News: Research


Lasers, 3D printing reveal how the ground shakes following earthquakes

May 23, 2022

Prof. Sunyoung Park shows layers that shift in earthquakes and a 3-D printed metal model of the basin under Los Angeles

An innovative technique led by Asst. Prof. Sunyoung Park, Dept. of the Geophysical Sciences, uses 3D printing and lasers to help improve our knowledge of what happens during ground shaking, and how different formations and layers beneath the ground lessen or increase damage in earthquakes.

New study lays out hidden backstory behind deadly Pacific Northwest heat wave

May 17, 2022

Air temperature anomaly map, western half of US during a heat wave

By reviewing large-scale weather conditions and formations before the June 2021 Pacific Northwest heat wave, University of Chicago scientists, including College student first author, Emily Neal, discovered that a cyclone spawned an “anticyclone,” which combined to produce and then trap heat near the surface of the region.

Associate Administrator of NASA Science Mission Directorate visits PSD

May 17, 2022

Abigail Vieregg, Thomas Zubuchen, Angela Olinto

Last week, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA Science Mission Directorate, visited the Physical Sciences Division to tour facilities and meet with faculty, students, and UChicago leaders.

Video: how to “photograph” a black hole

May 12, 2022

Image of black hole Sagittarius A*--a fiery donut with black spot in middle. Image has a play button on top to indicate it is a video.

Understanding Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, could help us understand how the Milky Way formed, as well as the strange physics that happen in and near black holes. In this video, University of Chicago Profs. John Carlstrom and Daniel Holz explain what it takes to “photograph” a black hole and what mysteries remain about black holes.

Astronomers reveal first image of the black hole at the heart of our galaxy

May 12, 2022

Donut shaped fiery ring with black center--first image of Sagittarius A*

Astronomers have unveiled the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. This result provides overwhelming evidence that the object is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such giants, which are thought to reside at the centre of most galaxies. The image was produced by a global research team called the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, using observations from a worldwide network of radio telescopes including the University of Chicago-affiliated South Pole Telescope.

Mapping the digital divide: Data reveals internet inequities across the country

May 10, 2022

A view of Chicago from above overlaid with vectors and numbers to suggest the internet

At UChicago’s inaugural Data Science Institute Summit on May 9, the initiative unveiled a new data portal that combines public and private data from 20 cities around the nation. The website makes data accessible to governments, community groups, data scientists and other interested stakeholders seeking to improve internet connectivity to mitigate the “digital divide.”

The quest for an ideal quantum bit

May 9, 2022

A new qubit platform: Electrons from a heated light filament (top) land on solid neon (red block), where a single electron (represented as a wave function in blue) is trapped and manipulated by a superconducting quantum circuit (bottom patterned chip).

A team including Prof. David Schuster of the Dept. of Physics has announced the creation of a new qubit platform formed by freezing neon gas into a solid at very low temperatures, spraying electrons from a light bulb’s filament onto the solid, and trapping a single electron there. This system, developed at Argonne, shows great promise to be developed into ideal building blocks for future quantum computers.

Deep disparities in internet access found across Chicago in new analysis

May 9, 2022

Percentages of Chicago households with internet access, by community area, according to data from the American Community Survey (2015–2019) and the city of Chicago data portal.

Citywide, about 80% of households have internet access, but researchers with the University of Chicago’s Internet Equity Initiative led by Prof. Nick Feamster said there is a nearly 40 percentage-point difference between certain neighborhoods.

Shut the Sash: Behavior awareness program impacts campus sustainability

May 5, 2022

James Passolano

The UChicago PSD has expanded a program dedicated to addressing energy use reduction throughout all facilities that have chemical fume hoods. The behavior of lowering the sash after the experiment ends, and especially when the lab closes for the night, has proven to be a tipping point on energy usage that has launched a major culture shift in the PSD. 

UChicago scientists uncover clues to mysterious but crucial genetic process

May 5, 2022

Bottles from a biochemistry lab

Chemist Prof. Chuan He has published results that shed light on a previously unknown pathway of genetic regulation, indicating new research directions to understand the fundamental processes of mammalian development—and could suggest avenues of treatments for disease or other biotechnology.

Five UChicago faculty elected to National Academy of Sciences in 2022

May 4, 2022

Three faculty members of the Physical Sciences Division and the Executive Vice President for Science, Innovation, National Laboratories, and Global Initiatives, Prof. Juan de Pablo, are among the 120 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year. The PSD faculty include Prof. Joshua Frieman of Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chair and Professor Young-Kee Kim of Dept. of Physics, and Prof. Andrei Tokmakoff of Dept. of Chemistry.

Computer simulations hold the key to understanding some of the world’s deadliest viruses

May 3, 2022

Greg Voth

Using complex “multiscale” computer simulations modeling viruses, Prof. Greg Voth and his team modeled the properties in the disassembly process that causes the capsid surrounding an HIV virus to rupture as well as how SARS-CoV-2 binds and enters cells. 

A new technique to delete single atoms can speed up molecule design

May 2, 2022

Asst. Prof. Mark Levin (left) and Ph.D. student Jisoo Woo at work in the laboratory at the University of Chicago.

A new technique published by University of Chicago chemists and the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. allows scientists to quickly and easily produce new molecules of interest, to accelerate discovery by reducing the time and energy that goes into molecule design process.

Fermilab engineers develop new control electronics for quantum computers that improve performance, cut costs

May 2, 2022

A masked man holds an electronics board

Physics professor David Schuster led the University’s lab that helped with the specifications and verification on real hardware for a new system of control and readout electronics, known as Quantum Instrumentation Control Kit, or QICK. Developed with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, it has proved to drastically improve quantum computer performance while cutting the cost of control equipment.

This VR system turns you into an NPC by moving your muscles for you

May 2, 2022

Wearable system setup showing nodes prompting head movement

Yudai Tanaka, Pedro Lopes, and Jun Nishida of the Department of Computer Science are creating ways for virtual reality experiences to become more tactile. In a recent paper, they describe a system which uses electrical stimulation to control head movements of players in a VR environment.