Clemson University

Colloquium: Prof. Justin Burton, Emory University


Department of Physics and Astronomy


Meeting ID: 969 5278 4961

Password: 521562

Thursday, September 17, 4:00 pm


Emergent, nonequilibrium physics in a "dusty plasma"


Prof. Justin C. Burton

Department of Physics

Emory University

Abstract: Complex dynamical systems are known to exhibit emergent properties that are missing on the constituent level. A simple example is the flow of water in a pipe, where increasing the flow velocity leads to intermittent "puffs" of turbulence. But what about discrete systems? How many particles, and what type of interactions are necessary to create "interesting" behavior? In our experiments, we use a levitated, quasi-2D layer of charged microparticles to explore these questions. More commonly known as a "dusty plasma", the particles experience an array of electrostatic, hydrodynamic, and phoretic forces which gives rise to a rich spectrum of many-body physics. In this talk I will show how a dusty plasma can exhibit intermittent dynamics reminiscent of the transition to turbulence in pipe flow. The collection of particles transitions from crytalline to gas-like states on minutes-long timescales. In analogy to the Reynolds number in fluid flow, we are able to describe our system through a simplified set of equations and a single dimensionless number characterizing the ratio of external forcing to dissipation. I will also discuss our most recent experiments using dusty plasmas to explore themes of dynamical inference and the machine learning of the forces that drive many-body systems.


Bio: Prof. Justin Burton received his Ph.D. in Physics in 2006 from the University of California, Irvine. He held post-graduate positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Chicago before joining the faculty of Emory University in 2013. Currently, Prof. Burton is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Physics at Emory. His lab's research focuses on a broad array of topics ranging from soft materials and fluid mechanics, to plasma and geophysics. He has co-authored more than 40 articles, is an associate editor for the journal Physical Review Research and was the recipient of a prestigious NSF CAREER award in 2015. Outside of academic research, Prof. Burton advocates for K-12 education and public awareness of climate change science, and his lab runs an after-school science club for 4th and 5th grade students. More information can be found at

Dial-In Information

Meeting ID: 969 5278 4961

Password: 521562

Thursday, September 17 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Lectures / Seminars / Speakers


College of Science, Physics and Astronomy

Target Audience

Students, Faculty, Undergraduate, Graduate, Postdocs

Contact Name:

Amanda Ellenburg

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