This award funds the research activities of Professor Sophia Domokos at the New York Institute of Technology.
Particle physics has made enormous strides in pinpointing the elementary building blocks of matter. Still, many common physical systems behave in ways we donâ€™t fully understand, even though we know exactly what theyâ€™re made of. The elementary particles in these systems interact so forcefully and often that we simply can't keep track of them. Sometimes a new order emerges: electrons team up to let electric currents flow indefinitely; elementary particles called quarks and gluons clump together to form protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei. How precisely elementary particles create this new order remains a mystery. Research in this realm advances the national interest by yielding a deeper scientific understanding of fundamental physical systems --- like the interior of the atomic nucleus --- and the mathematics that describes them. It also allows scientists to make predictions for new phenomena never seen before. In her research, Professor Domokos aims to use a powerful concept called "holographic duality" to make progress in this area. Her project will also yield significant broader impacts: she will involve undergraduate students in cutting-edge research, providing them with personalized training in advanced physics and experience presenting their work at conferences. She will also give lectures about her work to lay audiences.
More technically, Professor Domokos's research is aimed at gaining insight into real-world strongly coupled solitons --- like baryons --- via their "cousins" in supersymmetric gravity duals. These gravity duals come from D-brane intersections, which have the powerful soliton-finding machinery of supersymmetry and string theory built in. Professor Domokos's work will include establishing both sides of the gauge/gravity duality in brane intersections with gravity duals, including identification of soliton-like vacua and finite-energy soliton states, and some aspects of the low-energy behavior of these objects. This program will also yield powerful mathematical tools with which to tackle solitons in curved space, and a more complete understanding of defect-gauge/gravity duality.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.