Robert Schittko

Schittko's Essay Runner-Up in Nature's Competition

November 4, 2019


In May of 2019, as part of Nature's 150th anniversary, its editors asked readers aged between 18 and 25 to enter an essay competition. The task was to tell, in no more than 1,000 words, what scientific advance they would most like to see in their lifetimes, and why it mattered to them.

Grad Student Robert Schittko's essay, Power Play, which proposes that nuclear fusion could offer a solution to the climate crisis, was one of the two runners-up in the competition....

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Thermal Hall effect

Enhanced Thermal Hall Effect in the Square-Lattice Néel State

October 31, 2019

Common wisdom about conventional antiferromagnets is that their low-energy physics is governed by spin–wave excitations. However, new experiments on several cuprate compounds have challenged this concept. An enhanced thermal Hall response in the pseudogap phase was identified, which, remarkably, persists even in the insulating parent compounds without doping.  

In a recent paper by Rhine Samajdar, Mathias Scheurer, Haoyu Guo and Prof. Subir Sachdev at Harvard, together with collaborators...

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An artist’s drawing of Google’s quantum computer chip, called Sycamore

Riding the Quantum Computing 'Wave'

October 19, 2019

The computing world was abuzz last week after Google scientists announced they’d passed a key threshold in which an experimental quantum computer solved a problem in just minutes that a classical computer would take years —10,000 by Google’s count — to solve. The pronouncement, later disputed by scientists at rival IBM, was widely hailed as proof that quantum computers, which use the mysterious properties of matter at extremely small scales to greatly advance processing power, can — as theorized — exhibit “quantum supremacy” and vastly outperform even the world’s most powerful classical...

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Women+ of Color Workshop participants

Conference Encourages Women of Color to Pursue Doctorates in Physics

October 7, 2019
If there’s one thing LaNell Williams wants women of color interested in studying physics at top institutions to know, it’s this: You can do this.

Williams is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences working in the lab of Wagner Family Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Physics Vinothan Manoharan, and just the third African American woman to pursue a doctorate in physics at Harvard. When she graduates she will join a cohort of fewer than 100 African American women who have received doctorates in the field since 1973.

“When I tried to apply to...

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printed face

Shape-Shifting Structured Lattices

October 2, 2019

What would it take to transform a flat sheet into a human face? How would the sheet need to grow and shrink to form eyes that are concave, a nose that’s convex, and a chin that protrudes? 

How to encode and release complex curves in shape-shifting structures is at the center of research led by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Harvard Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering. 

Over the past decade, theorists and experimentalists have found inspiration in nature as they sought to unravel the...

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Optical Tweezers

Optical Tweezers Give Harvard Scientists the Control to Capture Ultracold Molecules

October 2, 2019

For most people, tweezers are a thing you’d find in a medicine cabinet or beauty salon, useful for getting rid of ingrown hairs or sculpting eyebrows.

Those designed by John Doyle and Kang-Kuen Ni have more exotic applications.

Using precisely focused lasers that act as “optical tweezers,” the pair have been able to capture and control individual, ultracold molecules — the eventual building-blocks of a quantum computer — and study the collisions between molecules in more detail than ever before. The work is described in a ...

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drawing of DNA of viruses

First Video of Viruses Assembling

September 30, 2019

For the first time, researchers have captured images of the formation of individual viruses, offering a real-time view into the kinetics of viral assembly. The research provides new insights into how to fight viruses and engineer self-assembling particles.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.*

"Structural biology has been able to resolve the structure of viruses with amazing resolution, down to every atom in every protein," said Vinothan Manoharan, the...

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colliderscope image of the ATLAS experiment


September 25, 2019

Experimental music from experimental physics, ColliderScope is a musical project of Lawrence Lee, a Postdoctoral Fellow working at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. With a unique form of audio synthesis, waveforms are designed to show images from the world of experimental particle physics — painting dynamic pictures directly with sound using a laboratory oscilloscope by...

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optical dipole trap

An Optical Tweezer Array of Ultracold Molecules

September 13, 2019

Ultracold molecules have important applications that range from quantum simulation and computation to precision measurements probing physics beyond the Standard Model. Optical tweezer arrays of laser-cooled molecules, which allow control of individual particles, offer a platform for realizing this full potential. In a recent issue of Science, Harvard physics grad student Loïc Anderegg and colleaguesin Prof. John Doyle's group report on creating an optical tweezer array of laser-cooled calcium monofluoride molecules. This platform has also allowed scientists to observe ground-...

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architecture of the quantum convolutional neural networks

Quantum Convolutional Neural Networks

September 10, 2019

Machine learning techniques have so far proved to be very promising for the analysis of data in several fields, with many potential applications. However, researchers have found that applying these methods to quantum physics problems is far more challenging due to the exponential complexity of many-body systems. 

Quantum many-body systems are essentially microscopic structures made up of several interacting particles. While quantum physics studies have focused on the collective behavior of these systems, using machine learning in these investigations has proven to be very...

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