• Boosting the science of creating new materials
    $5M federal grant will help CMU-led team improve computer modeling
    Juan Peralta and Alan Jackson A four-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will help a Central Michigan University-led team fix a long-standing problem in materials science.

    CMU physics professors Koblar Alan Jackson and Juan Peralta are leading the effort, accompanied by research teams from Temple University, the University of Texas-El Paso, the University of Florida and the University of Pittsburgh.

    Their success could point the way for innovations including:
    • More powerful quantum computers
    • Cheaper and more efficient catalyst materials for chemical reactions (think of the catalytic converter that helps clean your car's exhaust)
    • Improved energy generation and storage

  • CMU Physics Faculty member named Associate Editor of The European Physical Journal B
    Cover Image from Advanced Optical Materials Journal Please help us congratulate CMU physics faculty member, Veronica Barone. The European Physical Journal Steering Committee has invited Barone to serve as a member of the Board of Editors of The European Physical Journal B.

    The European Physical Journal is a series of peer-reviewed journals covering physics and related interdisciplinary subjects. In particular, The European Physical Journal B publishes scholarly articles focused on Condensed Matter and Complex Systems.

    Topics include, among others, Solid State and Materials, Computational Methods, and Interdisciplinary Physics. As Associate Editor she will join a team of outstanding scholars that contribute to the high scientific standing of the journal.

    Congratulations Dr. Barone and thanks for helping CMU set the leadership standard in Physics research.
  • Chalk up another win for the Department of Physics at CMU.
    Cover Image from Advanced Optical Materials Journal A team of physicists including CMU faculty member Marco Fornari, just had their latest research on Metamaterials published in Advanced Optical Materials.

    Metamaterials, artificial materials that can attain electromagnetic properties that do not occur naturally, are engineered to create novel properties and functionalities. They can bend light to make objects invisible, increase the performance of antennas to communicate in space, and concentrate radiation to kill cancer cells.

    Based on high‐throughput quantum mechanical calculations and models, the team identified several ultrasoft and hard optical metamaterials.

    The possibility of coupling the extraordinary optical properties of these materials with mechanical robustness allows for the properties to be used in extreme environments such as outer space and in biological fluids. The discovery opens the way to new solutions for aerospace, telecom, even medical applications.

    In addition, the cover of this issue of Advanced Optical Materials was designed by CMU post-doctoral research associate Virginia Carnevali.

    You can read their research article here.
  • CMU Physicist's Research Highlighted
    X-rays provide structural information about the minerals under investigation Canadian Light Source, Canada’s national synchrotrom light source, recently highlighted CMU physics faculty member Valeri Petkov’s Arsenic research.

    An international team of scientists including CMU faculty member Valeri Petkov, have uncovered the elusive atomic structure of two arsenic-containing compounds/minerals discovered more than 100 years ago.

    Specimen BM.62813 from the collections of the Natural History Museum, LondonArsenic occurs naturally in the environment, and it is present in ore deposits and the waste left behind by mining for gold, uranium, and other metals. The concern with arsenic-containing compounds is that soil sources can find their way into waterways. (e.g., Bangladesh suffered a lot from arsenic contamination in groundwater).

    Understanding arsenic-containing minerals at the atomic level can help scientists and industry better understand how they are formed.

    This new information can be used to help prevent and predict arsenic contamination.

    If you’d like to learn more, the article is available by clicking here.
  • Physics alum’s team earns prestigious international award
    Lexus Design Award recognizes rainfall collector to provide clean drinking water in Kenya
    CAD Drawing of Rainfall Collector With 20 million Kenyans — 40% of the population — relying on untreated sources such as ponds and rivers for drinking water, Central Michigan University alum and native Kenyan John Kamau knew he had to do something to help.

    Along with the team at BellTower, a Kenyan design studio he co-founded in 2014, Kamau developed an innovative clean-water collection and storage unit called Open Source Communities. The design was selected from more than 2,000 entries as the Grand Prix winner of the 2020 Lexus Design Award, marking the first time a team from Africa won.

  • Physicist Presents Exciting Results in Nature Communications.
    Valeri PetkovValeri Petkov, a faculty member in the Department of Physics and the Science of Advanced Materials Program, recently published his work on novel catalysts.

    Oxidation reactions account for more than 60% of the chemicals used in the industry to produce pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, and various functionalized hydrocarbon molecules, and play a vital role in the remediation of hydrocarbon pollutants and the production of sustainable energy.

    Gaseous O2 is the most commonly used oxidant, but must often be converted to a more active form, e.g. split into two single oxygen atoms, before the oxidation occurs. This requires effective catalysts to activate the oxygen molecule.

