Workshop on Recent Trends in Physics

April 26, 2011
School of Arts & Sciences, Amritapuri

Nonlinear Dynamics. Nonlinear Optics. Liquid Crystals. Quantum Computing. Statistical Mechanics. Bose-Einstein Condensation of Photons. Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Physics workshopOver 100 delegates including graduate students from Amrita and several other colleges learned about these and related topics in a workshop on Recent Trends in Physics.

The workshop was organized by the Department of Physics, Amrita School of Arts and Sciences at the Amritapuri campus during March 23-25, 2011.

It was sponsored by the Joint Science Education Program of three Academies of Science in India viz. Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad and Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.

The inaugural function got underway with Dr. V. M. Nandakumaran, HoD of Physics at Amritapuri, warmly welcoming all delegates and Prof. M. Lakshmanan, Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics, Bharathidasan University delivering a brief introductory address.

Emphasizing India’s recent economic growth and scientific achievements, Prof. Lakshmanan pointed out that the young generation would see enormous opportunities in the near future.

Lecture class

An enlightening lecture on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology followed, by Prof. M. R. Anantharaman, Department of Physics, CUSAT, wherein he noted that the present century belonged to the BRIC countries.

Quoting the words of Eiji Kobayashi, the senior advisor of Panasonic Corporation, he said, “Those who control materials, control technology.”

Speaking about low-dimensional systems and their general properties, he showcased interesting results involving ferromagnetic-ferroelectric interfaces and the effect of electric and magnetic fields on these systems. “A reduced dimension determines the property of the material,” he said.

Lecture class

Speaking next, Prof. K. A. Suresh, from the Centre for Soft Matter Research, Bangalore, elaborated on the physics of liquid crystals. After providing a general survey of soft matter in general and liquid crystals in particular, he discussed the structural, thermal, optical, electrical and magnetic properties of different types of liquid crystals in detail.

Prof. Suresh also spoke about polymer liquid crystals that combine the properties of liquid crystals and polymers.

On a different note, Prof. Lakshmanan, who also spoke at the inauguration earlier, informed delegates about Nonlinear Dynamics: A Science of Complexity. Beginning with Newton’s laws, he moved to conceptual developments in dynamics, covering a wide range of topics such as solitons, propagation of tsunamis, inverse scattering transforms, chaos, synchronization of chaotic systems, nonlinear MLC circuits and neural networks.

Lecture class

Next, Dr. Anil Shaji of IISER, Thiruvananthapuram, delivered lectures on Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computation, expounding on the notions of classical and quantum information, quantum logic, computational complexity, quantum circuits and quantum gates.

Finally, the speaker from the host campus, Dr. V. M. Nandakumaran, shared his remarkable knowledge about the Bose-Einstein Condensation of Photons.

“It is generally believed that photons cannot Bose condense since it is not a number conserving system,” he said. “Recently however, BEC has been observed for photons confined to a spherical micro-resonator filled with dyes.”

Lecture class

“The conservation of photon number on an average is achieved due to the presence of the dye molecule,” he added.

Other guest speakers who spoke, included Prof. V.P.N. Nampoothiri, International School of Photonics, CUSAT and Prof. E. S. Rajagopal, IISc, Bangalore.

“The lectures were planned in such a way that delegates were gradually led from the fundamentals to the frontier areas in each of the topics,” Dr. Nandakumaran noted.

Lecture class

“As a student, the workshop was very enlightening for me,” shared final-year student of Integrated M.Sc. (Maths & Physics), Apoorv Chaithanya N. “I am excited to have attended and traveled in the world of physics these three days.”

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