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Department of Physics and Astronomy


The lectures feature speakers from around the country. Each colloquium lasts about an hour and gives you a deeper understanding of the types of physics and astronomy researching going on around the world. 

November and October

NOV. 16 - The Dark Energy of Condensed Matter Physics: High-Temperature Superconductivity


5:30-7 p.m.

Dr. Laura H. Greene
President of the American Physical Society
Chief Scientist, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
Francis Eppes Professor of Physics, Florida State University

Abstract: Superconductivity is a fascinating quantum mechanical phenomenon, which, at low temperatures, allows transmission of electrical power with no loss, magnetic levitation, and other intriguing phenomena. Conventional superconductivity was discovered in 1911, but was not solved until 1957. High-temperature superconductivity, discovered in 1986, is only one family in the dozens of families of unconventional superconductors discovered in 1979 (original theory dates back to 1952); which remain, surprisingly, unsolved. Including some demos, I will define what a superconductor is, what "solved" means, describe some of the bizarre behavior of electrons in unconventional superconductors, and the analogy in my title.

OCT 26 - DC Power Now: Better High Frequency Makes Zero Frequency The Best Choice

4 to 5:15 p.m.

Dr. Roger A. Dougal
Department Chair, Electrical Engineering
Carolina Distinguished Professor
College of Engineering and Computing
University of South Carolina

Our electric power grid -- "The world's most complex machine" -- is saddled by its archaic origins. Our 60 Hz power frequency was chosen as a compromise between the size and efficiency of the system and its components. But, today, electric power conversion permits voltage shifting at arbitrary frequencies, or even the creation of arbitrary voltage or current waveforms. The increasingly high switching frequencies of electronic power converters reduces the sizes and weights of components and uses fewer natural resources. Thus, paradoxical as it may sound, the distribution and use of power at zero frequency has now become more attractive than ever due to the increasing success of high frequency power electronics. This colloquium will rationalize, from a physics standpoint, the not-so-distant transition to DC power that will start with DC microgrids at the edge of the AC grid.