    Using state-of-the-art experimental techniques like in situ high-energy x-ray diffraction at the Advanced Photon source of the Argonne National Laboratory, Petkov and collaborators from SUNY, Binghamton, revealed unknown and important properties that may lead to a paradigm shift in the design of active and stable catalysts for catalytic oxidation reactions.
  • CMU Physics Researcher's Work Featured by the Argonne National Laboratory
    Spatial density distribution of Ta atoms in the first CDW phase of 2H-TaSe2 obtained by mapping a 120 Å × 120 Å × 120 Å RMC-refi Picture solar materials in which defects do not damage photovoltaic efficiency; catalysts whose surfaces retain activity even in the presence of corrosive chemicals; or sensors immune to noise from the environment.

    Any one of these is a revolutionary achievement; the excitement is that quantum materials are known to contain the necessary ingredients to make each of these possible in real devices.

    Using high-energy x-rays provided by the Advanced Photon Source of the Argonne National Laboratory, researchers from CMU studied the quantum material TaSe2 exhibiting charge density waves, an ordered quantum fluid of electrons forming a standing wave pattern.

    The studies found that the waves emerge near room temperature and grow with decreasing temperature before becoming frozen in space at -300 Fahrenheit.

    The results shed light on the unusual electronic properties of TaSe2, including the appearance of superconductivity at about -455 Fahrenheit.

  • CMU Physics Faculty Member Awarded Federal Research Grant
    Juan PeraltaCMU physics faculty member, Juan Peralta, was recently awarded a $271,000 research grant by the U.S. Department of Energy.

    This is a continuation of a grant previously awarded to Dr. Peralta that will allow a Ph.D. student to work along side Dr. Peralta to develop computational tools for materials discovery.

    Physical and chemical processes and material properties are critical for energy applications such as catalytic processes involving transition metals or the properties of nanoparticles used to increase the rate of oxygen reduction to water in fuel cells.

    To drive innovation in these areas, it is of paramount importance to understand the properties of these materials.

    Here is where Dr. Peralta’s first-principles computer simulations derived from fundamental quantum mechanics play a key role as tools to predict new phenomena, determine the material's parameters needed for modeling its behavior, and, more generally, analyze experimental results.
  • Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise, July 12, 2020
    screenshot of youtube video This month we are treated to one of the brightest comets in more than 20 years. Discovered on March 23, 2020 by NASA's NEOWISE space telescope (after which the comet is named), it made a close approach to the Sun on July 3, closer even than planet Mercury.

    Unlike many other comets, this one survived the Sun's intense heat and developed an impressive dust tail, along with a fainter, blue gas/ion tail.

    For the next few days, the comet will be visible to the naked eye at around 11 pm in the northwest sky. You will need a low horizon, unobscured by buildings and trees, and a reasonably dark sky. Using a pair of binoculars or a small telescope will make the tail stand out better.

    This video, created by CMU Physics faculty member Axel Mellinger, is a time lapse made from 327 individual, 2-second exposures, taken over a 35 minute time span with a Canon 6D DSLR camera and a telephoto lens from a parking lot on the west side of Mt. Pleasant. The comet's motion in the video is actually due to the Earth's rotation.

    Don't miss comet NEOWISE, since it will not be back for another 6,800 years!

  • CMU physics team aids search for habitable planets
    Researchers use accelerator to improve accuracy of measuring planetary conditions
    Dr. Chananate Uthaisar receiving the 2019 BrightVolt Employee of the Year awardCentral Michigan University physics faculty member George Perdikakis, three doctoral students and four graduate students are leading an experiment that connects nuclear physics with a search for possible habitable planets outside our solar system.

    Their work with a team at Ohio University promises to move the needle closer to determining which Earth-like exoplanets could support life as we know it.

  • Nailing down water?
    Dr. Chananate Uthaisar receiving the 2019 BrightVolt Employee of the Year awardWater is paramount in nearly all areas of science. Yet, computational methods that are remarkably successful in predicting the properties of many materials, fail for water. A team from CMU in collaboration with Temple University and University of Texas at El Paso showed recently that removing the so-called self-interaction error, which is an artifact that is intrinsically embedded in popular computational methods, helps to improve the description of water. This work is part of a large collaborative effort to advance computational methods that help understand the fundamental properties of molecules and materials.

  • May 11, 2020
    Los Alamos selects physics Ph.D. grad
    Nuclear astrophysicist helps launch new doctoral program’s first graduating class

    Panagiotis Gastis Central Michigan University’s new physics doctoral program is already showing its star power as one of its first graduates has landed a postdoctoral position at the prestigious Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

    Panagiotis Gastis of Greece, who focused on nuclear astrophysics, recently began a three-year stint at the lab, which is universally known for its top-level research and being the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

    The stars seemed to align for Gastis to come to CMU. His research advisor in Greece knows Georgios Perdikakis, his research advisor at Central. But it was the results of his work and determination that won him the position at Los Alamos, Perdikakis said

  • April 27, 2020
    CMU, Clemson students compete in first-ever online Astro-hackathon
    Matt Redshaw in front of testing equipment Last week, CMU and Clemson faced-off in the first Astrophysics-themed hackathon event.

