School of Humanities and Sciences
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Wells Family Director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics and Professor of Physics
BioProfessor Silverstein conducts research in theoretical physics -- particularly gravitation and cosmology, as well as recently developing new methods and applications for machine learning.
What are the basic degrees of freedom and interactions underlying gravitational and particle physics? What is the mechanism behind the initial seeds of structure in the universe, and how can we test it using cosmological observations? Is there a holographic framework for cosmology that applies throughout the history of the universe, accounting for the emergent effects of horizons and singularities? What new phenomena arise in quantum field theory in generic conditions such as finite density, temperature, or in time dependent backgrounds?
Professor Silverstein attacks basic problems in several areas of theoretical physics. She develops concrete and testable mechanisms for cosmic inflation, accounting for its sensitivity to very high energy physics. This has led to a fruitful interface with cosmic microwave background research, contributing to a more systematic analysis of its observable phenomenology.
Professor Silverstein also develops mechanisms for stabilizing the extra dimensions of string theory to model the accelerated expansion of the universe. In addition, Professor Silverstein develops methods to address questions of quantum gravity, such as singularity resolution and the physics of black hole and cosmological horizons.
Areas of focus:
- optimization algorithms derived from physical dynamics, analyzing its behavior and advantages theoretically and in numerical experiments
- UV complete mechanisms and systematics of cosmic inflation, including string-theoretic versions of large-field inflation (with gravity wave CMB signatures) and novel mechanisms involving inflaton interactions (with non-Gaussian signatures in the CMB)
-Systematic theory and analysis of primordial Non-Gaussianity, taking into account strongly non-linear effects in quantum field theory encoded in multi-point correlation functions
-Long-range interactions in string theory and implications for black hole physics
- Concrete holographic models of de Sitter expansion in string theory, aimed at upgrading the AdS/CFT correspondence to cosmology
- Mechanisms for non-Fermi liquid transport and $2k_F$ singularities from strongly coupled finite density quantum field theory
- Mechanisms by which the extra degrees of freedom in string theory induce transitions and duality symmetries between spaces of different topology and dimensionality
Associate Professor of Physics and Applied Physics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsJon's group focuses on exploring synthetic quantum matter using the unique tools available through quantum and classical optics. We typically think of photons as non-interacting, wave-like particles. By harnessing recent innovations in Rydberg-cavity- and circuit- quantum electrodynamics, the Simonlab is able to make photons interact strongly with one another, mimicking collisions between charged electrons. By confining these photons in ultra-low-loss metamaterial structures, the teams "teach" the photons to behave as though they have mass, are in traps, and are experiencing magnetic fields, all by using the structures to tailor the optical dispersion. In total, this provides a unique platform to explore everything from Weyl-semi-metals, to fractional quantum hall puddles, to Mott insulators and quantum dots, all made of light.
The new tools developed in this endeavor, from twisted fabry-perot resonators, to Rydberg atom ensembles, Floquet-modulated atoms, and coupled cavity optical mode converters, have broad applications in information processing and communication. Indeed, we are now commissioning a new experiment aimed at interconverting optical and mm-wave photons using Rydberg atoms inside of crossed optical and superconducting millimeter resonators as the transducer.
Professor of Biology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsPlanar cell polarity, cell shape and mobility, and control of cell fate
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsCholesterol in biological membranes; genetic mechanisms & cholesterol production
Professor of Biology and, by courtesy, of Chemical and Systems Biology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy overarching goal is to understand how cell growth triggers cell division. Linking growth to division is important because it allows cells to maintain specific size range to best perform their physiological functions. For example, red blood cells must be small enough to flow through small capillaries, whereas macrophages must be large enough to engulf pathogens. In addition to being important for normal cell and tissue physiology, the link between growth and division is misregulated in cancer.
Professor (Research) of Physics, Emeritus
BioTodd received his PhD from Rice University. He acted as an assistant professor of physics and electrical engineering, senior research physicist, and professor of physics. Research interests include experimental accelerator physics, laser physics, and superconductivity. His specialty is free electron lasers.