This award funds the research activities of Professor Riccardo Penco at Carnegie Mellon University.
Dissipation gives rise to many interesting phenomena in Nature. It can also be a frustrating barrier to overcome on the path towards technological applications. Despite the important role that dissipation plays in many physical systems, it is often modeled phenomenologically rather than by following a systematic procedure based on fundamental principles. The overarching goal of this project is to develop a more systematic understanding of dissipation by exploiting modern theoretical techniques known as effective field theories. To this end, Professor Penco will tackle a variety of conceptual problems and concrete applications in two distinct areas: hydrodynamics and gravitational systems. This project is also expected to have broader societal impacts. An important outcome will be the advanced training of a postdoctoral researcher. This advances the national interest by directly contributing to the quality of the STEM workforce in the US. Professor Penco will also engage in outreach activities aimed at communicating scientific knowledge outside the typical classroom setting and promoting work in STEM fields as a viable career option.
More technically, Professor Penco’s work will build upon recent progress in dissipative hydrodynamics and explore how the recently uncovered symmetries of thermal states (BRST, KMS, supersymmetry) constrain the effective action of Goldstone modes of spontaneously broken spacetime symmetries. The spectrum of topics he plans to explore ranges from applied (e.g., fluids and superfluids) to formal (e.g., the Goldstone theorem at finite density and temperature). In the context of gravitational physics, Professor Penco will explore a variety of dissipative aspects in black-hole physics (e.g., quasi-normal modes, superradiance) which can play an important role both in astrophysics as well as in high-energy physics, particularly in the context of modified gravity and holography.
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.