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The colloquium is currently held at 4:30 PM on Tuesdays in Harriman 137. Cookies, tea and coffee are served from 4:15 PM outside the lecture hall.

Colloquium committee:Marivi Fernandez-Serra (Chair), Will Farr, Dmitri Kharzeev, Rouven Essig and Giacinto Piacquadio

Archive of colloquia from 1999 to the present

Spring 2023 Colloquia
Date Speaker Title & Abstract

Feb 7

Alyson Brooks


What is the Matter with Dwarf Galaxies?

The large-scale structure of our Universe is well described by a model in which matter is predominantly Cold Dark Matter (CDM). While CDM was initially thought to have trouble reproducing the small scales of our Universe (dwarf galaxies and the central regions of galaxies like the Milky Way), it has generally become accepted in the last decade that a proper treatment of the gas and stars (baryonic matter) can alleviate those tensions. However, the models of energetic "feedback" from stars that have solved some of the tensions in CDM are now running into trouble solving new problems, specifically the "diversity of rotation curves" problem. In this talk, I will highlight the successes and troubles of current baryonic models, and discuss whether self-interacting dark matter (SIDM) might be a better model to explain observations.

Feb 14

Phil Phillips


Beyond BCS: An Exact Model for Superconductivity and Mottness

The Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory of superconductivity described all superconductors until the 1986 discovery of the high-temperature counterpart in the cuprate ceramic materials. This discovery has challenged conventional wisdom as these materials are well known to violate the basic tenets of the Landau Fermi liquid theory of metals, crucial to the BCS solution. Precisely what should be used to replace Landau's theory remains an open question. The natural question arises: What is the simplest model for a non-Fermi liquid that yields tractable results. Our work builds[1] on an overlooked symmetry that is broken in the normal state of generic models for the cuprates and hence serves as a fixed point. A surprise is that this fixed point also exhibits Cooper's instability[2,3]. However, the resultant superconducting state differs drastically[3] from that of the standard BCS theory. For example the famous Hebel-Slichter peak is absent and the elementary excitations are no longer linear combinations of particles and holes but rather are superpositions of composite excitations. Our analysis here points a way forward in computing the superconducting properties of strongly correlated electron matter.

[1] E. Huang, G. La Nave, P. Phillips, Nat. Phys., 18, pages 511–516 (2022).
[2] PWP, L. Yeo, E. Huang, Nature Physics, 16, 1175-1180 (2020).
[3] J. Zhao, L. Yeo, E. Huang, PWP, PRB, Phys. Rev. B 105, 184509 (2022).

Feb 21

Zoe Yan


Microscopy of quantum correlations in an ultracold molecular gas

Ultracold molecules are a promising platform for quantum simulation of spin physics due to their long-range interactions and large set of internal states. To understand the complex many-body states that emerge in these systems, both in and out of equilibrium, new experimental techniques are needed to probe molecule correlations in the strongly interacting regime.

We study the site-resolved dynamics of spin correlations in a gas of ultracold NaRb molecules in a 2D optical lattice. The molecules realize a quantum XY model with long-range interactions. Using a site-resolved Ramsey interferometric technique, we detect oscillations in nearest- and next-nearest-neighbor correlations due to spin interactions. Furthermore, we apply a periodic external microwave field to engineer XXZ spin Hamiltonians with tunable anisotropies. The correlations are measured by dissociating the molecules and detecting the corresponding Rb atoms with single-site resolution using a quantum gas microscope. The techniques presented here open new doors for probing quantum correlations in complex many-body systems of ultracold molecules.

