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.
"My research at CMU involves the development of a new mass spectrometer with the goal of performing some of the world's most precise atomic mass measurements," he said. "We want to have the ability to study naturally occurring stable isotopes and long-lived radioactive isotopes."
Recently, Redshaw received the U.S. Department of Energy's prestigious Early Career Award, which will fund another facet of his research. Next up for him is an investigation of neutrinos, tiny subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements.
Historically, neutrinos were believed to have no mass at all. However, last year's Nobel Prize in physics honored the discovery of experiments which showed that they do indeed have mass. Further experiments aim to directly measure neutrino mass.
Redshaw's work will aid these experiments by providing a precise determination of the energy available for certain radioactive decays – essentially by measuring the mass, m, in Einstein's famous equation, E = mc2. Redshaw's research will take place at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory and at CMU.
"This award is an outstanding achievement for Matt and our CMU physics department," said Ian Davison, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. "It speaks volumes for the quality of our nationally competitive research programs in the department of physics."
A total of 51 scientists were selected for the award – including 29 from U.S. universities and 22 from DOE's national laboratories. The DOE program supports outstanding young researchers early in their careers, when many scientists design the foundation of their innovative research.
Read more about physics at CMU.