    For 3 days straight, teams from the two Universities battled it out virtually, coding their Astrophysics and Nuclear science knowledge into meaningful calculation tools. In the process, they broadened their physics and coding knowledge and produced some interesting results that are worth using for their future research.

    The competition had a simple goal: "Use webnucleo (nucleosynthesis toolkit developed by Clemson) for an application of your choice in nuclear astrophysics" The competing projects were judged based on their originality/creativity, visual quality/presentation, the usefulness within the science of nuclear astrophysics, and the technical difficulty of the work.

    When all code was done and results presented, one of the CMU teams emerged victorious with their Grand-prize winning project simulating a neutron star devouring a white dwarf star. A Clemson team received the special prize for best visual presentation with their project simulating the dramatic explosion of a white dwarf into a type Ia supernova, while a second Clemson team received the special prize for technical difficulty with a project simulating fine details of the mechanism of chemical element formation in supernovae and burning stars.
  • April 2, 2020
    Does E really equal MC squared?
    CMU physicist Matt Redshaw talks research and the road to a career in physics in Futurum magazine (photo courtesy of Futurum)

    Matt Redshaw in front of testing equipment “What I love most about it, is that I get to do a lot of different things. I get to teach and mentor students, from first year undergraduates just starting out on their physics journey, to PhD students who are developing the skills to start on their careers as independent scientists.” said Matt Redshaw, Associate Professor of Physics at Central Michigan University.

    “I also get to think about interesting problems and ideas in physics, and to plan and run experiments to help solve those problems and test those ideas.”

    Redshaw recently spent some time with Futurum magazine describing his current research, testing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and sharing his path to a career in nuclear physics.

    “I learned that it is nuclear physics that fuels the life and death of stars. I think it is really cool that by studying the laws of physics that describe how the tiny nucleus of an atom behaves, you can understand the universe on a galactic scale,” said Redshaw.

    Read the Futurum story to learn more about Dr. Redshaw’s research and how you or maybe someone in your family can take that first step towards a career in the sciences.

  • February 27, 2020
    Supernovas, Burning Stars, & X-ray Bursts..Oh My
    First Hands-on Coding Workshop a huge success

    Images of the progression of a supernova On February 6th, CMU Physics students, tested their skills simulating burning and exploding stars, in the first-ever hands-on coding workshop on the creation of elements, organized at the CMU Department of Physics.

    The challenge was simple: Choose your favorite type of cosmic event (Supernova, Burning star, X-ray burst, etc).; Hack your way through a specialized set of codes to build a realistic simulation of the explosion. Make visuals of the results. Impress your friends and colleagues.

    The one-day event was a collaboration between Central Michigan University and Clemson University and is the first of a series of events planned between the Physics departments of the two Universities.

    The goal is to provide students hands-on specialization using the latest coding toolkits available in a niche subfield of physics and prepare them for success in graduate school and research-related careers.

    Everybody had a blast and learned a lot. The students particularly benefited by having the creator of the coding package, Prof. Brad Meyer from Clemson University in the same room coaching them.

    The next event in the series, a friendly online face-off between Clemson and Central Michigan student teams, is currently planned for later in the Spring semester.
  • February 19, 2020
    CMU researcher cashing in on gold
    Tiny gold nanostructures show huge potential

    Physics Graduate Student in LabSince ancient times, gold has been used in the production of jewelry, coins, statues…even as decoration for buildings. Today, gold nanostructures, in particular thin gold nanowires, are attracting a lot of interest due to their potential in the fields of catalysis, molecular electronics, bioimaging, and drug delivery.

    While interest in these nanostructures is high, the details of their formation is still undetermined. Recently CMU physics researcher Valeri Petkov, along with researchers from France, have grown long gold nanowires at the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago.

    “If we know how they grow, we can make them by smart design,” said Petkov.

    In the future, gold nanostructures could aid in speeding up chemical reactions, help target the delivery of medications, creating molecular building blocks for electronic components, even help to non-invasively view biological processes in real time.

  • December 3, 2019
    Physics chases ‘ghost particles’
    Team is building a more accurate device to measure the mass of the elusive neutrino

    Physics Graduate Student in Lab ​Central Michigan University physics faculty member Matt Redshaw and his students are proud to be making a big deal of almost nothing.

    They are working to help determine the precise mass of neutrinos, the "ghost particles" of the universe that for many years scientists didn't even know existed because their mass is near zero. Billions of them are thought to have been born during the Big Bang, and knowing their mass would contribute to theories of how the universe evolved, Redshaw said.

    "There are enough of them that they can exert a gravitational influence on the universe," he said.

