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Yue Zhao receives Physics Innovation Award

The assistant professor of physics and astronomy won the award that supports extended visits between researchers to learn, develop, and share techniques or scientific approaches.

Written by Michele Swaner, advancement coordinator, Departments of Mathematics and Physics & Astronomy.

Yue Zhao, assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has received a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Fundamental Physics Innovation Award, in association with the American Physical Society. This award supports extended visits between researchers to learn, develop, and share techniques or scientific approaches.

The goal of the award is to stimulate ideas on innovative ways in which emerging technologies can be used to address pressing problems in the physics of fundamental particles and interactions. The rapid developments in quantum-sensing technologies keep pushing the limits of the precision frontier, and some of them provide ideal platforms to search for dark matter candidates.

A head shop of a Chinese male wearing glasses and a black T-shirt.

PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Crawley/College of Science

Yue Zao, assistant professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy

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“The award will allow me to collaborate with experimentalists,” said Zhao, “and investigate the possibilities of applying these fascinating technologies to search for dark matter candidates, especially in the ultralight mass regime, such as axions and dark photons. This award provides travel support for me to visit these experimental labs in order to exchange ideas and gain a more comprehensive understanding about the experimental setup.” He plans to visit a lab at Nanjing University in China.

Particle physics is a discipline within the field that studies the nature of the smallest detectable particles that make up matter and radiation. The Standard Model is the theory that explains what these particles are and how they interact with each other. It was developed by scientists during the 1970s. While the Standard Model explains a lot about the laws of physics, it isn’t able to explain all phenomena, including dark matter.

Zhao studied advanced physics at Peking University and moved to Rutgers University to pursue a Ph.D. He joined the University of Utah in July 2018.