Jeong Min Park earns 2024 Schmidt Science Fellowship

Physics graduate student Jeong Min (Jane) Park is among 32 exceptional early-career scientists worldwide selected to receive the prestigious 2024 Schmidt Science Fellows award.

As a 2024 Schmidt Science Fellow, Park’s postdoctoral work will seek to directly detect phases that could host new particles by using an instrument that can visualize phenomena at the subatomic scale.

Together with her advisor, Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, Park’s research at MIT focuses on discovering new quantum phases of matter.

“When there are many electrons in a material, their interactions can lead to collective behavior that is not expected from individual particles, known as emergent phenomena,” Park explains. “An example is superconductivity, where interacting electrons come together as a pair at low temperatures to conduct electricity without energy loss.”

During her PhD research, she investigated new types of superconductivity by designing new materials with directional interactions and topology. In particular, she used graphene, atomically thin two-dimensional layers of graphite, the same material as pencil lead, and turned it into a ‘magical’ material. This so-called magic angle-twisted three-layer graphene provided an extraordinarily strong form of superconductivity that is robust under high magnetic fields. She later discovered an entire ‘magical family’ of these materials, elucidating the key mechanisms behind superconductivity and interaction-driven phenomena. These results have provided a new platform to study emerging phenomena in two dimensions, which could lead to innovations in electronics and quantum technology.

Park says she is looking forward to her postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Princeton University physics professor Ali Yazdani.

“I am excited about the idea of ​​discovering and studying new quantum phenomena that could advance the understanding of fundamental physics,” says Park. “Having explored interaction-driven phenomena through the design of new materials, I now want to broaden my perspective and expertise to answer a different kind of question, by combining my background in materials design with the advanced local-scale measurements I will perform. adopt during my postdoc.”

She explains that elementary particles are classified as bosons or fermions, with contrasting behavior when exchanging two identical particles, known as exchange statistics; bosons remain unchanged, while fermions receive a minus sign in their quantum wave function.

Theories predict the existence of fundamentally different particles, known as non-abelian anyons, whose wave functions braid upon particle exchange. Such a braiding process could be used to encode and store information, potentially opening the door to fault-tolerant quantum computing in the future.

Since 2018, this prestigious postgraduate program has sought to break down silos between scientific fields to solve the world’s biggest challenges and support future leaders in STEM.

Schmidt Science Fellows, an initiative of Schmidt Sciences, delivered in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, identifies, develops and strengthens the next generation of science leaders, by building a community of scientists and supporters of interdisciplinary science and leveraging this network to drive sector broad change. The 2024 fellows consist of 17 nationalities from North America, Europe and Asia.

Shortlisted candidates undergo a rigorous selection process that includes a paper-based academic assessment with panels of experts in their home disciplines and final interviews with panels including senior representatives from many scientific disciplines and various business sectors.

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