    But because they are so tiny, measuring their mass has proven nearly impossible. The best measurement that scientists have been able to make is putting upper limits on its mass. The most recent measurement, made in September in Germany, said it can't have mass of more than 1.1 electron volts, or about one five-hundred-thousandth the mass of an electron.

  • November 7, 2019
    Improving our picture of molecules
    CMU physics undergraduate is lead author on published paper

    Alex JohnsonAlex Johnson, a senior physics major from Brownstown, MI, is first author of a new article being published in the Journal of Chemical Physics, a journal that has been publishing top research in the area of chemical physics since 1933.

    The article documents how a new correction to density functional theory (DFT), a popular method that allows the properties of molecules and solids to be predicted computationally, significantly improves the description of a molecule’s electric dipole moment. This key characteristic determines the forces molecules exert on one another and computing it accurately is essential for modeling chemical processes.

    Alex designed the statistical tests for the study, which was crucial for this work. He carried out the calculations using the high performance computing resources at the Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research (ICER) at Michigan State University. (CMU is an ICER partner institution.) He and his co-authors in the Physics Departments at CMU and the University of Texas at El Paso are members of the FLOSIC Center, a research center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and devoted to improving DFT. 

  • November 5, 2019
    New global research effort includes CMU physics faculty
    Students will have opportunities to work side by side with scientists in 17 countries

    graphic showing world wide information flow Central Michigan University physics faculty members are part of a newly created worldwide network of research institutions working to understand the origin of the elements and matter that make up our universe.

    The new International Research Network for Nuclear Astrophysics, dubbed IReNA, is made up of seven core research institutions in the United States and 62 associated institutions, including CMU, in 17 countries.

    "We will now be able to do research that is only possible by collaborating with international partners who are the experts in very specialized areas," said CMU physics faculty member Alfredo Estrade, who is part of the IReNA steering committee. Fellow physics faculty member Georgios Perdikakis is an initial participant in the budding CMU group.

    "This also will create great opportunities for our students to visit laboratories around the world, work with those top scientists and learn new techniques," Estrade said, noting members' expertise in such areas as nuclear reactions, formation of heavy elements, computer modeling, dense matter and astronomy.

  • October 23, 2019
    Three CMU physics researchers
    Are using quantum computers to help meet demand for more powerful tools

    “A classical computation is like a solo voice—one line of pure tones succeeding each other. A quantum computation is like a symphony—many lines of tones interfering with one another” (S. Lloyd).

    And this quantum symphony is potentially able to accelerate computer technology beyond what we can currently imagine. Three researchers in CMU’s Department of Physics, Dr. Andrew Supka, Dr. Virginia Carnevali, and faculty member Marco Fornari, have received funding from the Department of Energy to embark upon this great adventure: learning how and which kind of “symphonies” can be composed and played with a quantum computer, specifically a D-Wave Quantum Computer.

    The topic is hot, but the task is hard! Virginia’s work aims to apply quantum computation to simulate how electrons travel in complex systems.

    Andrew is implementing algorithms to harness the power of quantum computing for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

    Expressing the problems in the D-Wave language is the first step then, through the phenomenon of quantum annealing, the computer seeks the solution in the quantum realm.

    The computational scientific community is increasingly demanding more powerful tools: quantum computing is the strong candidate for the future, and we are proud to contribute on writing “new symphonies” for science.
  • October 1, 2019
    The mystery of the neutrino mass came one step closer to solution in September. Physics is building lab to enable closing in even more
    Matt Redshaw and the Chip Trap he is buildingThe strange and ghostly neutrino has intrigued physicists since it was first theorized to exist nearly 90 years ago. Back then, people thought the neutrino had no mass, similar to photons, the particles of light. We have learned much about the neutrino over this time. (Neutrinos come to us from space, or from earth created by human or born out of radioactive decay of some materials). We now know that neutrinos come in three flavors! Each neutrino flavor interacts differently with the world than the other.

    And that's not all! Experiments showed that as neutrinos fly in space, they continuously swap between their three flavors. Think about it! A neutrino starts as one type of particle and continually changes into a different particle and back again. Physicists have found that to do this flavor swapping (called neutrino oscillation) neutrinos can not be massless, as was previously thought. The physicists that made this discovery earned the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics.

    Still, we don't know yet exactly how much mass each neutrino has. Neutrino oscillation experiments show that neutrinos have mass, not what these masses are. Over the years, physicists have put down an enormous worldwide experimental effort to find the answer (the "absolute neutrino mass scale" in physics terminology). The most stringent of these investigations study how much energy is turned into neutrino mass during radioactive decays that generate neutrinos. They study neutrinos born during the beta-decay of isotopes such as tritium, the heaviest isotope of hydrogen on earth. Measurements of this consumed energy from the 1990s and 2000s have set an upper limit on the neutrino mass to be 2ev/c2, approximately 255,000 times lighter than an electron, which is the next in order lightest fundamental particle, with a mass of 511,000 eV/c2.

