Fall 2010,  PHY 598 Graduate Seminar

AMO and Condensed Matter Physics


Meeting Days and Times: Instructors:
We 4:00-5:30 pm
Room S-141

Dominik Schneble, Office A-106, Office hours: tbd

Marivi Fernandez-Serra, Office B-141, Office hours: tbd

Yue Hao, BNL, Office hours: tbd

Seminar schedule:
September 1 September 8 September 15 September22
      Michael Spillane
September 29 October 6 October 13 October20
Yongky Utama Pin-Ju Tien Raul Santos Sanhueza Judith Gabel
Malte Dyckmanns Benjamin Bein Charlotte Mielke Rashad Simon
October 27 November 3 November10 November 17
Ahsan Ashraf Peter Sandor Colin West Thomas Fan
Angel Campoverde Daniel McNally Daniel Elton Kueifu Lai
November 24 [correction day] December 1 December 8
  Matthias Vogt    
  Humed Yusuf    

  • Pick a topic within the first week (list of topics: see below)
  • Write an abstract and distribute it (see below)
  • Give a 30-minute presentation on the day assigned
  • Hand in slides to Prof. Schneble within one week after your talk (must be in pdf format)
  • Attend all seminars
  • Talk (contents and form) and abstract: 85%
  • Attendance and activity (asking the speakers good questions, participating in discussions): 15%.


The purpose of this course is to give graduate students early in their career experience with the vital skill of giving professional talks. One very important aspect of this is to choose the level of your talk based upon your own level of knowledge and the level expected of your audience. As (mostly) first year graduate students, we expect that you are not at a level of preparation that you would have giving a talk at a professional conference.  You will be graded on content and presentation, but the grade on content is more on consistency and "absence of holes" than on the level per se (high school – college – graduate student – faculty – world expert). Do not include in your talk any material that you do not actually understand.

Rule of thumb: If you don't mention something in your talk, it is impolite for someone in the audience to ask you a question about it. Whatever you do mention in your talk is fair game for questions. If you mention something you do not understand, you are opening Pandora's Box and should expect to run into trouble. This happens all the time at professional meetings.

Your talk should be planned to take a total of 30 minutes. Ten more minutes will be used for questions and comments.   Make sure to rehearse your talk (several times!) so that you know your timing is right.  It is a cardinal sin of giving a talk to run over time.

We assume that you have access to an appropriate computer and ask that you use Powerpoint or some other electronic format, e.g., pdf, for showing slides on a computer projector. However, see the above warning on misuse of Powerpoint!

The computer projector will be available in the seminar room, B-131. To use it you should bring your own laptop computer, borrow one from a friend, or sign out one of the "loaner" laptop computers from Joe Feliciano or Frank Chin in the Instructional Lab Room, A-131, during normal working hours. You can practice your talk in the seminar room, B-131. You can also do it in the Graduate Student Lounge on the A level "bridge" between Physics and "Old Physics." A desktop computer is there permanently hooked up to a computer projector. It is not connected to the internet, so you must bring the file of your talk to it on, e.g., a memory stick or a CD. A pull-down projection screen is available for displaying the projected image.

You must make an appointment to meet with one of the instructors at least one week prior to the day you are scheduled to give your talk in class. At that meeting you will be expected to show a preliminary version of your talk to the instructor. Before that, you should already have given a (pre-)preliminary version of your talk to a trial audience, e.g., fellow students. The comments you get from both your trial audience and the instructor will be helpful for making changes before you give your talk "for real."

After your talk, your slides (convert into pdf) will be posted on the course webpage until the end of the semester.

List of topics:

The following topics are taken from the last two years of the News & Views section of Nature. Each is an active link to an overview article describing the general topic and giving a small number of references. You must decide how to craft from your chosen topic an understandable, interesting 30 minute talk that will be suitable for your fellow students in the class.  

A signup sheet will be posted on Prof. Schneble's office door, A-106. Within one week after the organizational meeting, fill in a topic number next to your name in the schedule, and cross out that topic on the list of topics. With permission of an instructor you may change your topic after signing up, but make sure to erase your name completely, so that somebody else wanting that topic may take it.

If your name is not already there, fill in your last name in one of the empty slots, but we will have no more than two talks per day. Choice of topics will be first come – first served.  Two students may not choose the same topic (note that some of the topics on the list may be closely related and therefore may count as the same)




  9/2008 1 Experimental physics: A shift in spectroscopy
    2 Quantum mechanics: Entangled families
    3 Photonics: Illumination for atomic movies
    not available Optics: Farewell to Flatland
    4 Solid-state physics: New order for magnetism
  10/2008 5 Solid-state physics: Recipe for spin currents
    6 Condensed-matter physics: Surviving the transition
    7 Condensed-matter physics: Borderline metals
  11/2008 8 Optics: Metamaterial Persian carpets
    9 Quantum physics: Swift control of a single spin
    10 Microscopy: A terahertz nanoscope
    11 Photonics: Nanomechanics gets the shakes
  12/2008 12 Quantum physics: Don't look now
    not available Condensed-matter physics: The eternal triangle
  1/2009 14 Quantum physics: Squeeze until it hurts
    15 Quantum physics: Quantum force turns repulsive
    16 Condensed-matter physics: Going with the flow
    17 Condensed-matter physics: The pnictide code
  2/2009 not available Solid-state physics: Electrons in the fast lane
    19 Quantum optics: A shift on a chip
    20 Quantum optics: A grip on entanglement
  3/2009 21 Condensed-matter physics: Carbon conductor corrupted
    22 Quantum optoelectronics: Swift switch of the strong
    23 Condensed-matter physics: Pressure for change in metals
  4/2009 not available Solid-state physics: Spin's lifetime extended
    25 Solid-state physics: Bouncing spins
    26 Solid-state physics: Lost magnetic moments
  5/2009 27 Quantum physics: Tailor-made quantum states
  6/2009 28 Quantum mechanics: Entanglement goes mechanical
    29 Condensed-matter physics: Coupled vibrations
  7/2009 30 Nanooptics: Photons pushed together
    31 Quantum information: Circuits that process with magic
    not available Photonics: Light control at will
    33 Optics: All smoke and metamaterials
  8/2009 34 Optics: Ultrafast X-ray photography
    35 Emergence of preformed Cooper pairs from the doped Mott insulating state in Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+
    36 The LCLS: X-ray laser pulses of unprecedented energy and brilliance produced at SLAC
    37 Creating Highly Useful Magnetic Nanoparticles in a Single Step
    38 Focusing Hard X-Rays using Kinoform Lenses for Nanoscale Material Studies
    39 Discovery of Surface Orbital Roughness in Manganites
  9/2009 40 Nanotechnology: A gentle jackhammer
  10/2009 41

Quantum information: Caught at the finishing line


Microscopy: Light from the dark


Quantum mechanics: Passage through chaos

    not available

Applied physics: Lasers go nano

    45 Optics: Droplets set light in a spin
  11/2009 46

Solid-state physics: Silicon spintronics warms up


Condensed-matter physics: Dirac electrons broken to pieces

  12/2009 48

Nanotechnology: Molecular transistors scrutinized


Microscopy: Photons and electrons team up

    50 Atomic physics: Neutral atoms put in charge

  1/2010 51

Quantum physics: Trapped ion set to quiver

    52 Materials science: Membrane magic
  2/2010 53 Quantum measurement: A light touch
    53 Low-temperature physics: Surprise in the strong regime
  3/2010 54 Materials science: Hydrocarbon superconductors
    55 Solid-state physics: Golden ratio seen in a magnet
    56 Spectroscopy: Expanding versatility
    57 Materials science: Reconfigurable colloids
  4/2010 58 Quantum mechanics: the surf is up
    59 Exotic matter: Another dimension for anyons
    60 Information science: Guaranteed randomness
    61 Quantum measurement: A condensate's main squeeze
    62 Quantum physics: Atoms in chequerboard order
  5/2010 63 Nonlinear dynamics: Optoelectronic chaos
  6/2010 64 Condensed-matter physics: The emergent and hidden unveiled
    65 Quantum physics: Frustrated trio mimicked
    66 Nonlinear dynamics: Chaotic billiard lasers
    67 Quantum optics: Single-atom transistor for light
    68 Condensed-matter physics: Single skyrmions spotted
  7/2010 69 Atomic physics: X-ray laser peels and core atoms
    70 Superconductivity: Revelations of the fullerenes
    71 Quantum electrodynamics: A chink in the armour?
    72 Solid-state physics: U-turns strictly prohibited
    73 Condensed-matter physics: Bringing the noise
  8/2010 74 Spectrocopy: Attosecond prints of electrons
    75 High-temperature superconductivity: The benefit of fractal dirt
    76 Condensed-matter physics: The dance of electrons and holes

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