• 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.