    In September 2019, the next-generation tritium beta-decay experiment for neutrino mass determination, KATRIN, in Karlsruhe, Germany, lowered this upper limit by a factor of two, to 1 eV/c2, i.e., 511,000 times lighter mass than the electron (read about it here).

    Experiments such as KATRIN, cannot measure the neutrino mass unless they know the total energy released in the radioactive decay that produces the neutrinos. For KATRIN, according to Einstein's theory of relativity, this energy is equal to the mass difference between tritium and helium-3 (what tritium becomes after the decay). This mass was precisely measured at Florida State University where Prof. Redshaw received his Ph.D. in 2007. The Florida group used a Penning trap – a device that can trap isotope ions inside strong magnetic and electric fields.

    Prof. Matt Redshaw is one of the Physicists working on an even more improved generation of experiments for a more precise measurement of the neutrino mass. One that will use the beta-decay of the radioactive isotope holmium-163. Matt and his graduate and undergraduate students have designed and are building an advanced Penning trap at Central Michigan University that is called CHIP-TRAP. It will precisely measure the energy released in the holmium-163 beta decay opening the road for a further reduction of the upper limit on the neutrino mass.

    Would like to hear all the latest news on the search for the neutrino mystery mass? Join us on Thursday, October 3rd at the Physics department colloquium, where Prof. Diana Parno from Carnegie Mellon University and member of the KATRIN collaboration, will talk about the new results from KATRIN, as well as plans in the community for neutrino mass determination experiments with other isotopes, such as 163Ho.
  • August 22, 2019
    CMU Researchers Praised for Publication
    The world of minerals has many surprises. Searching for cheaper and non-toxic materials that provide high performance without compromising the environment is of paramount importance and complex minerals may be key to sustainable novel technologies.

    CMU researchers Andrew Supka, Rabih Al Rahal Al Orabi, and physics faculty member Marco Fornari, working in collaboration with experimental groups in France and Japan, have discovered ways to improve the properties of mineral Colusite to make it more efficient in transforming waste heat into useful electrical energy.

    Research in thermoelectric energy conversion has led to things such as mini-refrigerators, the source of energy that has kept the Voyager spacecraft alive since 1977, and devices that recover thermal energy losses in the automotive sector.

    The editor of the international edition of Angewandte Chemie wrote: "According to the evaluation of referees the results reported in your Communication are “highly important” or even “very important”. Less than 10% of our manuscripts receive such a positive review.” This paper (https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201908579) follows work published recently in Advanced Energy Materials (https://doi.org/10.1002/aenm.201803249) and the Journal of the American Chemical Society (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jacs.7b11224). The combined impact factor of those journals exceeds 47.

    View the article here 
  • May 21, 2019
    Machine Learning Applied to Materials Science
    Rajendra Joshi and an image representing his research A research article by Rajendra Joshi, a Science of Advanced Materials Ph.D. student from Nepal, was recently published in the journal, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

    His research, supported by grants from the Department of Energy, proposes a method, based on machine learning, that “allows us to do a very quick evaluation of the voltage that a material will provide in a battery,” said CMU physics faculty member Juan Peralta. “Previously, testing materials was time consuming and expensive.”

    If a new material is found to provide useful a voltage, scientists and engineers can use that material to create new battery technologies, thus Rajendra Joshi’s work allows for quicker and cheaper development of real world devices such as laptop computers and cellular phones.

    View Joshi’s article here.

    View the online predictor here.
  • May 2, 2019
    The properties of a valuable hire
    Required CMU undergraduate physics course takes seriously the matter of employment
    Daniel HatcherDaniel Hatcher is graduating from Central Michigan University this spring with a master’s degree in physics and a graduate certificate in data mining. He has a job lined up at General Motors as a business intelligence data analyst. While he is happy for what his future holds, getting a master's degree is not what he had planned when he graduated from college in North Carolina with a bachelor's degree in physics. He wanted a job. "But I didn't know what I was doing: writing a resume, a cover letter, trying to get an interview," he said. "I was just sitting at my kitchen table, opening job applications, filling them out and sending them off." He said he applied for about 50 positions. "I heard back from one, which told me that I wasn't qualified and asked me if I knew someone who was. It was demoralizing." If he had been a physics undergraduate at Central, he might have gotten that job.

  • August 30, 2018
    Seeking keys to the universe
    CMU team runs experiment at superconducting cyclotron to help solve nuclear puzzle
    Alfredo Estrade at the cyclotronWhen two neutron stars collided in 2017 in a never-before-seen event, astronomers and astrophysicists were in seventh heaven, so to speak. Nuclear reactions from the exploding stars rained cosmic debris thought to be the source of gold, silver, platinum and uranium ­­­— heavy elements that astrophysicists say have enhanced the chemical composition of the universe. "My wedding band emerged from a neutron star merger," ScienceNews quoted Harvard theoretical astrophysicist Avi Loeb at the time. Understanding the conditions that create chemical elements is the goal of physics instructors such as Central Michigan University assistant professor Alfredo Estrade. But reproducing on Earth how these and other elements are created in the nuclear reaction of a stellar explosion is impossible — unless each step in the chain is studied separately, he said. To do that, a team of CMU faculty and students recently ran its experiment at one of the world's flagship nuclear science research facilities — the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory on the campus of Michigan State University.

