Benedictine College Presents Distinguished Traveling Lecture on February 20

Benedictine College Presents Distinguished Traveling Lecture – Feb. 20

Published: Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dr. Hui CaoBenedictine College is pleased to present Dr. Hui Cao, Professor of Applied Physics and Director of Graduate Studies in the Physics Department at Yale University, for a Distinguished Traveling Lecture. Her presentation, “Structural Color in Nature,” will take place on Monday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 307 of Westerman Hall, located on the Benedictine College campus. Her visit is part of the Distinguished Traveling Lecturers program of the American Physical Society, Division of Laser Science, which has underwritten the event. Her lecture is free and open to the public.

Cao is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Packard Fellowship, the Sloan Fellowship, the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award and the Guggenheim Fellowship. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awarded her the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award and she shared the William E. Lamb Medal for Laser Physics and Quantum Optics with A. D. Stone and V. V. Yakovlev. Cao is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. She is a member of Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering.

She is currently working on an investigation of color generation by photonic nanostructures in nature and fabrication of biomimetic samples, which is the subject of her lecture.

“Structural color has attracted much attention in a wide variety of disciplines,” Cao said. “It originates from the physical interaction of light with nanostructure. Most studies have focused on ordered structures in the natural world, which produce iridescent colors that change with the viewing angle. However, nature has also used extensively quasi-ordered structures to create weakly iridescent colors.”

In the course of her research, Cao investigated the physical mechanism for coloration of nanostructures with short-range order in bird feather barbs. Inspired by nature, her team developed a simple technique to fabricate large-scale biomimetic films with potential applications in coatings, cosmetics and textiles. To investigate how the structural color evolves in nature, she conducted the artificial selection on a lab model butterfly to evolve the structural color of wing scales and compared it to natural selection. This work revealed the physical mechanism of structural color evolution, which stands in sharp contrast to pigment color evolution.

In addition to her evening lecture, Cao will also present a Physics & Astronomy Colloquium lecture at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20. That lecture, “Light Transport in a Random Scattering Medium,” will also take place in Westerman Hall, Room 307.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.