars Curiosity team and coauthor on the first paper. She helps with sample selection and mission planning and was instrumental in promoting Gale Crater as a landing site for Curiosity.

Graphene Layered with Magnetic Materials Could Drive Ultrathin Spintronics

Scientists with instrument

UC Davis project scientist Gong Chen (right) and coauthor Andres Schmid of Lawrence Berkeley Lab with the SPLEEM instrument used for imaging magnetic fields inside materials. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt/LBL.

Tiny swirling textures in the magnetic fields within layered materials could be a key to replacing disk drives and flash memory in computing devices. Physicists at UC Davis and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are exploring how these patterns form in materials layered with graphene, an ultrathin form of carbon. A paper on the work was published online May 28 in Nature Materials.