  • July 19, 2018
    Physics lab takes quantum leap
    New space allows students to help create new materials for super-fast electronics
    Central Michigan University physics faculty member Junjie Yang likens himself to a farmer. But instead of growing food, he is growing materials to power next-generation electronics and industry — and to empower CMU students to be the next leaders in those fields. Specifically, Yang is growing crystals from atoms, using physics and chemistry. His immediate goal is to create crystals that would be used to replace the current silicon wafers in computers and other electronics, making them much faster with greater memory. His dream is to grow new materials that would enable the control of both their electric and magnetic properties and operate at room temperature.

  • April 25, 2018
    Driving for a better fuel cell
    Energy Department grants power the work of an international team of CMU researchers
    Yazan MaseadehWhen Yazan Maswadeh, of Jordan, decided to pursue his Ph.D., he didn't search the web for universities, he looked for researchers who were doing work in his field of crystallography. "I was seeking high-level research. There are very few people in the world who are conducting this kind of research." That's how he found Valeri Petkov, a faculty member in Central Michigan University's physics department. "His research areas interested me," Maswadeh said. "So I just sent him an email saying that I am a student from Jordan who has just finished my master's degree in physics and my research interest is in atomic structural analysis. If you have a Ph.D. position, I would be a valuable component to your research." Petkov interviewed Maswadeh online and encouraged him to apply to CMU. "I did not have prior knowledge about CMU, or where it was located. But I thought 'I'll apply to this university.'" Now as a doctoral student in the Science of Advanced Materials program in CMU's College of Science and Engineering, Maswadeh is part of an international team of CMU researchers working to identify the weak points in fuel cells and give feedback to other researchers to improve them. The research is being funded by another $238,000 in a seven-year string of grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.

  • November 16, 2017
    Fired Up & Focused!
    Meet Neerajan Nepal
    Neerajan NepalNeerajan Nepal came to Central Michigan University for the physics. He stayed for the nuclear astrophysics. After graduating with an undergraduate degree from Tribhuvan University in the country of Nepal, Neerajan was in search of a graduate school where he could conduct research in an academic setting. That's when he found CMU. "I started to read about CMU, and I was impressed by the research and other academic opportunities," he said. He was so impressed he decided after earning his master's degree to stay at CMU and pursue a Ph.D.

  • LIGO uncovers the birthplace of gold and other heavy elements in the death spiral of neutron stars
    Recent discoveries fuel CMU research
    By Dr. Alfredo Estrade & Dr. Georgios Perdikakis / Photo courtesy of NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet
    Black Hole collision When the history books are written, the past year in physics will be one remembered by violent cosmic events and the birth of a new type of astronomy – one based on gravitational waves.

    It all started in 2016 with the first detection of a collision between black-holes by LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. As a result, the pioneers behind LIGO's development, Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish, where awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. LIGO allows us for the first time to feel --actually hear by means of an actual audible chirp-- the ripples caused to the very fabric of space time when compact objects such as massive black holes and neutron stars many times the mass of our sun merge spiraling into each other.

    But that discovery was just the tip of the iceberg. This week a collaboration of LIGO and other observatories announced the discovery of a merger between two neutron stars, a very exotic cosmic event that had long been predicted by astrophysics theories but never observed. In August 17th, just as the USA was preparing for a solar eclipse, a gravitational wave signal was felt by both LIGO and a similar European observatory (VIRGO), at the same time as a burst of gamma-rays was observed by the Fermi gamma-ray telescope. It looked like a neutron star merger event, so it triggered an alert for a number of survey telescopes that frantically started scanning the sky to find a smoking gun. When a new shiny bright object was found a few hours later in a galaxy far far away (NGC 4993), the astronomy community went into overdrive and every respectable telescope was pointed in that direction!

    A neutron star is likely the most dense and hard and stiff object in the universe; the mass of a star like the sun all packed into a sphere the size of Mount Pleasant! Scientists have long suspected that many of such beasts are not alone, but spend their life dancing around another neutron star partner for millions of years until their orbits become so close that they merge in a violent cosmic collision. After the ripples of the collision where detected by LIGO, optical telescopes observed a beautiful display of cosmic fireworks that shone 200 billion times brighter than our sun and quickly faded away in about a week: the fascinating event was baptized a Kilonova.

