Department of Physics
October 4, 2016
UW Professor Emeritus David J. Thouless wins Nobel Prize in physics for exploring exotic states of matter
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Tuesday that David James Thouless, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, will share the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics with two of his colleagues. Thouless splits the prize with Professor F. Duncan M. Haldane of Princeton University and Professor J. Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter,” according to the prize announcement from the Academy. Half the prize goes to Thouless while Haldane and Kosterlitz divide the remaining half. Thouless is the UW’s seventh Nobel laureate, and second in physics after Hans Dehmelt in 1989.
May 13, 2016
In traditional light-harvesting methods, energy from one photon only excites one electron or none depending on the absorber’s energy gap, transferring just a small portion of light energy into electricity. The remaining energy is lost as heat. But in a paper released May 13 in Science Advances, Wu, UW associate professor Xiaodong Xu and colleagues at four other institutions describe one promising approach to coax photons into stimulating multiple electrons. Their method exploits some surprising quantum-level interactions to give one photon multiple potential electron partners.
February 23, 2016
Four faculty members at the University of Washington have been awarded early-career fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The new Sloan Fellows, announced Feb. 23, include Bingni Brunton, assistant professor of biology; Christopher Laumann, assistant professor of physics; Matthew McQuinn, assistant professor of astronomy; and Emina Torlak, assistant professor of computer science and engineering….
February 12, 2016
University of Washington scientists have successfully combined two different ultrathin semiconductors — each just one layer of atoms thick and roughly 100,000 times thinner than a human hair — to make a new two-dimensional heterostructure with potential uses in clean energy and optically-active electronics.
February 11, 2016
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
November 19, 2015
Neutrinos may be small, but when it comes to prizes, they pack quite a punch. In October, it was announced that two scientists who headed international projects to study these miniscule, seemingly ephemeral subatomic particles will share the Nobel Prize in Physics. On Nov. 8, these same scientists joined five of their colleagues from other…
October 11, 2015
At 2:45 a.m. on Oct. 6, bleary-eyed Nobel Prize enthusiasts on the West Coast were treated to an unexpected lesson about fundamental particles and forces in our universe. Across the globe in Stockholm, a panel of scientists announced that the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics would honor two scientists who led international collaborations to understand…
September 28, 2015
A team of scientists at the University of Washington and the biotechnology company Illumina have created an innovative tool to directly detect the delicate, single-molecule interactions between DNA and enzymatic proteins. Their approach provides a new platform to view and record these nanoscale interactions in real time. As they report Sept. 28 in Nature Biotechnology, this tool should provide fast and reliable characterization of the different mechanisms cellular proteins use to bind to DNA strands — information that could shed new light on the atomic-scale interactions within our cells and help design new drug therapies against pathogens by targeting enzymes that interact with DNA.
September 24, 2015
The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory — or Fermilab — announced that a 680-ton superconducting magnet is secure in its new home and nearly ready for a new era of discovery in particle physics. This achievement follows the delicate, 3,200-mile transport of the magnet’s 17-ton, 50-foot-wide housing ring to the U.S. Department of Energy facility outside Chicago two years ago. The fully assembled magnet will drive high-energy particle experiments as part of an international partnership among 34 institutions, of which the University of Washington is a leading contributor.
June 3, 2015
The Large Hadron Collider has started recording data from the highest-energy particle collisions ever achieved on Earth. This new data, the first recorded since 2012, will enable an international collaboration of researchers — including many from the UW — to study the Higgs boson, search for dark matter and develop a more complete understanding of the laws of nature.
May 28, 2015
UW physicists have conducted the most precise and controlled measurements yet of the interaction between the atoms and molecules that comprise air and the type of carbon surface used in battery electrodes and air filters — key information for improving those technologies.
April 28, 2015
UW researchers and their collaborators used an experiment in the physics building to measure the energy of a single electron emitted by radioactive decay, a key step in their strategy to measure the mass of the elusive neutrino.
March 23, 2015
University of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser using a semiconductor that’s only three atoms thick. It could help open the door to next-generation computing that uses light, rather than electrons, to transfer information.
October 8, 2014
University of Washington engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.
August 26, 2014
Scientists have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick.
March 10, 2014
University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.
February 3, 2014
The same physics that gives stability to tornadoes lies at the heart of new UW research and could lead to a better understanding of nuclear dynamics in studying fission, superconductors and the workings of neutron stars.
December 3, 2013
New research indicates that a phenomenon called “quantum entanglement” could be intrinsically linked with the creation of wormholes.
November 6, 2013
Physicists are using a detector at the UW to search for a particle called an axion, which would be the first physical evidence of the universe’s dark matter.
May 1, 2013
Mary Lidstrom and David Kaplan are among the 84 new members announced by National Academy of Sciences.