Physicist receives Fulbright Award

Martin E. Huber, PhD. will study SQUIDs in Israel

May 7, 2013

Physicist receives Fulbright Award
Martin Huber

When University of Colorado Denver Physics Professor Martin E. Huber, PhD. talks about SQUIDs, he’s not referring to marine life. In Huber’s scientific world, SQUIDs are super conducting quantum interference devices, very sensitive magnetometers operating near absolute zero with a wide range of applications.

In recent years Huber has squeezed in frequent trips to Israel for work on nanoSQUIDS during vacation breaks. Now, as the recipient of his first Fulbright Award, Huber will have the financial support he needs to spend eight full months in the country collaborating with his Israeli research partners.

“I was in a meeting when I received the news”, Huber remembers. “I’m afraid I let out a very unprofessional ‘woo-hoo’!”

Huber’s excitement is a reflection of the impact his complete immersion in the project could have, not only on current research, but also on future opportunities. “This award allows me to focus on the work for an extended period of time, which in turn accelerates our progress in developing these unique nanoSQUIDs”, he notes.

“I will be working with Professor Eli Zeldov and his group at the Weizmann Institute of Science to develop SQUIDs for nanoscale probe microscopy that approach single-electron magnetic sensitivity,” an important milestone is this field of study.

“While other groups are developing similar devices, our technique is unique in its ability to combine nanoscale SQUIDs with the capability to scan scientific samples within nanometers from the surface. This combination opens a new range of applications and we expect there will be high-impact publications resulting from this work.”

All of which leads right back to the Physics Department on the University of Colorado Denver campus and Huber’s continued focus to develop the same kind of scanning capabilities in his own laboratory.

“My goal,” he says, “is to leverage discoveries and publications from this experience into successful sponsored research for the University. Beyond what we’re able to accomplish at Weizmann, this experience will increase my ability to attract external funding to develop a scanning SQUID microscope in my laboratory here at CU Denver.”

With a local scanning system, Huber would use a different kind of nanoSQUID that measures magnetic susceptibility (a sample’s response to magnetic fields) rather than simply the sample’s ambient magnetic field.

In addition to advancing the sensitivity and performance of nanoSQUIDs through support by the Fulbright Award, Huber is also applying SQUID technology to the search for dark matter, supported by the National Science Foundation. He is a member of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) collaboration, which, he explains, “is searching for one of the fundamental yet unknown constituents of the universe, a new type of particle that, in theory, makes up the majority of the dark matter.” SQUIDs are one of several state-of-the-art technologies used in this sensitive detection effort.

The CDMS collaboration recently announced that it has seen possible hints of dark matter particles in its latest data set. Though not considered a discovery, the result was deemed interesting enough to warrant further investigation.

However, in the coming year, Huber’s focus will be on nanoSQUIDs and ensuring that his Fulbright Award directly benefits CU Denver.

“Sabbaticals have always opened up new possibilities for me”, he says. “They give me the freedom to explore new opportunities and are always exciting in a different way.”

This time the excitement rises to a whole new level. The extra recognition and support that comes with a Fulbright Award provides Huber with opportunities he’s never even imagined.

Tracking Fulbright’s awarded to University of Colorado Denver faculty like Huber recently became much easier. The Office of International Affairs has added Fulbright Award information online and encourages faculty to submit or update information about their awards, and to research future Fulbright opportunities.

CU Denver Provost Rod Nairn, PhD. points out that the University’s Fulbright Scholars represent a broad range of academic disciplines and international interests.

“Their work abroad has allowed them to return to our university to influence the internationalization of the curriculum. Additionally, they serve as role models, encouraging international research and teaching. Their efforts are an enduring contribution to the university’s reputation as a globally engaged institution.”

Physicist Martin Huber now joins that proud University of Colorado Denver tradition.