    The observation of the neutron star merger is a treasure of data to test physics and astrophysics theories, ranging from cosmology to nuclear physics question. One of the most important pieces of information relates to the origin of the chemical elements in our world, and has CMU Professors Alfredo Estrade and George Perdikakis (and the rest of the nuclear astrophysics community) particularly excited. Astrophysicists had long speculated that during a merger the conditions would be just right so the material spewed out by the collision – mostly neutrons – would rearrange itself in an act of stellar alchemy to create most elements beyond Tin in the periodic table. So astronomers where looking for them in the wreckage of the merger… and they found gold! Not just a bit of gold; Many Septillion - a billion quadrillions (or 10^24) - pounds of gold! Many many gold atoms in mint new condition; enough to make ten planets of pure and only gold with the mass of the earth… And not just gold; also the iodine of your Thyroid, the lead that might poison your water pipes, or the uranium in the core of nuclear power plants.

    What we witnessed for the first time was a nucleosynthesis event that creates all those heavy elements that, after being ejected into the interstellar medium, will be recycled into new planets and stars, in a continuous cycle of galactic chemical evolution. This has confirmed that the bizarre theories about how the elements are formed might actually be correct! It will allow nuclear astrophysicists to test many details about theories on the origin of the elements – for example how the nuclear reactions that Prof Estrade and Perdikakis measure with experiments at accelerator labs contribute to the formation of gold and other heavy elements – and likely discover new surprises along the way.
  • October 4, 2017
    $4.8 million grant boosts physics
    CMU profs in lead roles of multi-university search to fix flawed theory
    Juan Peralta and Alan JacksonTwo Central Michigan University physics professors are at the forefront of a four-year, $4.8 million U.S. Department of Energy research grant. Koblar Alan Jackson is the project director named in the grant, and his physics department colleague Juan Peralta is a senior investigator. The project spans five universities and 10 senior scientists. "What we're doing, it's big," said Jackson. The researchers aim to solve a long-running challenge in molecular modeling, the science of using computer calculations to make predictions about materials at the atomic or molecular level.

  • September 1, 2017
    CMU student gets competitive fellowship
    Physics major devotes years to reaching coveted goal
    Reed Kolany​Reed Kolany, a physics major at Central Michigan University, certainly isn't one to stand around and wait for opportunity. Back when he was a CMU freshman, the Naperville, Illinois, resident decided he wanted to be a medical physicist. Not long after, he set his sights on a highly competitive fellowship offered by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. He knew that as a freshman he'd likely be turned down. So Kolany decided to "build his resume" like fine masonry and wait to take his biggest swing as an upperclassman. And so, it happened. By the middle of his junior year the fellowship was his. Kolany was one of seven students in the country to land one.

  • August 15, 2017
    Solar eclipse has CMU physics faculty totally fired up
    Some profs crossing the country to get front-row seats
    solar eclipseThe upcoming solar eclipse has some Central Michigan University faculty so pumped that they're hitting the road to catch the event in its full glory. The moon will cover 80 percent of the sun when the eclipse hits Michigan on Aug. 21. That sounds like a lot, but the difference between 80 percent and the full shot is huge, according to Axel Mellinger, an associate professor in CMU's physics department. "Some people have compared it to watching the Super Bowl from the parking lot versus being inside the stadium," he said.​

  • April 25, 2017
    Work on the universe's secrets earns CMU student prestigious scholarship
    Physics major, Jacob Davison, receives Goldwater Scholarship; two others get honorable mention
    The tiniest, unseen phenomena can unlock secrets of the universe. And helping scientists observe them has earned a Central Michigan University physics student the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, worth $7,500.The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation recently awarded the prize to Jacob Davison, a junior from Galesburg, Michigan, for work he did last year during a nine-week internship.

  • March 16, 2017
    Veronica Barone awarded the President's Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity
    The President's Award recognizes outstanding senior faculty members for their scholarship of national and international merit. Barone is a globally recognized physicist with a research focus on computational modeling of novel materials for energy applications. Throughout her career, her work has been cited thousands of times, she has published 53 articles and peer reviewed more than 50 articles. Barone was named the...

  • CMU nuclear astrophysics experiences around the world
    Nuclear astrophysics, as an interdisciplinary field, requires a coordinated effort from various areas in physics and astrophysics to answer its most challenging questions. Experimental and theoretical nuclear physics, astrophysical models, astronomical data, or atomic physics experiments, are some of the fields that contribute to our understanding of the stellar processes that enrich the chemical composition of the universe. This expertise is often scattered across distant institutions, and even different countries, and international workshops and conferences are essential to keep the field moving forwards. In recent months three graduate students from Central Michigan University had the opportunity to participate in such meetings. Panagiotis Gastis, and Stylianos Nikas attended the Astrophysical Nuclear Reaction Network School in Schmitten, Germany, to learn about modern computational tools in nuclear astrophysics. Neerajan Nepal participated in the Joint JINA/CEE Winter School on Nuclear Astrophysics in Shanghai, China, which aimed to bring together young researchers in the field from the US and China. Both of them presented talks about their research projects in these meetings. It was an enriching experience, not only through learning of new scientific tools and topics that apply to their own research projects, but also from the opportunity to expand their network of fellow scientists around the world.

