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Department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy has a rich and long history dating back to the latter part of the 19th century. Our faculty and students are exploring nature at all length scales, from the subatomic (quarks and gluons) to the macroscopic (black holes and dark energy), and everything in between (atomic and biological systems).

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Benjamin Mottelson (1926–2022): Physicist and Nobel prizewinner who revolutionized understanding of the atomic nucleus

We mourn the loss of Benjamin Mottelson, Purdue University alumnus (Physics '47), who was a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975. We are ever grateful for his advances in nuclear physics theory. Read more about his legacy in this article by Nature.

Purdue receives 2021 DEPSCoR grants from Department of Defense

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded grants to three Purdue University research projects selected in its 2021 DEPSCoR (Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) competition. Two of these projects have been awarded to Purdue Physics and Astronomy faculty. 1. Subwavelength-spaced atomic arrays as novel light-matter interfaces- Qi-Yu (Grace) Liang, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. 2. Dispersive detection of charge state of a superconducting vortex- Jukka Ilmari Vayrynen, assistant professor of physics and astronomy.

A new duality discovered at Purdue University solves a physics mystery

In conventional wisdom, producing a curved space requires distortions, such as bending or stretching a flat space. A team of researchers at Purdue University have discovered a new method to create curved spaces that also solves a mystery in physics. Without any physical distortions of physical systems, the team has designed a scheme using non-Hermiticity, which exists in any systems coupled to environments, to create a hyperbolic surface and a variety of other prototypical curved spaces.

Painting a clearer picture of black holes

Black holes are everywhere right now – at the middle of every galaxy, of course, as well as all over the news — thanks to the recent picture taken of the black hole at the center of Earth’s own galaxy. Matthew Lister, professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Science at Purdue University, explains the significance of the image, only the second one ever taken of a black hole.

Purdue physics and astronomy professor named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Laura Pyrak-Nolte, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science, has been elected to one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Pyrak-Nolte, who is recognized as the world’s leading expert on the acoustic, mechanical and transport characteristics of porous and fractured media, is one of 261 members of the newest academy class. Her work in this field leads to innovation in the availability of fresh water to drink, the power of geothermal resources to heat and cool our homes, and aids the modern energy economy that relies on the injection and withdrawal of fluids through fracture networks in rock.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, 525 Northwestern Avenue, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2036 • Phone: (765) 494-3000 • Fax: (765) 494-0706

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