Speaker Bio and Abstract


Brian R. D'Urso
Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of Pittsburgh
100 Allen Hall
3941 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Seminar Title

“Quantum Nanomechanics: from Graphene to Flying Frogs"


We set out to engineer and study a mechanical system in which classical mechanics breaks down, and quantum mechanics must be used to understand the behavior. Our present system consists of a silica or diamond particle levitated in ultra-high vacuum. The particle is trapped in a magnetic field gradient created by permanent magnets and ferromagnetic pole pieces using the weak diamagnetism in these particles. The weak trapping forces result in low mechanical oscillation frequencies and exceptionally high sensitivity to external forces. With feedback, the mechanical motion can be cooled by several orders of magnitude, potentially reaching the quantum regime. With trapped diamond nanocrystals containing nitrogen-vacancy centers, the system may be a nearly ideal platform for experiments in quantum nanomechanics. The extreme sensitivity to external forces also makes it a promising system for a new measurement of the Newtonian gravitational constant.

Speaker Bio

Brian R. D'Urso received his Ph.D. in Physics in 2003 from Harvard University, where his work contributed to a new measurement of the electron g-factor, which currently provides the most accurate measurement of the fine structure constant. He went to Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a Wigner Fellow in 2003, and remained as a member of the ORNL Research Staff and then Senior Research Staff until 2008, where he lead a team developing nanostructured materials and novel fabrication techniques. In 2009, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh while remaining a joint faculty member at ORNL.

The research in the D'Urso group spans quantum nanomechanics, graphene and other twodimensional materials and their applications, superhydrophobic nanostructured materials and measurements in fluid dynamics, and open scientific instruments and physics education and and in instructional laboratories for undergraduates.

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The Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) is an internationally distinguished department that is recognized for its globally competitive excellence in engineering and scientific accomplishments, research, and educational leadership.

Our Engineering Science program is the official undergraduate honors program of the College of Engineering, attracting the University’s brightest engineering students. We also offer graduate degrees in ESM, engineering mechanics, engineering at the nano-scale, and an integrated undergraduate/graduate program.

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