Spring 2010,  PHY 598 Graduate Seminar

AMO and Condensed Matter Physics


Meeting Days and Times: Instructors:
Wednesday 2:20-4:20
Room B-131
Xu Du, Office: B-103, Office hours: tbd
Dominik Schneble, Office A-106, Office hours: tbd
Todd Satogata, BNL, Office hours tbd; Phone: 631 807 0674

Seminar schedule:
January 27 February 3 February 10 February 17
February 24 March 3 March 10 March 17
March 24 March 31 [SPRING RECESS] April 7 April 14
April 21 April 28 May 5

  • 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)




  1/2008 not available Optics: Watch your back
    2 Magnetism: Freedom for the poles
    not available Physics: The force of fluctuations
    4 Solid-state physics: Join the dots
    5 Optics: Against the spread of the light
    6 Device physics: Nanowires' display of potential
  2&3/2008 7 Quantum physics: Tangled memories
    not available Quantum physics: Disturbance without the force
  4/2008 not available Condensed-matter physics: Opposite of a superconductor
    10 Quantum physics: Observations turn up the heat
    11 Quantum physics: Debut of the quarter electron
    12 Optics: Light reined in
  5/2008 13 Quantum physics: The squeeze goes on
    14 Quantum information: Stopping the rot
    15 Quantum information: An integrated light circuit
    16 Solid-state physics: Polaritronics in view
  6/2008 17 Attosecond physics: An easier route to high harmony
    not available Condensed-matter physics: Paralysed by disorder
    19 Superconductivity: Prospecting for an iron age
    20 Insight: Quantum coherence
  7&8/2008 21 Quantum mechanics: The speed of instantly
    22 Materials science: A metal left spinning
    23 Condensed-matter physics: Dual realities in superconductors
  9/2008 39 Experimental physics: A shift in spectroscopy
    40 Quantum mechanics: Entangled families
    41 Photonics: Illumination for atomic movies
    not available Optics: Farewell to Flatland
    43 Solid-state physics: New order for magnetism
  10/2008 44 Solid-state physics: Recipe for spin currents
    45 Condensed-matter physics: Surviving the transition
    46 Condensed-matter physics: Borderline metals
  11/2008 47 Optics: Metamaterial Persian carpets
    48 Quantum physics: Swift control of a single spin
    49 Microscopy: A terahertz nanoscope
    50 Photonics: Nanomechanics gets the shakes
  12/2008 51 Quantum physics: Don't look now
    not available Condensed-matter physics: The eternal triangle
  1/2009 53 Quantum physics: Squeeze until it hurts
    54 Quantum physics: Quantum force turns repulsive
    55 Condensed-matter physics: Going with the flow
    56 Condensed-matter physics: The pnictide code
  2/2009 not available Solid-state physics: Electrons in the fast lane
    58 Quantum optics: A shift on a chip
    59 Quantum optics: A grip on entanglement
  3/2009 60 Condensed-matter physics: Carbon conductor corrupted
    61 Quantum optoelectronics: Swift switch of the strong
    62 Condensed-matter physics: Pressure for change in metals
  4/2009 63 Solid-state physics: Spin's lifetime extended
    64 Solid-state physics: Bouncing spins
    65 Solid-state physics: Lost magnetic moments
  5/2009 66 Quantum physics: Tailor-made quantum states
  6/2009 67 Quantum mechanics: Entanglement goes mechanical
    68 Condensed-matter physics: Coupled vibrations
  7/2009 69 Nanooptics: Photons pushed together
    70 Quantum information: Circuits that process with magic
    not available Photonics: Light control at will
    72 Optics: All smoke and metamaterials
  8/2009 73 Optics: Ultrafast X-ray photography
    74 Emergence of preformed Cooper pairs from the doped Mott insulating state in Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+
    75 The LCLS: X-ray laser pulses of unprecedented energy and brilliance produced at SLAC
    76 Creating Highly Useful Magnetic Nanoparticles in a Single Step
    77 Focusing Hard X-Rays using Kinoform Lenses for Nanoscale Material Studies
    78 Discovery of Surface Orbital Roughness in Manganites
  9/2009 79 Nanotechnology: A gentle jackhammer
  10/2009 80

Quantum information: Caught at the finishing line


Microscopy: Light from the dark


Quantum mechanics: Passage through chaos


Applied physics: Lasers go nano

    84 Optics: Droplets set light in a spin
  11/2009 85

Solid-state physics: Silicon spintronics warms up


Condensed-matter physics: Dirac electrons broken to pieces

  12/2009 87

Nanotechnology: Molecular transistors scrutinized


Microscopy: Photons and electrons team up

    89 Atomic physics: Neutral atoms put in charge

  1/2010 90

Quantum physics: Trapped ion set to quiver


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