  • A nuclear physics kind of reaction
    Los Alamos internship energizes CMU student's research interests
    For nine weeks this summer, Central Michigan University senior Jacob Davison spent eight hours a day, five days a week at Los Alamos National Laboratory learning more about the evolution of elements within the universe.

  • CMU continues leading initiative in layered materials for technological applications
    Prof. Veronica Barone from the Department of Physics and Science of Advanced Materials Program at CMU, together with colleagues from NASA, UT-Austin, and University of Maryland, organize again the symposium “2D​ Materials: Graphene & Beyond & their Device Applications”. This symposium is part of the ENFL division of the American Chemical Society and will be held at the 252th ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia (Aug 21-25 2016). The symposium brings world experts to discuss the exciting advances on novel layered materials for sustainable energy as well as other important applications.

  • CMU professor earns U.S. Department of Energy honor
    Physics researcher granted prestigious Early Career Award
    When Matthew Redshaw joined Central Michigan University in 2012, part of the Dow Science Complex was remodeled to install a large superconducting ​magnet for his specialized research in nuclear physics. The magnet is one of the central components of a mass spectrometer that Redshaw, assistant professor of physics, is building in order to precisely measure atomic masses.

  • Explaining the Force: Physics faculty tackle the science behind Star Wars
    Earlier this year, the latest film in the Star Wars franchise debuted with record numbers. The film brought a resurgence of fans back to the classic storyline, including Central Michigan University physics faculty members. In honor of May the Fourth, faculty have answered a few off-the-wall questions related to the science within the franchise to help explain the story from long ago, in a galaxy far, far away:

  • Physics major selected for Nuclear Physics internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory
    CMU physics junior, Jacob Davison, has been selected for a summer internship at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Jacob will spend 10 weeks conducting nuclear physics research at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE). He'll work collaboratively on a research project studying heavy element production in stars using neutron induced nuclear reactions detected with a Low Energy NZ (LENZ) chamber, a recently developed instrument for that purpose.

  • CMU department of physics joins program to increase opportunities for minorities
    The physics department at CMU is proud to now be a member of the American Physical Society Bridge Program. The APS Bridge Program is a national effort to increase the number of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented students.

  • Thermoelectric materials used to convert thermal losses into useful electricity
    Central Michigan University professor of physics, Marco Fornari, and post-doctoral associate, Rabih, Al Rahal Al Orabi, recently established a record by designing and synthesizing a new material that can efficiently and directly convert waste heat into useful electricity. The work, both theoretical and experimental, was done in collaboration with several research groups in Seoul, Korea. Professor Fornari presented the teams work in an invited talk in Tel Aviv, Israel and Dr. Al Rahal Al Orabi gave an invited talk at the EMN Thermoelectric conference in Orlando, FL.

  • Understanding the cosmos
    CMU physicists can benefit from monumental discovery
    Last Thursday, humanity made one significant step forward in the understanding of the cosmos. Scientists from the California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Louisiana State University announced that in September 2015 they detected, for the first time, the ripples in space-time created by the dramatic collision of two black holes 30 times the mass of our sun. Gravitational waves, as these ripples are scientifically known, were first suggested by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity about a century ago, in 1915.

  • Illustrating historical moments in physics
    CMU professor's map helps LIGO visualize Einstein's waves
    The science community was abuzz last Thursday with the news that a gravitational wave was detected from the collision of two black holes in the cosmos. The discovery was hailed as one of the greatest physics victories in more than 100 years, and a Central Michigan University faculty member played a key role in illustrating the finding.

  • CMU researchers study isotopes at national superconducting cyclotron
    In February 2015, CMU M.S. physics student Adam Bryce and physics professor Matthew Redshaw participated in an experiment at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory to measure the atomic mass of two radioactive carbon and oxygen isotopes. The isotopes that were studied have fewer neutrons than the stable carbon and oxygen atoms found in nature, so only live for a few minutes after they are created with the cyclotron accelerator. However, this is enough time to catch them in an ion trap and measure their atomic mass to a precision of a few parts-per-billion. The results have been used to study the so-called superallowed beta-decays that these isotopes undergo and contribute to tests of fundamental theories in physics, including the Standard Model of particle physics. The results were recently published in two papers in the high-impact physics journal Physical Review Letters.

  • International collaborators study nuclear density at accelerator
    This past week, physicists from the University of Oslo (Norway), Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory met with OHIO research personnel and graduate students at the Edwards Accelerator Lab to conduct experiments to observe nuclear reaction pathways for making heavier elements.