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Department News

Attention: Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, all Spring 2020 Tufts events have been cancelled.

Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to major disruption in the lives of students everywhere, our Department has decided that for the 2021/21 graduate admission cycle (i.e., Fall 2021 start of the PhD or Ms programs), both the general and Physics subject GRE scores will be optional. At this time, this is a one-year-only exception.

Tufts Physics Researchers Demonstrate Spontaneous Topography in a Newtonian Fluid
February 2021

When you fill a glass with water, the interface with air is perfectly flat, except around the boundary where a meniscus forms due to the water wetting the glass. Tufts Physics faculty member Timothy J. Atherton together with Andrew J. Ferris and Charles Rosenblatt of Case Western Reserve University proposed and demonstrated a new mechanism to create a fluid/air interface that is not flat. Rather, the free fluid surface possesses an equilibrium topography, the size and shape of which they controlled from elsewhere in the fluid. To accomplish this feat they patterned a surface on the opposite side of a thin nematic liquid crystal film, resulting in a controlled alignment of the molecules throughout the film. Using this approach, they demonstrated experimentally and theoretically that such a pattern can result in a predetermined “bumpy” surface at the top of the fluid film, i.e., at the air interface. This is an example of “action at a distance”, where the physics at one location can alter some remote behavior. A rough analogy might be filling a pool with a liquid and having the bottom of the pool’s shape be reflected in the top surface—something that we don’t experience in everyday life! The effect, though very small, may be key to creating responsive and adaptive devices that can respond to an external stimulus, and ultimately enable the creating of shapeshifters (think Mystique from X-Men). The work was published in Physical Review Letters [126, 057803 (2021)], and was selected by the journal’s editors for special attention by the physics community.

Alexander Vilenkin

National Academy of Sciences Elects Professor Alexander Vilenkin as New Member
April 2020

Professor Alexander Vilenkin has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Members are elected by their peers in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.

The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Approximately 500 current and deceased members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research.

More details on Professor Vilenkin’s work and his contributions to science will be available on the NAS website in July.

MC Prof Jim Al-Khalili alongside Prof Peter Love
Photo credit: Science Museum Group

Prof. Peter Love Discusses Quantum Computing at London Science Museum
September 2019

Prof. Love and other experts tackled myths and misconceptions about Quantum Computing as part of the London Science Museum's "Lates" series. The panel addresses questions such as Will Quantum Computers replace normal computers? and Will Quantum Computers be commonplace in 20 years? A write-up of the discussion is available on the London Science Museum blog.

Danilo Marchesini and Anna Sajina in front of an astronomy exhibition at the Museum of Science in Boston

Tufts Astronomy Faculty Join Prime Focus Spectrograph Project
April 2019

Associate Professors Danilo Marchesini and Anna Sajina have joined the international team responsible for building the Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS). The PFS will be annexed to the Subaru Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii and allows simultaneous spectral observation of up to 2,400 astronomical targets using a state-of-the art fiber system, fiber positioner, four spectrographs, and a Wide Field Corrector (WFC). As part of the PFS Northeastern Participation Group (NEPG), Professors Marchesini and Sajina are guaranteed 300-350 nights of instrument access over 5-6 years with immediate access to the data generated. Access to such data will assist with future research and grant applications for Tufts faculty, post-docs, and students. Sajina and Marchesini will primarily study galaxy formation and actively accreting supermassive black holes, but the instrument also allows other groups to study different areas pertainin to dark matter, dark energy, and galaxy history. PFS testing will begin in 2020, and it is expected to go live in late 2021 or early 2022. Read the full press release.

Cover image of Polymer Physics volume 56

Prof. Peggy Cebe and Graduate Student Nelaka Govinna collaborate with CBE to develop novel filtration membrane
March 2019

Prof. Cebe and Graduate Student Nelaka Govinna, in collaboration with Prof. Ayse Asatekin and Graduate Student Ilin Sadeghi from Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE), recently concluded a research project that is featured on the Tufts Now Bulletin. The research work was focused on developing a novel filtration membrane for oil and water separation and yielded very promising results. Practical uses for the filtration membrane include low-cost, energy-efficient environmental remediation and wastewater treatment.

The project bore fruit to two research papers. Paper #1 was published in Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics, and was selected to be featured on the cover of Issue #6, Volume #56. Paper #2 was published in ACS Applied Polymer Materials and was selected as the ACS Editors' Choice article for March 22nd, 2019--United Nations-designated World Water Day--recognizing the importance of the discovery. With this selection, the article is sponsored for immediate, free open access by the American Chemical Society due to its potential for broad public interest, an honor given to only one article from the entire ACS portfolio each day of the year.

Please join us in congratulating Prof. Cebe, Nelaka, and their collaborators in CBE.

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