1996 Physics Department Newsletter


Mick O'Shea It's December here in Manhattan but winter seems to be very late arriving this year. The end of the semester however, is arriving right on schedule. Students are very busy preparing for their final exams and doing final class projects.

The addition to Farrell Library is taking shape. The builders are doing a good job of making sure the stonework matches the rest of campus. The art museum building on the south side of campus by McCain Auditorium is also taking shape and we are all looking forward to having an art museum on campus. In the world of K-State Football the Wildcats had a great season and beat Coloraro State in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, California on December 29. Congratulations Wildcats!!

Mick O'Shea


Jim Legg Another year has passed and it's past time for me to write my yearly column about the happenings in the Department of Physics. This has been a year for which Dickens' opening lines are very appropriate: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . " We hired an excellent young Assistant Professor from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Donna Naples. Gary Wysin was promoted to Associate Professor and granted tenure. Our sponsored research support in fiscal 1995 was $4.299 million, as reported by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. The American Association of Physics Teachers awarded Dean Zollman the Millikan Medal. But Associate Professor John Giese died in July, 1995. A short article about John appears elsewhere in the newsletter.

Like many other people, we continue to watch the ways in which the new Congress has been asserting itself. As I write this, we're into our second government shutdown and it's not clear how everything is going to play out. Everyone asks if the changes are going to severely affect our research funding. I knock on wood and say that we have seen some effects, but so far they are not catastrophic. At the same time, our Kansas legislature also had a large turnover last year and it appears that we may experience real problems with the state funding for the university and for the department. We're presently under a hiring freeze and we will have to defer one faculty search this year at least to next year, it appears.

In the meantime we've installed in Cardwell what our Vice Provost for Research likes to call the only supercomputer in Kansas, a Convex Exemplar parallel processing computer. It has sixteen processors at present and will expand to thirty-two processors next summer. Those of you unfamiliar with these newest computers can find a description in the January, 1996, issue of BYTE. This computer purchase was granted by NSF to an interdisciplinary computational group whose principal investigator is Talat Rahman.

Ed Holub In July, 1964 (just a few years before my time), A. B. Cardwell hired a young Adolph (Ed) Holub as an Accountant I for the department. On December 15, 1995, Ed retired as Accountant II. As many of you know Ed was very important to the smooth operations of the department, and I definitely had mixed emotions as we gathered for his retirement party. I remember that I really had to work hard to get Ed converted to using a computer in his job; Ed liked the way he'd been doing things for over twenty years. But he did recognize that he needed the speed of the computer to keep up with the department's expanding budgets, and it became indispensable in the last few years. I took great delight in presenting Ed with his retirement gift from his fellow workers -- a full-featured multimedia computer. What a change a few years make! I'm sure there are many readers of this newletter who join me in wishing Ed the best possible retirement.

Jim Legg
Department Head


John Giese John P. Giese, Associate Professor of Physics at Kansas State University, died on July 23, 1995, of respiratory failure due to cystic fibrosis. John was born Sept. 14, 1959, in Leavenworth, Kansas. He earned his B.S. degree from KSU in 1982 (Magna cum Laude, Honors Program) and earned his Ph.D. from KSU in 1986. He spent one year as a visiting research scientist at the University of Aarhus and one year as an ORAU postdoctoral fellow at Oak Ridge before returning to join the KSU faculty in 1989 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1993.

John's early research at KSU was on electron capture from inner shells and from atomic hydrogen by highly charged ions. At Aarhus he and Erik Horsdal Pederson worked on angular distributions of hydrogen atoms formed from fast-proton bombardment of helium. They reported a peak in the ratio of double to single target ionization that helped to stimulate recent attempts to factor simple collisions into underlying two-body Coulomb mechanisms. He continued along similar lines at Oak Ridge with investigations of two electron excitations in helium by highly charged ions.

He developed an interest in ion-ion collisions and established a close collaboration with Erhard Salzborn and Frank Melchert at the Justus-Liebig University at Giessen, Germany. Building on this collaboration, he originated at KSU a project to study collisions of highly charged ions with highly charged ions. John was responsible for the building up of the only facility in the United States for the study of such collisions. This facility was just reaching completion at the time of his death.

