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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Physics and Astronomy

Studying black holes with the new Webb telescope

James Webb Space Telescope Mirror Seen in Full Bloom.Vivienne Baldassare, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is part of a research team that will use NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope to determine if distant star clusters and small galaxies have black holes at their center, similar to larger galaxies such as the Milky Way.

In addition to being the largest telescope ever sent to space—upon reaching orbit the James Webb will unfold to the size of a tennis court—the $10 billion successor to the Hubble Telescope is 100 times more powerful and » More …

Atom laser creates reflective patterns similar to light

A glass bottle surrounded by metal equipment.When cooled to almost absolute zero, atoms not only move in waves like light but also can be focused into shapes called caustics, similar to the patterns light makes on the bottom of a swimming pool or through a curved wine glass.

WSU physicists have developed a technique to see these matter-wave caustics by placing attractive or repulsive obstacles in the path of a cold atom laser. The results are curving cusps or folds, upward or » More …

WSU joins Northwest Quantum Nexus

Artist conception of quantum computing.WSU recently joined the Northwest Quantum Nexus (NQN), a regional coalition of organizations working to advance quantum information sciences (QIS) that includes IonQ, Microsoft, University of Washington, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“Through our growing quantum research that spans from physics to engineering, WSU is unlocking new discoveries that will aid in our understanding of complex computing challenges. Together with » More …

Chemist honored as Fellow in top physics organization

Aurora Clark.Aurora E. Clark, a WSU professor and expert in physical chemistry, has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the nation’s leading association for physicists.

Her research “underpins the basic science needed to solve a variety of important industrial problems that impact human health, environmental management, and technological innovation,” Clark said.

The prestigious award recognizes » More …

New “soft X-ray” method for smart nanocarrier medicine

illustration of molecular bonds illuminated by colorful xrays. in the foreground a bond is highlighted in green.Before the huge potential of tiny nanocarriers for highly targeted drug delivery and environmental clean-up can be realized, scientists first need to be able to see them.

““We have developed a new technique to look at nanocarrier internal structure, chemistry, and environmental behavior without any labeling at all—a new capability that up to now has not been possible,” said WSU physicist Brian Collins. “With this new » More …

Researchers create, measure hexagonal diamonds

Diamonds.For the first time, researchers have hard evidence that human-made hexagonal diamonds are stiffer than the common cubic diamonds found in nature and often used in jewelry.

Named for their six-sided crystal structure, hexagonal diamonds have been found at some meteorite impact sites, and others have been made briefly in labs, but these were either too small or had too short of an existence to be measured. » More …

Alumnus recognized for superconductor advancements

Ranga Dias.A breakthrough in superconductivity has landed a WSU physics graduate in the latest Time Magazine list of top innovators.

Ranga Dias (’13 PhD) has been named one of 19 innovation leaders in the 2021 Time100 Next list, which highlights emerging leaders shaping the future. His work to develop a room temperature superconductor represents a significant advancement in the field, with wide-ranging applications from transportation to medical imaging, and even hover boards. » More …