Latest news

First-ever 3D atomic imaging of an amorphous solid

A UCLA study led by Jianwei “John” Miao, professor of physics and astronomy, announces the first depiction of the 3D atomic structure of an amorphous solid. Miao’s research will provide higher levels of precision when working with amorphous solids. Understanding their atomic structure will help engineers create better versions of appliances and begin to apply them at a larger scale.

In order to determine the 3D atomic structure of an amorphous solid, Miao and his colleagues used electron tomography images of a material —  metallic glass. When stitched together, the images created a 3D map of approximately 18,000 atoms that make up the nanoparticle. Scientists previously believed the solid’s arrangement of atoms are completely random, but they discovered some atoms in ordered clusters.

This groundbreaking research resulted from scientists in different disciplines working together.

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How building layouts affect an urban area’s air pollution

Suzanne Paulson, chair of the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic sciences, has co-authored a UCLA air quality study explaining the impact of building layouts in urban areas. The study simulated the effect that wind blowing through different building layouts would have on the flow of air pollution.

Paulson says, “It turns out that the most important factor for determining how severe street level pollution will be is whether there is space between buildings.” Open spaces around buildings allow air to circulate and clear up. The study found that pollution levels are highest at street-level and lowest in a checkerboard pattern.

Paulson’s research can help urban planners arrange buildings in a fashion that help air pollution circulation.

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California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA makes hands-on STEM learning accessible

California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA has changed its outreach programs during the pandemic in order to continue educational events. CNSI has held exciting nanoscience programs for students and teachers to allow them to learn more through experiments. Due to the pandemic, CNSI has transitioned some of their programs such as, “Applications of Nanoscience,” online.

Sarah Tolbert, faculty education director at CNSI and a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Rita Blaik, director of education at CNSI worked together to create experiments that could be safely recreated by students at home. They created video tutorials and provided teachers with supplies to carry out experiments. The online transition has showed CNSI that learning about nanoscience can be made more accessible to a wider audience.

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Catch up on ground-breaking research by our Physical Sciences faculty

Learn more about the work that the UCLA Physical Sciences department has been sharing with the community. Listen to how our faculty is continuing the fight against COVID-19, the impacts of quantum physics on our world, and more. Click here for more information.


Updates on COVID-19 from UCLA

The Division of Physical Sciences is working to provide faculty, students, and families with the most helpful resources and information during this time.

Click here for updates from the Division, the UCLA Newsroom, and the Daily Bruin.

Remote Teaching, Learning, and Wellness Resources

UCLA Physical Sciences Remote Learning Resource Page

Science and technology have never been more critical. UCLA and the Division of Physical Sciences are working hard to offer as many tools and helpful connections for our students and faculty to ensure the level of educational excellence for which UCLA is known.

Click here for our online resource page, which will be continually updated as new services and initiatives are announced.

Alumni Spotlight: Jiaxing Huang to develop self-sanitizing medical face mask

Alumnus Jiaxing Huang received funding to develop a new-self sanitizing medical face mask that deactivates viruses on contact. Huang’s team will investigate antiviral chemicals that can be safely built into masks to self-sanitize the passing respiratory droplets.

Huang a professor at Northwestern University. His research team was provided funding by a rapid response research grant from the National Science Foundation, which has called for immediate proposals that have potential to address the spread of COVID-19.

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Spotlight: Video Page

UCLA Division of Physical Sciences

The Physical Sciences Video Page features learning tools, research updates, science talks, and more.

Click here to watch.

Alumni Spotlight: Kennen MacKay

Kennen MacKay, a UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry alumnus and RBC biotech analyst, has been tracking the COVID-19 virus and the impact of social distancing. He spoke with CNBC about the patterns he has seen, including some worst- and best-case scenarios.

Read about MacKay’s projections by clicking here. Click here to watch his interview with CNBC.

Successful Remote Learning Efforts: Physics Labs

After UCLA announced that the entirety of spring quarter would be taught remotely because of COVID-19, professors in the physics and astronomy department including Katsushi Arisaka, made great efforts to create meaningful physics labs virtual.

Students in the Physics 4AL, 4BL, or 5CL classes were able to order affordable equipment to allow them to get started with designing their own programming and robotics experiments from their bedrooms and over Zoom. Professor Arisaka has always tried to find new ways to prepare students for future success, and the restructuring of this class was just one of them.


Our world-changing research is helped by your gifts. Read about the ways your donation to the Division of Physical Sciences will further discoveries and student opportunities by clicking here.

Olga Radko, founder of the UCLA Math CircleLos Angeles Math Circle renamed the UCLA Olga Radko Endowed Math Circle

Radko was the founder of this successful, free math enrichment program for K-12 students. She died of ovarian cancer in June 2020 at the age of 45. In her honor, every gift made to the Math Circle up to $250,000 will be matched one-to-one through June 30, 2021.

Latest giving news:

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department to receive $4.1 million

The gift from adjunct professor Lawrence W. Harding, Jr. is the  largest in the department’s history. It establishes the Lawrence Harding Endowed Chair to support a faculty member with expertise in oceanography, an area of study critical to life on Earth.