In addition to his many research contributions in ion-atom collisions, he took great interest in undergraduate teaching. He helped to develop new curricula and new courses in physics and gave much of his time to talk to and encourage young physics students. He spent his entire adult life with the full awareness that he had less time to spend on earth than most have, and he was always in a hurry to get on with life so as to miss as little as possible.

A John Giese memorial scholarship fund has been set up, and we expect to award the first scholarship this spring. Recipients will be outstanding students, active in the physics club and departmental research. In this way, we can honor some qualities that made John such a special person.


The good news from the Macdonald Laboratory for this year is tempered by the loss of
Professor John Giese. He was a friend to everybody and the driving force on the ion-ion collision facility. He was directing two graduate students, Chun-Yen Chen and Allen Landers. In addition, Frank Melchert from the University of Giessen, who was on a one-year Humboldt Fellowship, worked with John on the construction and the installation of the ion-ion facility.


In spite of hard times for government funding of research, the Lab continues to fare well. We are operating on the first year of a three-year Department Of Energy grant. The first year funding level is $1.8M. We also received a $621K from DOE from the Accelerator and Reactor Improvement and Modification fund. This money allowed us to relocate the He compressor for our LHe production plant to a new building located off of the accelerator roof, in order to reduce the noise and vibration in the Lab, and to perform upgrades to the Tandem, LINAC, and CRYEBIS. We have submitted a second request for ARIM funds for FY-96.

The personnel associated with the laboratory are 12 faculty, 4 research associates, 14 graduate students, 6 undergraduate students, and 10 staff members.


The number of visitors, users, and collaborators during the last two years has been visibly up. We have had Prof. Eduardo Montenegro, Pontificia Universidade Catholica Do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Prof. S. L. Varghese, University of South Alabama; Dr. Reinhard Dörner, Feodor Lynen Fellow, and Dr. Joachim Ullrich, G.S.I., Germany; Dr. Hiro Tawara, National Institute for Fusion, Japan; Dr. Mititaka Terasawa, Himeji University, Japan; Prof. Burkhard Fricke and Dr. Peter Kürpick, University of Kassel, Germany; Prof. Jean Pierre Briand, University of Paris, France; Prof. Steve Lundeen and Dr. Charles Fahrenbach, Colorado State University; Dr. Yohko Awaya, Dr. Tadashi Kambara, and Dr. Yasuyuki Kanai, RIKEN, Tokyo, Japan; and Prof. Eugene Rudd and Dr. George Kerby, University of Nebraska.


Other recent news of note:

Pat Richard
Director, Macdonald Lab

Bose-Einstein Condensation

CD Lin One of the major academic perks these days is the opportunity of taking a sabbatical leave. In this one year period you are supposed to do new things and come back with fresh ideas. In the past six months I did run my first 10K in Bolder Boulder and had my first ski lesson in Breckenridge, thus fulfilling the requirement of doing something new. As for the fresh idea, it is still to germinate. But in the past six months, the atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics community did have a big breakthrough in achieving Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC), a subject that we first learned in statistical mechanics. What is amazing is that BEC is possible even for the ideal gas. While BEC can be said to have been seen in superfluid helium and in superconductors, the interparticle interactions in these systems are quite complicated. What the AMO physicists have achieved is quite close to an ideal gas and it may open up the possibility of understanding BEC theoretically.

The race for BEC started in the early 80's with the major effort on spin polarized atomic hydrogen. This system was chosen because two such spin polarized hydrogen atoms cannot form a molecule. The practitioners can reach temperature of a few hundred degree micro-Kelvins, but that is still about a factor of three too hot for the expected BEC to occur. Besides, one of the major problems is how to FIND them even if the condensate is formed.

Laser cooling is a technique which has progressed greatly in the last decade. Using a few beams of lasers the cooled atoms, usually the alkali atoms, can be placed in a magnetic optical trap. Well, people in the game can reach very low temperature, but the number of atoms in the trap, or the density, was not high enough. For BEC to occur, the de Broglie wavelength should be comparable to the interparticle separation.

