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Memorial Symposium in Honor of the Life and Work of Distinguished Prof. of Physics - Joseph L. Birman (5/21/1927 – 10/1/2016)

When Oct 09, 2017
from 09:30 AM to 05:45 PM
Where MR418N
Contact Name
Contact Phone 212-650-5558
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Memorial Symposium for Joseph L. Birman, Distinguished Professor of Physics –Legacy in Science and Human Rights

Date:  Mon, Oct 9, 2017

Time:  09:30 AM — 05:45 PM


Address:  The City College of New York, 160 Convent Avenue (138th Street), Marshak Science Building Room 418N, New York, NY 10031


Location: Marshak Science Building, Room 418N; p: 212-650-5558, s: 212-650-6832


Admission:  Free



Event Details:

Memorial Symposium in Honor of the Life and Work of Distinguished Prof. of Physics - Joseph L. Birman (5/21/1927 – 10/1/2016)

Monday, October 9, 2017, Physics Dept., MR-418N, The City College of New York

Morning Program (in Marshak 418N)

(Chaired by Prof. Jiufeng J. Tu and Distinguished Prof. Robert R. Alfano)

9:50 – 10:00    Opening Remarks (Dean Tony Liss)


10:00 – 10:45  Prof. Chin-Sen Ting, The University of Houston

“Topological Phase Transitions and a Two-Dimensional Weyl Superconductor in a

Superconductor/Half-Metal Heterostructure” (Introduced by Prof. Jiufeng J. Tu)

Abstract:  We find a series of topological phase transitions in s-wave superconductor/half-metal thin-film heterostructure, by tuning the direction of the magnetization of the half-metal film. The heterostructure is grown on top of a semiconductor. The function of the semiconductor surface is to provide a Rashba spin-orbit coupling to charge carriers in the half-metal film where the superconductivity could be induced via the proximity effect from the superconducting film.  Employing numerical and analytic methods, we explore the novel physics in the half-metal film and  its edge states, these include transitions from a topological superconducting phase with a bulk gap to another phase without a bulk gap, but has a ubiquitous local gap which implies only parts of the Fermi surface being gaped.  At the same time, the edge states change from counter-propagating Majorana edge modes to unidirectional Majorana edge modes. In addition, we find transitions between the second phase and a nodal phase which turns out to be a two-dimensional Weyl superconductor with Fermi line edge states. We identify the topological invariants relevant to each phase and the symmetry that protects the Weyl superconductivity.  Experiments to detect these phases are going to be proposed. The physics with a d-wave superconducting film in the heterostructure will also be discussed.


10:50 – 11:35 Prof. Barry Klein, UC Davis

“My Research on High-Temperature Superconductivity: From A15’s With Joe Birman to

Superhydrides” (Introduced by Prof. Jiufeng J. Tu)

Abstract: My research career started with work on my PhD (1969 from NYU) with Joe Birman on the then high-temperature superconductors, the A15 materials such as V3Si and Nb3Sn.  After a postdoc at the Naval Research Laboratory, my career took some detours before I returned to theoretical work on high Tc that led to a succession of papers over more than 30 years that presented methods to quantify predictions of high-Tc materials, from carbonitrides, to A15’s, to hydrides.  Regarding the recently discovered superconducting superhydrides (e.g. H3S) with Tc of over 200K, I will connect this with research done with a colleague some 40 years ago that predicted such high-Tc materials.  Insights into the path to room-temperature superconductivity will be discussed.  Finally, as I reminisce on my journey from NYU with Joe Birman and my subsequent professional research and service careers, I can see the connection between whatever success I have had with my roots working with Joe.  I am one of many who say: ‘I am proud to have been a student of Joe Birman’.

11:40 – 12:25  Dr. Alexander Efros, Naval Research Laboratory

“Quantum dots and talking with Joe Birman” (Introduced by Dist. Prof. Robert R. Alfano)

Abstract: In my talk I will discuss my personal and scientific contacts with Joe, which have developed over last 20 years. I am also going to discuss the latest development in the Quantum Dots field, which is very close to his scientific interest.

12:30 – 1:00     Short talks about Joe’s scientific career (A note from Emmanuel Rashba of Harvard, and speakers include Sergei Tikhodeev, closing remarks by Joan Birman)

1:00 – 2:30      Lunch (in NAC Faculty Dining Room) – (please contact Prof. Tu if you wish to make some remarks at lunch: so far we have Carl David Birman)

Visiting the Birman-Cummins Reading Room in MR-329

Afternoon Program (in Marshak 418N)

2:30 – 3:30      Remembering Joe (Chaired by Prof. Joel Gersten)

2:30 – 2:45 Prof. Robert Alfano, CCNY, Physics Department (Relationship – student, teacher, colleague, friend, supporter of Joseph Birman – the giant)

2:45 – 3:00 Prof. Joe Malinsky, Bronx Community College, CUNY

3:00 – 3:30  Prof. Joel Gersten, Prof. David Schmeltzer, Prof. Que Hong Nguyen, Prof. Miguel Fiolhais and others

3:30 – 5:30      Joe’s Human Rights work (Chaired by Dist. Prof. Eugene Chudnovsky)

Prof. Joel Lebowitz, Rutgers University, on behalf of the APS Committee on the International Freedom of Scientists;

Prof. Alexander Greer, Brooklyn College, on behalf of the Committee of Concerned Scientists (for which Joe had served as vice President for many years);

Prof. Betty Tsang, Michigan State, “Memories of human rights work with Joe”;

Distinguished Prof. Eugene Chudnovsky, Lehman College, “Memories of Joe and his human rights effort”.

5:30 – 5:40     Closing Remarks