Physics Innovators Initiative Scholars Selected!

Physics Innovators Initiative Scholars Selected!

Berkeley Physics is proud to announce the Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2) Scholars for Summer, 2021.

These undergraduates will have the opportunity to do research, learn to design the tools that enable such research, develop their scientific independence, and realize their potential as physicists. Each Pi2 scholar will work closely with dedicated graduate student and/or postdoc mentors on their projects. Pi2 Scholars will also participate in a number of activities with their cohorts which could include lectures, roundtable discussions, and hiking excursions. Final projects will require a written report and a poster presentation open to the whole department at the end of the summer. Meet our Pi2 Summer Scholars and their mentors below!


Gerardo Gutierrez and mentor Shannon Haley

Topological Spintronics
Symmetry and magnetism play a critical role in novel quantum technologies like spintronics. In this project, the student will be synthesizing new classes of monolayer materials, specializing in nanofabrication of quantum device prototypes.

Gerardo will work as part of the James Analytis group and will be mentored by graduate student Shannon Haley.


Ethan Ha and mentor Hsin-Zon Tsai

Ion diffusion in 2D devices
Mass transport is a fundamental cause of electronic device failure.  We aim to study, at nanoscale resolution, the physical mechanisms responsible for mass transport in devices.  This project will require the student to perform device fabrication, local probe characterization, and stochastic process analysis.

Ethan will work as part of the Michael Crommie group and will be mentored by postdoctoral researcher Hsin-Zon Tsai.


Jaden Hoechstetter and mentors Valeriu Scultelnic and John Beetar

Conical intersection dynamics
Dissociation and intersystem crossing involve ublquitous occurrences of curve or potential surface intersections, which can be observed with attosecond transient absorption, due to the very fast timescales possible. Clear signatures of crossings occur due to changes in symmetry. Experiments and theory are possible for students.

Jaden will work as part of the Stephen Leone group and will be mentored by postdoctoral fellow Valeriu Scutelnic and postdoctoral researcher John Beetar.


Kian Jansepar and mentor Canxun Zhang

Probing the Electronic Structure of Twisted Devices
By simply adding a twist between bilayers of two-dimensional honeycomb materials, such as graphene, a long-wavelength moiré superlattice potential reconstructs the low-energy band structure in a highly tunable manner. A recent example of this phenomenon – magic-angle twisted bilayer graphene (tBLG) – has been shown to tune from a correlated insulator to a superconductor by changing the carrier density with electrostatic back-gating. In this project, students will assist with the fabrication of twisted bilayer graphene field-effect transistors and assist with local probe characterization.

Kian will work as part of the Michael Crommie group and will be mentored by graduate student Canxun Zhang.


Shikai Qiu and mentor Ryan Roberts

Introducing Graph Neural Networks to ATLAS as a Performance Tool
Data analysis for the ATLAS experiment of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Between 2015 and 2018, the LHC has collected a large data sample, which is about 15 times the data set used for the discovery of the Higgs boson. Analyses of this large data sample may uncover hints of physics beyond the Standard Model. The student will learn about machine learning and statistical analysis techniques used in collider data analysis and contribute to a project that searches for Physics Beyond the Standard Model.

Shikai will work as part of the Haichen Wang group and will be mentored by graduate student Ryan Roberts.


Tobias Scott and mentor Cong Su

Preparing high-quality, freestanding hexagonal boron nitride as a platform of quantum emitters
Some materials display unusual quantum light emission when tickled by electrons or EM waves. The student will assist in the study of this phenomenon by creating tailored nanostructures and measuring their emission properties.

Tobias will work as part of the Alex Zettl group and will be mentored by Cong Su, 2019-2021 Heising-Simons Postdoctoral Fellow.


Aaron Torres and mentor Kenneth Vetter

Studies of vibrational noise in thermal particle detectors
Low-temperature thermal detectors are used in particle and nuclear physics to search for very rare phenomena. We are currently working to identify, characterize, and ultimately remove unwanted vibrational noise in our detectors. The goal of this project is to help characterize the noise with accelerometers and microphones and reduce it by both modifying our experimental setup and developing digital npise cancelation algorithms. This project will also involve designing low-temperature sensors to measure vibrational noise while operating at temperatures near absolute zero. In addition to learning about the physics of vibrations, by working on this project, you will learn many digital signal processing techniques and gain an understanding of low-temperature physics, both of which are important for high-sensitivity particle physics experiments!

Aaron will work as part of the Yury Kolomensky group and will be mentored by graduate student Kenneth Vetter.


Lely Tran and mentor Diego Novoa

Spectroscopy of Atomic Ruthenium
We have recently identified several transition-metal elements as being amenable to laser cooling. Among them is ruthenium, which is attractive because it allows for precise isotope-shift spectroscopy, has ultranarrow transitions that can be used for optical atomic clocks, and may be particularly easy to laser cool. The student will get us started exploring ruthenium spectroscopy by setting up a vapor cell and characterizing transitions suited for various scientific purposes.

Lely will work as part of the Dan Stamper-Kurn group and will be mentored by graduate student Diego Novoa.


Fanghui (Wendy) Wong and mentor, Nicola Maksimovic

Topological superconductivity
Topological superconductors are a novel class of superconductor thought to host exotic quasiparticles like Majorana fermions. Such materials could be relevant for fault-tolerant topological quantum information. In this project the student will work on the synthesis of new classes of candidate topological superconductors, calculating electronic structure and fabricating quantum devices using nanofabrication techniques.

Wendy will work as part of the James Analytis group and will be mentored by graduate student Nicola Maksimovic.


Ruoyi Yin and mentor James Ganor

Core Level Excitons in Solids
Attosecond four wave mixing in solids is used to determine core exciton dynamics and to reveal nominally dark excitons by multistep excitation and emission. Both calculations and experiments are possible for students. Work may be extended to carbon nanotubes and diamond.

Ruoyi will work as part of the Stephen Leone group and will be mentored by postdoctoral researcher James Gaynor.


Back to the Pi2 Summer Scholar overview