This summer the group of Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman at JILA reported the first BEC for Rb-87. They achieved this by reaching a temperature of a few hundred nano-degree Kelvin by combining with evaporative cooling. The latter basically is to let the hotter atoms in the trap leave and thus to lower the temperature, a method used originally for the spin polarized hydrogen. They observe the formation of the condensate by turning off the laser and let the gas in the trap expand and then measure the velocity profile. The atoms in the condensate all in one state and expand with zero initial velocity, in comparison with atoms in the regular phase which have nonzero thermal velocity distribution. The velocity profile at different temperature clearly signals the onset of BEC.

Following the JILA's report in July, Randy Hulet at Rice University reported BEC in Li-7 in August, and Ketterle at MIT reported BEC in Na in November. Stay tuned, every laser cooling laboratory is in the game.

What can one do with the BEC condensate? It is a new state of matter. It is a coherent state of atoms. Who knows? The art of achieving BEC still has to be improved. At JILA the condensate has about 2000 atoms, while at MIT the number now is about 100 thousands. One can think many properties of superfluid helium can be explored in these condensates. But the challenge is to find new possibilities. For sure better theoretical understanding for BEC will emerge. Maybe nothing useful will come out, but the technique of achieving nanodegree Kelvins temperature probably will become "routine" and many high precision experiments can be anticipated.

I probably can follow this story closer if my students and postdocs do not keep sending me papers to read. The internet is great for you to reach someone, but it is also hard for you to get away. Jim, can this be counted as half a sabbatical then?

Chii-Dong Lin
University Distinguished Professor of Physics


Chris Sorenson The Condensed Matter Group has been very busy with a wide variety of activities highlighted by the hosting of the Midwest Solid State Theory Conference which was held at Cardwell Hall in October (see related article). This conference was a great success and brought scientists from around the country to "sweet home Kansas". Conference chair Talat Rahman and co-chairs Amit Chakrabarti and Gary Wysin worked hard running the show and are to be congratulated on a job well done.

Other group news includes two more years of NSF EPSCoR funding for Materials Science Research. This project involves the Department of Chemistry as well and brings a total of $1.7 million over a five year period. A campus-wide group of "calculationalists" (see related article) led by Rahman with Chakrabarti and Wysin obtained NSF funding for a new, state-of- the-art computer system for their theoretical machinations. Finally the "microscopic" experimentalist are happy with their (actually used - "hey buddy wanna buy a watch") new Philips CM12 electron microscope which will allow them to get an enlarged view of Nature at 750,000 X.

I am also pleased to report that Condensed Matter continues to thrive in the Physics Department at KSU with eleven extramural grants totalling over $1.8 million.

Chris Sorenson
Professor of Physics

Bruce Law Bruce Law gave an invited lecture on the "kinetics of wetting layer formation" at the 1995 Gordon Conference on the Chemistry and Physics of Liquids, at Holderness, New Hampshire.

He also received an NSF grant to study "Interfacial Phenomena at the Surfaces of Critical Ionic Mixtures". Critical Ionic mixtures exhibit unusual mean field behavior in the bulk which is not understood theoretically. The surface behavior of these mixtures has never been studied before.

Hyuk Pak and Bruce Law recently developed a new surface microscope which can measure the thickness of films on surfaces with monolayer thickness resolution and micron spatial resolution. They have applied for a patent for this device.

Mick O'Shea attended the 2nd International Symposium on Metallic Multilayers during September in Cambridge, England and presented a paper on magnetism in rare-earth multilayers and nanoscale particles. Prabhath Perera, a graduate student of O'Shea's earned his Ph.D. degree on "Magnetism In Very Thin Metallic Layers".

Hongxing Jiang Jingyu Lin The semiconductor research group at KSU Physics led by professors Jingyu Lin and Hongxing Jiang has further expanded the capabilities of their laser facility. Currently, the laser system has a tunability in the spectral region between 280-620 nm (from red to UV), repetition rate from single shot to 76 MHz, average UV power up to 1W, and time resolution down to 7 ps. This pulsed picosecond laser system has the highest average UV power in the world for semiconductor research. Today's KSU semiconductor group is one of the few groups in the world who can carry out research on the dynamics of fundamental optical transitions in almost all types of semiconductors. This unique facility has been recognized by many semiconductor research groups across the nation, which has resulted in active collaborative research programs with other universities, government laboratories, and industries.

