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Science Night Live with Dr. Sean Lawley

Wednesday, January 31, 2018  @ 5:30 p.m. - Science Night Live with Dr. Sean Lawley! "Paradoxes, Surprises, and Mistakes in Probability: Correcting our Naivete" at Sky SLC (149 Pierpont Ave) in downtown Salt Lake City!


"Science Night Live public lectures offer a casual social and educational event in downtown Salt Lake. All events are held at Sky SLC (149 Pierpont Ave), beginning with a social at 5:30 and a lecture at 6:00 p.m. Free and open to the public! Must be 21 years of age or older."

with Dr. Sean Lawley,
Department of Mathematics, University of Utah

Paradoxes, Surprises, and Mistakes in Probability: Correcting our Naivete

Date & Time: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 6:00pm (Social begins at 5:30pm)

Location: Sky SLC (149 Pierpont Ave)
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From political elections to personal finance to public policy, probability affects us all. Probability is also full of surprises. In this talk, we will explain several paradoxes and big mistakes in applications of probability to everyday life. Along the way, we will try to correct our (often faulty) intuition.

Science Night Live is free and open to the public 21 or over. Please arrive early, as seating and parking will be limited. Click here to learn more about the Science Night Live lecture series.


Physics Students Win National Recognition

Student-led Physical Sciences Organization is Honored With Award From National Office of the Society of Physics Students as an Outstanding Chapter

The University of Utah chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) in the Department of Physics & Astronomy has won an Outstanding Chapter Award from the SPS National Office. This is the first time the chapter has been recognized for its excellence as a top-tier student-led physical sciences organization, a designation given to fewer than 10% of all SPS chapters at colleges and universities in the U.S. and internationally.

SPS is a professional association designed for students and membership is open to anyone interested in physics and related fields. SPS operates within the American Institute of Physics (AIP), an umbrella organization for professional physical science societies.

SPS chapters are evaluated on their level of interaction with the campus community, the professional physics community, the public, and with SPS national programs. The Outstanding Chapter Award recognizes high levels of outreach as well as unique approaches to fulfilling the mission of SPS to “help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community”.

Visit the website to learn more about the University of Utah chapter of the Society of Physics Students.


Frontiers of Science with Dr. Robert Hazen

Thursday, December 7, 2017 @ 6:00 p.m. - Frontiers of Science with Dr. Robert Hazen! "The Story of Earth: How Life and Rocks Co-evolved" in room 220 of the Aline Wilmot Skaggs Building (ASB) on the U of U Campus!


with Dr. Robert Hazen,
Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory & Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University

Date & Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017  at 6:00pm

Location: 220 Aline Skaggs Building at the University of Utah
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The story of Earth is a 4.5-billion-year saga of dramatic transformations, driven by physical, chemical, and—based on a fascinating growing body of evidence—biological processes. The co-evolution of life and rocks, the new paradigm that frames this lecture, unfolds in an irreversible sequence of evolutionary stages. Each stage re-sculpted our planet’s surface, each introduced new planetary processes and phenomena, and each inexorably paved the way for the next. This grand and intertwined tale of Earth’s living and non-living spheres is only now coming into focus.

Frontiers of Science is free and open to the public. The Frontiers lecture series features eminent scientists and researchers from across the country who are exploring the latest frontiers in their fields. All lectures are free and open to the public, although tickets are required and seating is limited. Click here to learn more about the Frontiers of Science lecture series.


Lightning-Fast Communications

University of Utah researchers develop milestone for ultra-fast communications and computing

PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Hixon/University of Utah College of Engineering
U physics & astronomy Distinguished Professor Valy Vardeny, left, and U electrical and computer engineering professor Ajay Nahata have discovered that a special kind of perovskite, a combination of an organic and inorganic compound.

A mineral discovered in Russia in the 1830s known as a perovskite holds a key to the next step in ultra-high-speed communications and computing.

Researchers from the University of Utah’s departments of electrical and computer engineering and physics and astronomy have discovered that a special kind of perovskite, a combination of an organic and inorganic compound that has the same structure as the original mineral, can be layered on a silicon wafer to create a vital component for the communications system of the future. That system would use the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that uses light instead of electricity to shuttle data, allowing cellphone and internet users to transfer information a thousand times faster than today.

The new research, led by University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Ajay Nahata and physics and astronomy Distinguished Professor Valy Vardeny, was published Monday, Nov. 6 in the latest edition of Nature Communications.

The terahertz range is a band between infrared light and radio waves and utilizes frequencies that cover the range from 100 gigahertz to 10,000 gigahertz (a typical cellphone operates at just 2.4 gigahertz). Scientists are studying how to use these light frequencies to transmit data because of its tremendous potential for boosting the speeds of devices such as internet modems or cell phones.

Nahata and Vardeny uncovered an important piece of that puzzle: By depositing a special form of multilayer perovskite onto a silicon wafer, they can modulate terahertz waves passing through it using a simple halogen lamp. Modulating the amplitude of terahertz radiation is important because it is how data in such a communications system would be transmitted.

Previous attempts to do this have usually required the use of an expensive, high-power laser. What makes this demonstration different is that it is not only the lamp power that allows for this modulation but also the specific color of the light. Consequently, they can put different perovskites on the same silicon substrate, where each region could be controlled by different colors from the lamp. This is not easily possible when using conventional semiconductors like silicon.

“Think of it as the difference between something that is binary versus something that has 10 steps,” Nahata explains about what this new structure can do. “Silicon responds only to the power in the optical beam but not to the color. It gives you more capabilities to actually do something, say for information processing or whatever the case may be.”

Not only does this open the door to turning terahertz technologies into a reality — resulting in next-generation communications systems and computing that is a thousand times faster — but the process of layering perovskites on silicon is simple and inexpensive by using a method called “spin casting,” in which the material is deposited on the silicon wafer by spinning the wafer and allowing centrifugal force to spread the perovskite evenly.

Vardeny says what’s unique about the type of perovskite they are using is that it is both an inorganic material like rock but also organic like a plastic, making it easy to deposit on silicon while also having the optical properties necessary to make this process possible.

“It’s a mismatch,” he said. “What we call a ‘hybrid.’”

Nahata says it’s probably at least another 10 years before terahertz technology for communications and computing is used in commercial products, but this new research is a significant milestone to getting there.

“This basic capability is an important step towards getting a full-fledged communications system,” Nahata says. “If you want to go from what you’re doing today using a modem and standard wireless communications, and then go to a thousand times faster, you’re going to have to change the technology dramatically.”

The paper was co-authored by students, Ashish Chanana, Yaxin Zhai, Sangita Baniya and Chuang Zhang.

Read the full press release on the UNews website. The published paper, "Colour selective control of terahertz radiation using two-dimensional hybrid organic inorganic lead-trihalide perovskites", is available on Nature Communications website.



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