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From the College of Natural Sciences
Physicist Pushes Boundaries of Photonics and Electronics

Physicist Pushes Boundaries of Photonics and Electronics

​Much of what Dr. Xiaoqin "Elaine" Li researches is completely invisible to the human eye. She works with materials that are merely a few atoms thick and observes processes that occur within a trillionth of a second.

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Audio: Pyramid Probe

Audio: Pyramid Probe

What would you do if you had Superman's x-ray vision? In today's episode of the Point of Discovery Podcast, we talk to a physicist about how he's using his superhuman powers to explore the insides of ancient Mayan pyramids without digging.

The Highly Cited Allan MacDonald

The Highly Cited Allan MacDonald

Allan H. MacDonald, a professor in the Department of Physics, was one of eight UT Austin faculty chosen for Thomson Reuters' 2015 Highly Cited Researchers list.

Testing General Relativity

Testing General Relativity

This is the third of a three-part series on general relativity.

The Theory of General Relativity—Einstein's century-old description of gravity—presented physicists with some pretty bizarre predictions. To test them, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have traveled to the Sahara Desert to observe a rare eclipse, launched into Earth orbit the densest known object orbiting anywhere in the Solar System, and used computers to model ripples in space and time unleashed by the mergers of black holes.

A team from the University of Texas at Austin constructed a temporary telescope house from plywood and styrofoam in the Sahara Desert to observe the bending of starlight by the sun during a total solar eclipse in June 1973. Photo: Richard Matzner.
Can General Relativity, at 100, Withstand Some Holes?

Can General Relativity, at 100, Withstand Some Holes?

This is the first of a three-part series on general relativity. 

In November 1915, Albert Einstein stood before his colleagues in the Prussian Academy of Sciences and unveiled a set of equations that would forever change the way we see the universe. The Theory of General Relativity, Einstein's description of gravity, explained the motions of everything we see in the universe.

UT Austin Physicist Wins Award at Breakthrough Prize Ceremony

UT Austin Physicist Wins Award at Breakthrough Prize Ceremony

Raphael Flauger, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics, has won a prestigious award for early career achievement for his outstanding contributions to theoretical cosmology. At last night's Breakthrough Prize Awards Ceremony, sometimes called "The Oscars of Science," Flauger received the New Horizons in Physics Prize as a young scientist who has already produced important work in fundamental physics.

Researchers Win $2 Million Grant to Develop Atomically Thin Semiconductors

Researchers Win $2 Million Grant to Develop Atomically Thin Semiconductors

A research team led by Xiaoqin Elaine Li, an associate professor in the Department of Physics at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded a grant of $2 million over the next four years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research and develop thin, flexible semiconductors that might eventually lead to bendable computer screens and wearable electronics.

Much in the Works at the Physics Machine Shop

Much in the Works at the Physics Machine Shop

Pieces of detectors for particle colliders and neuroscience research line the shelves in the UT Austin Physics Machine Shop. The air constantly hums with the noise of advanced machines at work.

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Grad Student Aims to Shape Understanding of Universe

Grad Student Aims to Shape Understanding of Universe

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the first graduate student earning a degree at UT Austin and our new Discovery Fellows campaign, we're launching a series of posts to introduce you to current graduate students from across the College of Natural Sciences.

New Nanostructure Could Lead to Advanced Optical Devices

New Nanostructure Could Lead to Advanced Optical Devices

When a quantum dot (right) is placed next to it, the light scattering properties of a much larger gold nanoparticle (center) change. A polarized light shining on the nanoparticle generates an electric field (surrounding bands of color).

Physicists Xiaoqin "Elaine" Li, Gennady Shvets and their colleagues have been exploring new ways to manipulate light on the nanoscale. In a paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they describe work that could lead to better biological sensors and improved devices for optical communications and computing.

College Welcomes New Faculty in New Academic Year

College Welcomes New Faculty in New Academic Year

The College of Natural Sciences welcomes 11 new faculty this fall. Whether searching for evidence of exotic new physics, enabling the creation of personal robots, or addressing critical problems in cancer research, these industrious and innovative faculty members build on the college's reputation for pioneering research and research-based teaching.

Keck Foundation Awards $1.5 Million for New Method to Cool Atoms and for Student Research

Keck Foundation Awards $1.5 Million for New Method to Cool Atoms and for Student Research

Graduate student Erik Anciaux works on the “Ultra-Bright Atom Laser” project in the Raizen lab.

The W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded scientists at The University of Texas at Austin two grants totaling $1.5 million to develop a powerful, alternative method for cooling atoms and involve more undergraduate students in using new advanced technologies for research.

New Device Bends Light at Sharp Angles

New Device Bends Light at Sharp Angles

Most modern computers and communications devices use electrons to transmit and process information. But when they're crammed onto smaller and smaller devices, electrons become unruly, generating a lot of heat. Scientists have long dreamed of replacing electrons with particles of light called photons. Because photons don't generate much heat and move at light speed, computer chips could theoretically be made much smaller and faster than current chips.

Scientists Create New Tool to Study Emerging Materials for Spintronics

Scientists Create New Tool to Study Emerging Materials for Spintronics

As traditional electronics begin to reach their physical limits of compactness and speed, scientists and engineers are looking for new ways to stay on track with Moore's Law. One possible solution is to develop spintronics, devices that use a property of electrons known as spin to represent the 0's and 1's in computers. A class of materials called topological insulators (TIs) might have the right properties for spintronics, but since they were discovered less than a decade ago, scientists still know little about their properties.

In Memoriam: Physicist Peter Antoniewicz

In Memoriam: Physicist Peter Antoniewicz

We were saddened to hear that physicist Peter Antoniewicz died on June 14.Peter Roman Antoniewicz was born February 5, 1936, in Tarnów, a city in southeastern Poland. He and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1949. Antoniewicz received a Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University in 1965. His research focused on condensed matter physics...