This group has also established active collaborative research programs with a few of the nation's top crystal growers of today's hottest semiconductor materials, the group III-nitride wide band gap semiconductors (GaN, InGaN, A1GaN). These include APA Optics, Inc. and Honeywell Technology Center. Optoelectronic devices based on III-nitride including light emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes, which are active in the UV/blue region, have many applications, for example, in display, lighting, indicator lights, traffic signs and traffic signals. The UV/blue laser diodes are crucial for high density optical read and write technologies. Electronic devices based on III-nitrides are capable of operating at high temperature and high power conditions. In the past 12 months, these joint efforts on III- nitrides have resulted in 7 publications in Applied Physics Letters and an invited paper at the Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society. Additionally, these collaborative efforts have also provided some support to graduate students from industries and at the same time an opportunity for the group to work with industrial researchers and to identify critical practical problems so that our graduate students will be better prepared for the outside world.

Talat Rahman From June until August Talat Rahman worked in the Material Science Division at Argonne under the Faculty Participation program. Dr. Kara also accompanied her as a Research Associate. They continued their work on finite temperature studies of metallic systems.

Chris Sorensen continues to do particle physics: soot particles, their optics, morphology and formation mechanisms; and very small magnetic particles. His work is supported by NSF and NIST. His most recent student, Jiangping Chen, defended her Ph.,D. thesis in July and is now a post-doc at the University of Alabama doing magnetics research.

Gary Wysin In December Dr. Gary Wysin received a new grant from the National Science Foundation International Programs, titled ``U.S. -- Brazil Collaboration: Excitations in Two-Dimensional Magnets.'' The travel grant for $20,000 will support visits for Dr. Wysin and a student to Brazil during the next three years. They will collaborate with Beth GouvÍa and Antonio Pires at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on problems related to vortices and solutions in magnets. In addition, the Brazilian funding agency CNPq will pay for visits of the Brazilian colleagues to KSU.

During May and June Gary Wysin hosted magnetism experts Boris Ivanov and Alexei Kolezhuk from Kiev, Ukraine, to work on studies of the internal dynamics of magnetic vortices. They combined numerical diagonalization calculations with an analytical normal mode analysis of the way in which the spin degrees of freedom in a magnetic vortex vibrate. A new mode localized on vortices in antiferromagnets was found. Professor Ivanov's visit was funded by a COBASE (Collaboration in Basic Science and Engineering) grant from the National Research Council. Other colleagues visiting KSU and working on related topics during the summer included Armin Volkel from the University of Toronto and Beth GouvÍa from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horinte, Brazil.


Convex A high-end computing and scientific visualization facility, funded by the National Science Foundation with matching funds from KSU has been in operation since September 1995. It is housed in Cardwell Hall. The PI's for this project are Talat Rahman, Physics and Rodney Fox and Ken Shultis from Engineering. The facility has already become the computational workhorse for five faculty members in Physics and seven in Chemistry, Mathematics and Engineering whose research interests range from Modeling of Novel Materials, Atomic and Molecular Science to Fluid Dynamics.

At the heart of the facility is a state-of-the-art Symmetric Multi-processor consisting of thirty two processors of the Convex Exemplar SPP1000/1200 series. This is a 'shared-memory' system and is designed to perform fast mathematical operations using either the serial or the parallel architecture. This will serve as the server for large scale simulations and parallel algorithm development. The system can be upgraded to a maximum of 128 processors to accommodate future research and research training initiatives. Clusters of high-end workstations capable of performing high quality graphics and visualization have also been added.


Many members of the KSU physics faculty make their livings using computers to perform calculations and analyze the resulting data. During the past year we got more great advancements. The groups of Chakrabarti, C.D. Lin, Rahman and Wysin have added a total of five new Sun Sparc-20 workstations to the net. These machines have two CPUs, each of which is about 3 to 4 times faster than the older Sparc-2 CPU's.