Feb 28

Feliciano Giustino

UT Austin

The polaron turns ninety

In 1933, Lev Landau wrote a 500-word article analyzing what might happen when an electron travels through a crystal lattice. That deceivingly simple paper marked the birthdate of the concept of polarons. Ninety years on, new experiments and new high-performance computing methods are helping us to shed light on these ubiquitous yet elusive entities. Polarons are emergent quasiparticles that arise from the interaction between fermions and bosons. In crystals, polarons form when an electron becomes dressed by a cloud of virtual phonons in the form of a distortion of the atomic lattice. In the presence of weak electron-phonon interactions, polarons behave like conventional Bloch waves, only with slightly heavier masses. In the presence of strong interactions, on the other hand, polarons become localized wavepackets and profoundly alter the transport, electrical, and optical properties of the host material. In applications, polarons are important in solar photovoltaics, photocatalysis, touchscreens, organic displays, and even neuromorphic computing. In this talk I will introduce the notion of polarons starting from elementary models that capture their essential features. Then I will describe recent explorations of polaron physics from the point of view of first-principles atomic-scale calculations, ranging from density-functional theory to many-body field-theoretic methods. Since we are at Stony Brook, I will also show that the theory of polarons is closely related to the pioneering work by Prof. Allen on the temperature dependence of electronic band structures in crystals. These and many other recent advances in the field raise the hope that it will soon be possible to engineer advanced materials with tailored polaronic properties.

Feliciano Giustino is Professor of Physics at the University of Texas, Austin, and holds the W. A. "Tex" Moncrief, Jr. Chair in Quantum Materials Engineering. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, and held a post-doctoral appointment at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining the University of Texas, he spent over a decade at the University of Oxford as Professor of Materials Science, and one year at Cornell University as the Mary Shepard B. Upson Visiting Professor in Engineering. He is the recipient of a Leverhulme Research Leadership Award, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher. He serves on the Executive Editorial Board of JPhys Materials. He specializes in electronic structure theory, high-performance computing, and the quantum design of advanced materials at the atomic scale. He is author of 160+ scientific publications and one book on density-functional theory published by Oxford University Press. He initiated the open-source software project EPW, which is regularly used by research groups around the world.

Mar 7


No colloquium.

Mar 14


Spring Break. No colloquium.

Mar 21

Monica Plisch

Director of Programs, American Physical Society

Strengthening the Future of Physics by through Teacher Preparation

The enterprise of physics depends on a strong K-12 educational system to prepare and inspire the next generation of physicists. One major challenge is the severe shortage of highly qualified high school physics teachers: each year in the US, colleges and universities only graduate about one-third of the new teachers needed to replace those who retire or leave the profession. As a result, many high school students do not have the opportunity to learn physics from a qualified teacher. In response to this challenge, the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) launched the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC). PhysTEC catalyzes and supports efforts within physics departments across the US to engage in recruiting and educating future K-12 physics teachers. The project has developed several successful models for addressing the physics teacher shortage. Stony Brook University is the lead institution for a PhysTEC Regional Network, a new approach that connects nearby institutions and stakeholders to address shared goals and work collectively to educate greater numbers of highly qualified physics teachers. In this colloquium, I will present our findings and how these successes are shaping the future of PhysTEC.

Mar 28

Tanya Zelevinsky

Columbia University

Ultracold-Molecule Clocks

Ultracold atom technologies have transformed our ability to perform high-precision spectroscopy and apply it to time and frequency metrology. Many of the highest-performing atomic clocks are based on laser-cooled atoms trapped in optical interference patterns. These clocks can be applied to fundamental questions, for example to improve our understanding of gravity and general relativity. In this talk, I will discuss using optically trapped ultracold diatomic molecules, rather than atoms, as a reference for clocks. Molecules have more internal quantum states and therefore are relatively challenging to control. On the other hand, their vibrational modes offer a large number of prospective clock transitions, and can help us probe alternative aspects of new physical interactions. I will discuss the current precision limit of molecular metrology and possible paths forward.

Apr 4

Elena D'onghia

University of Wisconsin


Apr 11



Apr 18

Chris Ashall

Virginia Tech


Apr 25

Xu Du

Stony Brook University


May 2

Matthew Dawber

Stony Brook University

Graduate colloquium.

Fall 2023 Colloquia
Date Speaker Title & Abstract

Sep 5

Chang Kee Jung

Stony Brook University

Chair's Colloquium

Sep 19

Serge Haroche

Nobel Prize Recipient, 2012

C.N. Yang Colloquium

Archived Colloquium Schedules