Penn Researchers Demonstrate How to Control Liquid Crystal Patterns

Graduate Student Lisa Tran leads a study demonstrating new ways to control and organize patterns on the micron scale.  Not only does this demonstrate the complexity of ordered liquid crystal phases on curved surfaces, but it also paves the way for new optical and mechanical materials.

Physics and Astronomy Professor Awarded $450K from Air Force Research Program

Physics and Astronomy Professor Bo Zhen is honored as a recipient of the Air Force Young Investigator Research Program award for his anticipated research in Non-Hermitian Topological Photonics.Image and video hosting by TinyPic The winners of this award will receive a grant tot

Third Annual Women in Physics Public Lecture

On Friday, October 27, the Physics and Astronomy Department will host the Third Annual Women in Physics Public Lecture, to be delivered by Dr. Jill Tarter, Bernard Oliver Chair at the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. The event is made possible by a Fund to Encourage Women grant.

Women in Physics Public Lecture
Co-hosted by the Department of Physics & Astronomy

Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter Awarded $22.6M NSF Center Grant

The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) was awarded a new NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), one of eight selected nationwide, for cutting-edge interdisciplinary materials research.

Physics and Astronomy Grad Student Wins Award in Nikon Competition

PhD candidate, Lisa Tran is awarded 5th place in the 2017 Small World in Motion competition. Tran’s entry on cholesteric liquid crystal shells, encapsulating water droplets at a 10X magnification, gave off psychedelic colors under polarized light.  The competition which is hosted annually by Nikon features digital photomicrographs of life as seen through a light microscope.

To read more about the competition, visit Nikon Small World

Penn Physicists Help Garner NSF-MRI grant for X-Ray Facility

Professor Paul Heiney and collaborators, Karen Winey, Arjun Yodh, Eric Detsi, and Zahra Fakhraai, were awarded a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the NSF for the LRSM's X-Ray Scattering Shared Experimental Facility. Briefly, the new instrument will offer structural information at both high and low spatial resolution across a wide range of length scales (0.09 to 600 nm) and thereby facilitate the study of hierarchical structures in a wide range of hard and soft materials. The MRI award also received matching funds from the LRSM and SEAS.

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.

To read more about the book, visit

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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