In October 1995 the Department hosted the annual Midwest Solid State Theory Symposium, attended by researchers from the region, elsewhere in the U.S. and also Europe. Highlights were sessions on high-temperature superconductors, with Jack Dow of Arizona State, R. Klemm of Argonne, Tony Leggett of Illinois, and George Levin from Kent State, recent developments in large scale computational methods, with Lubos Mitas of NCSA, Richard Martin of Illinois, Norm Troullier of Minnesota, Kai Ming Ho of Iowa State, Bjork Hammer of CAMP, Denmark and a session on Statistical Mechanics of Condensed Phases with Elizabeth Behram of Wichita STate, Vladimir Antropov of Ames Laboratory, Aniket Bhattacharya of Michigan State and Paul Parris of Missouri Rolla. Michael Wortis of Simon Fraser was the keynote speaker. The Symposium was organized by Talat Rahman with the help of Amit Chakrabarti and Gary Wysin, and was funded by The Department of Physics, The College of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate School. Next year's Symposium will be held at University of Illinois.


Recognition of K-State's
COSMOS tau neutrino oscillation experiment as a national priority for high energy physics caps a successful year for the KSU HEP group that also saw a major infusion of talented newcomers, led by Assistant Professor Donna Naples, and intensified preparation for the upcoming run of the NuTeV experiment at Fermilab.

Donna Naples COSMOS, an international collaboration of 34 universities led by Bill Reay with Ron Sidwell, Noel Stanton, Tim Bolton, and Donna Naples, will search for evidence of oscillations of muon-type neutrinos to tau-neutrinos at an unprecedented level of sensitivity. Observation of such oscillations would compel the tau-neutrino to have a mass in the range of a few thousandths of a percent that of the electron-- enough to provide a major source of the missing ``dark matter'' in the universe. COSMOS and its companion experiment MINOS will take data around 2001 at Fermilab. The two experiments were subjected to an intensive review from the U.S. High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP), which considered the overall merits of the Fermilab neutrino oscillation program and the strength of MINOS and COSMOS relative to a competing proposal from Brookhaven National Lab. The result: a ringing endorsement of the physics and a selection of COSMOS and MINOS as efforts to receive high priority in high energy physics research in the U.S. over the next decade.

With the HEPAP endorsement in hand, COSMOS expects significant funding support for the construction of the 12.4 million dollar project. The KSU HEP group hopes to build several million dollars worth of particle detectors and associated electronics in Manhattan. An enormous step towards this goal was realized with the award of an NSF EPSCoR grant to a collaboration consisting of KSU-HEP and cosmologists at K.U. The EPSCoR grant will provide start-up funds for a new electrical engineer and a university-wide electronics shop, and will bring a new theorist to the K-State faculty specializing in cosmology and astrophysics. Searches for the two new positions are already underway.

Expanded efforts in COSMOS and other research efforts have attracted a number of new people to the group. Donna Naples joined us this Fall from Fermilab; she leads the precision calibration beam construction effort on NuTeV, KSU's ``other'' neutrino experiment, and plans to assume a major role in COSMOS detector construction. Towards this end, she has already submitted an Outstanding Junior Investigator Award proposal to the Department of Energy. Also joining the fun in KSU-HEP are post-docs Bruce Lowery, Dave Woods, and Shoichi Yoshida. Dave and Shoichi are already immersed in COSMOS detector R\&D in Manhattan, while Bruce is taking on multiple high-level jobs in the NuTeV effort at Fermilab. With four new graduate students, Andrew Alton, Joe Brazil, Jesse Goldman and Daniel Mihalcea, new undergraduates Joel Baker, Chris Hopkins, and Nicole Lorenz, plus new administrative assistant Beth Smith, the K-State High Energy Physics group now encompasses 23 full-time and part-time members.

