Junior and senior physics majors attend our biweekly colloquium series, held on Tuesday afternoons at 4:30 pm in Shanahan B460. The talks are open to all students and to the public, and are frequently attended by scientists from the other Claremont Colleges, Cal Poly Pomona, and others. The series features speakers from a broad range of institutions and fields of physics.

HMC Physics Colloquium shot
Jan. 21, 2014 Leslie Rodgers, Caltech
Glimpsing the Compositions of Sub-Neptune-Size Exoplanets

Sub-Neptune and super-Earth sized planets are a new planet category. They account for 80% of the planet candidates discovered by Kepler, and 0% of the planets in the Solar System. What is the nature of these sub-Neptune-size planets, how did they form, and why are they so numerous? I will review some highlights from the complement of exotic sub-Neptune-size planets …

Nov. 19, 2013 Dan Steck, University of Oregon
Continuous Measurement of the Position of a Single Cold Atom: Towards the Quantum-Classical Transition

Quantum mechanics is fundamentally a theory of measurement, and recently a paradigm in quantum optics has arisen for describing the continuous measurement of quantum systems. Interesting phenomena can happen in continuously observed systems, due to the interplay of the dynamical evolution and the measurement process. In particular, the evolution of a quantum system under a continuous measurement process is both …

Nov. 5, 2013 John Gregoire, Caltech
Enabling Solar Fuels Technology With High Throughput Experimentation

The High Throughput Experimentation (HTE) project of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP, performs accelerated discovery of new earth-abundant photoabsorbers and electrocatalysts. Through collaboration within the DOE solar fuels hub and with the broader research community, the new materials will be utilized in devices that efficiently convert solar energy, water and carbon dioxide into transportation fuels. JCAP-HTE …

Oct. 8, 2013 Wes Campbell, University of California at Los Angeles
One Year Ago Tomorrow (and What Physics Students Should Know About It)

The 2013 Nobel Prize in physics is announced today, but for a series of practical reasons, today’s discussion will focus on the work that led to the prize that was awarded to David Wineland and Serge Haroche one year ago tomorrow. That story begins with the demonstration of laser cooling in 1978, which ushered in a new era for atomic …

Sept. 24, 2013 Jodi Christiansen (’85), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
What Every Physicist Should Know About Observational Cosmology

Over the past 20 years cosmology has been transformed from a largely theoretical pursuit to a high-precision science with ~1% uncertainties. The theoretical developments of the last century and the observations that led to the discovery of 95% of the “stuff” of our universe weave a fascinating tale that finally answers the fundamental question of how it all came to …

Sept. 10, 2013 Twelve HMC Physics Majors, Harvey Mudd College
Physics Majors Describe Summer REU Experiences

Twelve HMC physics majors will give brief descriptions of their summer research projects and experiences carried out at various institutions across the country:

  • Alex An
  • Kevin Hale
  • Alex Kendrick
  • Jaron Kent-Dobias
  • Martin Loncaric
  • Peter Megson
  • David Spierings van der Wolk
  • Kaew Tinyanont
  • Andrew Turner
  • Michelle Vick
  • Andrew Yandow
  • Jordan Zesch
April 23, 2013 Sarah Nichols, WM Keck Science Center
Investigations in Ultrafast Laser Science
Many molecular processes take place in regions of space, time, and/or frequency that are difficult to access experimentally. For instance, visible light microscopy is often limited by sample scattering issues, as well as by the lack of natural fluorescence in many molecules of interest. Complex biological and chemical systems inherently have multiple resonances at a variety of frequencies, such that …
April 9, 2013 Nathaniel Gabor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Atomically Thin Photodetectors: the Ideal Semi-Metal vs. the Insurmountable Insulator
Graphene, an atomically thin sheet of hexagonally oriented carbon, is a zero-band-gap conductor (semi-metal) that exhibits extraordinary electronic behavior and broadband optical absorption. Hexagonal boron nitride, which shares a similar structure to that of graphene, is a highly insulating electronic material that does not absorb any light in the visible spectrum. By combining graphene and boron nitride into ultrathin vertical …
March 26, 2013 Robert Treuhaft, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The Physics in the Forest: Remote Sensing of Tropical Forests with Interferometric SAR and Lidar
When trees are cut down, they release their carbon to the atmosphere in \( \mathrm{CO}_2 \). After fossil fuels, deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic contributor to atmospheric \( \mathrm{CO}_2\). Tropical forests contain about 50% of Earth’s forested biomass, and they account for most deforestation. The degree to which a forest is storing carbon or releasing it to the atmosphere …
March 12, 2013 Frederick H. Streitz ’83, P’13, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Opening Frontiers with Extreme Capability Computing
Lawrence Livermore has a long history of fielding some of the world’s largest computers, fueled by our nearly insatiable need for both capacity and capability computing. Each new generation in computing brings with it the ability to perform simulations that were impossible with the earlier computers. I will discuss the development of three applications designed to run on the largest …
March 5, 2013 David Weld, University of California at Santa Barbara
Cold Atom Quantum Simulation
Ultracold neutral atoms trapped in optical lattices represent a new frontier for the investigation of outstanding problems in many-body quantum mechanics. These systems promise to bring the precision and control of atomic physics to bear on important problems in condensed matter physics, from nonequilibrium spin dynamics to d-wave superconductivity. The ambit of this fast-growing field is expanding from measurement to …
Feb. 19, 2013 Jing Xu, University of California at Merced
Molecular Motor Biophysics: Hardware Instrumentation and Nonlinear Physics
Experimental biophysicists build instruments to study nature’s nano-machines. Molecular motors are nano-machines and are crucial for life: they transport materials in cells. Motor-based transport is inherently a many body problem, and exhibits complex behavior yet to be understood. An analytic model for multiple motor transport has been proposed, but has remained untested. In this talk, I will discuss the construction …
Feb. 5, 2013 Nima Dinyari, University of Oregon
Pursuing a Cavity QED System that Couples a Nitrogen Vacancy Center to a Whispering Gallery Mode Silica Microresonator
Cavity quantum electrodynamics (QED) provides a model system for studying the controlled, coherent coupling of optical and atomic quantum bits. Our research is focused on developing a cavity QED system that couples a nitrogen vacancy (NV) center in a diamond nanostructure to a whispering gallery microresonator. We have developed a composite system that allows for a diamond nanopillar to be …
Jan. 22, 2013 Itai Cohen, Cornell University
Flight of the Fruit Fly
There comes a time in each of our lives where we grab a thick section of the morning paper, roll it up and set off to do battle with one of nature’s most accomplished aviators — the fly. If however, instead of swatting we could magnify our view and experience the world in slow motion we would be privy to …
Dec. 4, 2012 Tom Donnelly, Harvey Mudd College
Using High-Power, Pulsed Lasers to Generate Hot, Dense Environments: A Fusion Testbed
When they where first invented in 1960, someone quipped that “Lasers are a solution waiting for a problem.” That challenge has been met so effectively that today lasers are ubiquitous in everyday life, to say nothing of their presence in laboratories. A series of scientific, engineering, and material-science breakthroughs have allowed lasers to become ever more powerful, and today laser …