Public Lecture: Celebration of 2018 Physics Nobel Prize: Lighting the way with microscopic tractor beams and sculpted laser pulse

Public Lecture: Celebration of 2018 Physics Nobel Prize: Lighting the way with microscopic tractor beams and sculpted laser pulse


October 23, 2018 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm


Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons




Georgia Institute of Technology

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The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics recognizes two breakthrough inventions in laser physics.  The first, optical tweezers, allows scientist and engineers to use lasers like the tractor beams of Star Trek to manipulate everything from molecules to living cells.  Optical tweezers have provided researchers with fingers in the microscopic world that can pull apart DNA, probe the mechanics of life, detect disease and study fundamental interactions in biology, physics, chemistry and engineering. The second breakthrough, chirped pulse amplification, enabled the construction of lasers of incredible power and precision.  With the super-high power lasers came cutting-edge applications as diverse as attosecond time-resolved dynamics of atoms and molecules and laser eye surgery. In this public talk, Georgia Tech professors Jennifer Curtis and Chandra Raman will present a brief history of these discoveries and discuss their impacts on science and society, with an audience Q&A session afterwards.

About the Speakers

The Curtis lab, managed by Dr. Jennifer Curtis, is primarily focused on the physics of cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions, in particular within the context of glycobiology and immunobiology. Our newest projects focus on questions of collective and single cell migration in vitro and in vivo; immunophage therapy "an immunoengineering approach - that uses combined defense of immune cells plus viruses (phage) to overcome bacterial infections"; and the study of the molecular biophysics and biomaterials applications of the incredible enzyme, hyaluronan synthase.

A few common scientific themes emerge frequently in our projects: biophysics at interfaces, the use of quantitative modeling, collective interactions of cells and/or molecules, cell mechanics, cell motility and adhesion, and in many cases, the role of bulky sugars in facilitating cell integration and rearrangements in tissues.

Dr. Chandra Raman's group investigates macroscopic quantum mechanics using ultralow temperature gases—laser cooled clouds of atoms suspended inside a vacuum chamber at temperatures less than one millionth of a degree above absolute zero. We explore topics ranging from superfluidity in Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) to quantum antiferromagnetism in a spinor condensate. Our goal is to use advanced atomic experimental techniques to illuminate contemporary phenomena in condensed matter physics, particularly in correlated quantum systems. Apart from fundamental studies, we are seeking to build cutting edge sensors that exploit the quantum properties of ultracold gases.

About The Frontiers in Science Lecture Series
Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talks for nonexpert audiences.