While the building phase still dominates activities in the Cardwell basement, first results are beginning to trickle in from the physics and education fronts. We are very pleased to report the first two Physical Review Letter articles on elementary particle physics authored by K-Staters, an improved limit on searches for neutrino oscillations by Donna Naples and the world's most sensitive search for flavor changing neutral currents based on thesis work by Nick Witchey. The first advanced degree in particle physics will also shortly be awarded: an M.S. to Daniel Mihalcea for work on semi-leptonic charm decays. Finally, another ``first'' that excites us is the very successful injection of data analysis from our completed charm decay experiment Fermilab E791 into a new freshman physics class PHYS122 designed by Bill Reay and Joe Brazil.

Much more in the way of physics is expected over the next year as the NuTeV effort, led by Tim Bolton and Donna Naples, kicks into high gear with the start of its two year data taking run. NuTeV will carry out a set of precision measurements of the electroweak and strong coupling constants. K-State has outfitted the experiment with new photomultipliers for its calorimeter and leads two major projects, the precision calibration beam and the online/offline software. With data pouring into NuTeV and design and construction efforts taking off on COSMOS, we hope to have little free time on our hands for several years to come!


Dean Zollman The American Association of Physics Teachers has awarded KSU Physics Professor Dean Zollman one of its highest honors -- the Robert A. Millikan Medal. This Medal is presented annually to a member of the Association who has "made notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics." Dean Zollman was the thirty-first recipient of the award which was established in 1964. In addition to a silver medal, he received a certificate and $4,000.

In presenting the award to Dr. Zollman the Association recognized his efforts in several areas of research and development related to the teaching of physics. The citation which accompanied the Medal noted that he has been active in the development of computer and interactive video materials for over twenty years and has developed a model for the education of future elementary school teachers. The AAPT also noted that "Professor Zollman was instrumental in the development of the AAPT workshop program that has become a very important feature of our summer and winter meetings."

The Medal was presented at the AAPT Annual Summer Meeting which was held at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. As part of the award ceremony, which was attended by about 800 AAPT members, Dr. Zollman made a presentation, "Do they Just Sit There? Reflection on Helping Students Teach Physics." In this talk Dr. Zollman discussed several aspects of his work on the teaching of physics and how they related to contemporary students. A paper which is adapted from this talk appears in the February, 1996, issue American Journal of Physics.


Until recently the main purpose for non-science students to study quantum mechanics was for a better appreciation of its influence on modern thought. Now an understanding of modern physics is needed by people who will be making decisions about business and technology. Recent developments in miniaturization of electronics and nanotechnology bring into the business and engineering world devices which can be appreciated only through the principles of quantum mechanics. Likewise, in the past few years experiments have directly analyzed some of the fundamental paradoxes in quantum mechanics. Thus, an understanding of quantum physics beyond the level of a coffee table book is needed for the well-informed citizens and all types of professional in the 21st Century.

Recognizing the need to make quantum physics more accessible to a wide audience the Physics Education Group at KSU has begun a project to develop materials which will lead to an understanding of some aspects of quantum mechanics by students who do not traditionally study this topic. This project which is supported by the National Science Foundation is creating a series of teaching/learning units which utilize visualization techniques rather than require a knowledge of higher level mathematics, emphasize hands-on and mind-on activities that utilize inexpensive materials, combine written materials with interactive computer programs and digital multimedia, integrate the learning of quantum physics into physics curriculum, utilize a learning strategy in which students actively construct knowledge, illustrate the application of quantum principles to physical phenomena and modern technology. These units will provide a learning environment in which students obtain more than a cursory view of quantum physics.

Visual Quantum Mechanics, as the project is called, is a collaboration of the Physics Education Group and several other members of the department including C. D. Lin, Talat Rhaman, and Larry Weaver and their students. Others working on the project inlcude high school physics teachers and artisits who specialize in the design. The project is now searching for field testers for Visual Quantum Mechanics who would like to try materials in physics classes beginning next Fall. To obtain more information complete the form on the World Wide Web or send your name and address to:

Visual Quantum Mechanics Project
Department of Physics
Cardwell Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-2601

or e-mail: kim@bluegiant.phys.ksu.edu

Dean Zollman
Professor of Physics

Return to the Physics Home Page

This document prepared by Vincent Needham at vneedham@phys.ksu.edu.