News and Events

Thumbnail of Stargate Milky Way
There is a huge gate of stars in the sky, and you pass through it twice a day. The stargate is actually our Milky Way Galaxy, and it is the spin of the Earth that appears to propel you through it. More typically, the central band of our Milky Way appears as a faint band stretching across the sky, only visible in away from bright city lights. In a long-exposure wide-angle image from a dark location like this, though, the Milky Way's central plane is easily visible. The featured picture is a digital composite involving multiple exposures taken on the same night and with the same camera, but employing a stereographic projection that causes the Milky Way to appear as a giant circular portal. Inside the stargate-like arc of our Galaxy is a faint stripe called zodiacal light -- sunlight reflected by dust in our Solar System. In the foreground are cacti and dry rocks found in the rough terrain of the high desert of Chile, not far from the El Sauce Observatory and the developing Vera Rubin Observatory, the latter expected to begin routine operations in 2024.
Mount Timpanogos with sky above
Check current conditions and historical weather data at the ESC.
Image for Mystery of Haumea's Formation Solved
BYU Physics and Astronomy student Benjamin Proudfoot recently published research in the prestigious journal Nature Communications that solves the mystery of the icy dwarf planet Haumea's formation.
Image for Capturing Images at the New Mexico Observatory
Students and faculty from theBYU Astronomy and Physics department captured images from space at an observatory in New Mexico to research explaining the evolution of the universe.

Selected Publications

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BYU Authors: Basu R. Aryal, Dulashani R. Ranasinghe, Chao Pang, Asami E. F. Ehlert, Tyler R. Westover, John N. Harb, Robert C. Davis, and Adam T. Woolley, published in ACS Appl. Nano Mater.

DNA origami-assembled metal–semiconductor junctions have been formed as a step toward application of these nanomaterials in nanoelectronics. Previously, techniques such as electroless plating, electrochemical deposition, or photochemical reduction have been used to connect metal and semiconductor nanomaterials into desired patterns on DNA templates. To improve over prior work and provide a more general framework for the creation of electronic nanodevices as an alternative nanofabrication step, we have developed a method to connect gold (Au) and tellurium (Te) nanorods on a single DNA origami template without electroplating by annealing after coating with a heat-resistant polymer. Bar DNA origami templates (17 nm × 410 nm) were seeded site-specifically with Au and Te nanorods in an alternating manner. These templates were then coated with a polymer and annealed at different temperatures. At 170 °C, the Au and Te nanorods were best connected, and we hypothesize that the junctions were established primarily due to the atomic mobility of gold. Electrical characterization of these Au/Te/Au assemblies revealed some nonlinear current–voltage curves, as well as linear plots that are explained. This annealing method and the metal–semiconductor nanomaterials that are formed simply through controlled seeding and annealing on DNA origami templates have potential to yield complex nanoelectronic devices in the future.

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BYU Authors: Wendy M. Billings and Dennis Della Corte, published in Proteins: Struct., Funct., Bioinf.

CASP (Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction) is an organization aimed at advancing the state of the art in computing protein structure from sequence. In the spring of 2020, CASP launched a community project to compute the structures of the most structurally challenging proteins coded for in the SARS-CoV2 genome. Forty-seven research groups submitted over 3000 three-dimensional models and 700 sets of accuracy estimates on ten proteins. The resulting models were released to the public. CASP community members also worked together to provide estimates of local and global accuracy and identify structure-based domain boundaries for some proteins. Subsequently, two of these structures (ORF3a and ORF8) have been solved experimentally, allowing assessment of both model quality and the accuracy estimates. Models from the AlphaFold2 group were found to have good agreement with the experimental structures, with main chain GDT_TS accuracy scores ranging from 63 (a correct topology) to 87 (competitive with experiment).

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BYU Authors: M. Berrondo, published in Phys. Lett. A

Introducing a Kerr medium in a cavity coupled to a harmonically moving mirror, we reproduce known and solvable interactions such as two-coupled harmonic oscillators and ion-laser like interactions for specific conditions. This is achieved by a unitary transformation allowing us to tune off the Kerr medium in order to simplify the Hamiltonian.