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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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Harnessing the sun to create hydrogen fuel

Clean hydrogen as a fuel source is currently used in industry, but it is produced by water electrolysis without directly using sunlight. Researchers at Purdue University are attempting to simplify the process by producing hydrogen fuel from water using sunlight. Up until now, no efficient device has been devised that would allow this process to occur.

Rare isotopes help unlock mysteries in the Argentine Andes

EUREKALERT — Scientists studying the variations in concentrations of cosmogenic nuclides can estimate how long rocks have been exposed at the Earth’s surface. This allows researchers to gain a better understanding of planetary processes, such as rates of erosion—from nothing more than a kilogram of river sand. The work of Dr. Nat Lifton, of Purdue EAPS, PRIME Lab, and Purdue Physics and Astronomy is discussed in this EurekAlert article.

Early advocacy paved way for Purdue’s thriving Disability Resource Center

Once the Rehabilitation Act became law, public universities across the country needed doggedly determined advocates to ensure compliance. Early advocacy at Purdue University made these changes possible and ongoing. These changes have helped students like Grace Bowling (BS physics and astronomy and mathematics ’22) whose needs are simply different from those of their classmates.

Center for Quantum Technologies launches Industry-University Cooperative Research Center program

Purdue’s most recent quantum leap has been three years in the making. The Center for Quantum Technologies (CQT) has launched the first phase of an Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) program with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). “This collaboration allows us to leverage our collective research expertise to address the many challenges facing multiple industries using quantum technology,” said Sabre Kais, center director and distinguished professor of chemical physics/courtesy faculty for PhysAstro in Purdue’s College of Science. “As a university with world-leading engineering and science programs, and faculty members whose work focuses on many areas of quantum research, Purdue is a natural leader for this center.”

Discovery of the ‘bubble phase of composite fermions’ confirms existence of a new family of quantum matter

Like finding a hidden world, physicists dialing up the magnetic field on a semiconducting material have discovered the first in a new family of matter that flowers from the bizarre realm of the quantum scale. In what researchers dubbed the bubble phase of composite fermions, pairs of quasiparticles – particle-like entities arising from the interaction of particles – align in a crystalline pattern, allowing electricity to flow along the edge of the material. “As the first member of a new family of highly correlated topological phases, this new phase expands our understanding and offers a glimpse of the role of electronic interactions in generating higher order correlations in electronic systems,” said Gábor Csáthy, a Purdue University professor and head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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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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