Physics and Astronomy’s own Yaqi Hou has won a Dissertation Completion Fellowship. This fellowship supports doctoral students in the final year of the dissertation by enabling them to focus full time on research and writing.

Compressibility as a function of temperatureof a unitary Fermi gas using the fifth-order virial expansion and resummations, compared withother theory approaches and experiment.

For the last couple of years, Yaqi has been working on perfecting a technique to automate algebraic manipulations in an area of physics called quantum many-particle (or many-body) physics. This is a very challenging and very broad area of research that straddles several subareas of physics. For example, quantum many-body physics governs the behavior of electrons in metals and neutrons and protons inside atomic nuclei, so it is relevant for quantum chemistry, condensed matter, atomic, and nuclear physics.

Yaqi’s work focused on characterizing how quantum particles behave at high temperatures where they are about to lose their quantum properties. To that end, he pursued the calculation of the so-called virial coefficients, which capture that regime by adding one particle at a time. Other groups have tried to calculate those coefficients by solving the Schroedinger equation, which becomes essentially impossible after just a few particles. Instead, Yaqi used automated algebra to settle a long-standing tension between theory and experiment regarding the fourth-order virial coefficient and went on to determine the fifth order precisely for the first time. Work is now in progress to generalize those results up to seventh order and to new systems.

More information about the fellowship may be found here Dissertation Completion Fellowships – Funding – The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill