Penn Physicist Discusses the Optical Revolution in New Textbook

Physics and Astronomy professor Philip Nelson talks about the power of light and the ongoing optical revolution in the world of natural sciences in his new book From Photon to Neuron: Light, Imaging, Vision. The textbook integrates various sciences, techniques, and concepts ranging from Physics to Chemistry, Biology and more.

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Physics and Astronomy Researchers Anticipate Solar Eclipse Phenomenon

Professor Masao Sako, Rachel Wolf, Ph.D. graduate and David Sliski, Ph.D. candidate educate the public on the solar-eclipse phenomenon – what to expect, why it occurs and which states will showcase total visibility. The researchers hope the excitement of this nation-wide solar-eclipse will be a catalyst for broader conversations about astronomy and in general, about science.

Penn Researchers Investigate Squids' Perfect Lenses

A team led by Professor Alison Sweeney and Postdoctoral Fellow Jing Cai investigated the material structure of squid eye lenses.  These spherical lenses achieve remarkable acuity by incorporating a graded refractive index, which reproduces to a high degree of accuracy the ideal parabolic form calculated by Maxwell in 1854.  The team found that S-crystallin proteins in the squid eye accomplish this by behaving as patchy colloids—small molecules that have spots of molecular glue that they use to stick together in clusters.

Graduate Student/, Lisa Tran, studies chiral / liquid crystal shells

Cholesteric shells
Can explore topology
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Remembering Emeritus Professor Elias Burstein

On June 17, 2017, the Department of Physics and Astronomy lost one of its most distinguished members with the passing of Elias Burstein at age 99.  Eli joined the Penn faculty in 1958 and held the positions of Mary Amanda Wood Professor of Physics from 1982 and became Mary Amanda Wood Professor Emeritus following his retirement in 1988. Eli was also a founding father of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) in 1960.

Prof. Khoury receives 2017 W. M. Keck Foundation Science and Engineering Grant

Prof. Justin Khoury, who is part of a team of researchers that was just awarded a 2017 W. M. Keck Foundation Science and Engineering Grant. The collaboration, led by Prof. Holger Mueller at UC Berkeley, will use atom interferometry to test various theories of the dark sector, including chameleon and symmetron dark energy fields that Prof. Khoury proposed some years ago. The grant of 1 million dollars over 3 years will fully support a theory postdoctoral fellow at Penn.

Prof. Khoury’s research featured in Quanta: “Dark Matter Recipe Calls for One Part Superfluid”

Justin Khoury, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, has been featured in an article in Quanta Magazine regarding his research on Dark Matter. Prof. Khoury, together with former Penn postdoc Lasha Berezhiani, recently proposed that in the cold, dense environment of the galactic halo, dark matter condenses into a superfluid — an exotic quantum state of matter that has zero viscosity.

Penn Researchers Uncover Complex Behavior of Drying Liquid Crystal Drops

Penn physics PhD student, Zoey Davidson, in collaboration with Yodh, Collings, and Kamien, explored the physics of a new kind of drying drop - one filled with liquid crystals. The formation of different phases during drying led to dramatically different fluid movement and solid deposition.

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Penn Researchers Study How New 2-D Nanopores React to Light

Drndic and Johnson’s labs, together with researchers from Penn State, explore the creation and size control of two dimensional tungsten disulfide nanopores with light.

“We’d like to see if we can use this phenomenon, this chemical reaction, to actually make pores with light. As scientists at a university, we have the luxury of playing around a little bit to see what works better,” Drndić says. “We’re able to explore, which can lead to some new ideas. We’re laying down the fundamental basis behind how nanopores work so that one day engineers can continue the technology.”