Marker Lectures in the Physical Sciences scheduled for March 26 to 28

David Awschalom, Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in the Physical Sciences on March 26, 27, and 28 on the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science. The series includes a lecture intended for a general audience, titled "Engaging Diamonds in the Quantum Age," at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, in 100 Life Sciences Building, with light refreshments following the talk

In the lecture, Awschalom will discuss the remarkable development of semiconductor spintronics, a burgeoning area of research that aims to enable fundamentally new information technologies based on a quantum property of the electron known as "spin." Research at the frontiers of this field includes efforts to orient and manipulate individual electron spins in nanometer-scale structures. These developments have sweeping technological implications ranging from secure data encryption to radical improvements in computation speed and complexity. The talk will describe advances toward these goals, including the surprising recent discovery that diamond -- a material that has been available for generations -- has the ability to control the atomic-scale spins that will be important for emerging information technologies in communication and computation.

Awschalom also will present two additional, more-specialized lectures, titled "Beyond Electronics: Abandoning Perfection for Quantum Technologies," at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, in 117 Osmond Laboratory; and "Ultrafast Quantum Control of Single Electron Orbital and Spin Dynamics in Diamond," at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 28, in 320 Whitmore Laboratory.

Awschalom is a pioneer in the field of spintronics and quantum information engineering, and is credited with several fundamental discoveries at the intersecting frontiers of photonics, electronics, and semiconductor-based quantum information processing. He has developed innovative experimental techniques for exploiting the coherent dynamics of spin of electrons and nuclei for advanced computing, medical imaging, encryption, and other technologies.

Awschalom is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the European Academy of Sciences. Has received many other honors, including the International Magnetism Prize and NĂ©el Medal from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics in 2003, the Oliver E. Buckley Prize from the American Physical Society in 2005, the Agilent Europhysics Prize from the European Physical Society in 2005, the Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006, and the David Turnbull Award from the Materials Research Society in 2010. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society.

Awschalom graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor of science degree in physics and he received a doctoral degree in physics from Cornell University. After working at the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York as a member of the research staff and as manager of the Nonequilibrium Physics Department, he was professor of physics and electrical/computer engineering at the University of California-Santa Barbara, where he also served as the Peter J. Clarke Director of the California NanoSystems Institute. In 2013, he joined the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago as Liew Family Professor.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences, and physics. For more information about the 2014 Russell Marker Lectures in the Physical Sciences, contact Julianne Mortimore at

Last Updated March 20, 2014