Kansas State University
Department of Physics
1997 Newsletter


 

Mick O'Shea

EDITOR'S CORNER 

It's December in Kansas and winter is arriving late this year - in fact it is arriving as I write this with temperatures near or below 0 C. Construction continued through 1996 on campus with the Art Gallery and the expansion of Farrell library nearing completion. The Farrell library expansion allows us to accommodate substantially more books and also allows for more student study area. The football team continues to play well with Kansas State going to the Cotton Bowl this year. By the time you get this newsletter you will probably know the result of this game!

Mick O'Shea, Editor

 

Jim Legg

NOTES FROM THE DEPARTMENT HEAD

Another year has passed and it's past time for me to write my yearly column about the happenings in the Department of Physics. A new Assistant Professor, Bharat Ratra, joined our faculty this year. Bharat, a cosmologist, comes to us from an MIT postdoc. Like many other people, we continue to watch the ways in which the Congress has been asserting itself. So far, the effect on our research funding is still not large; our department's extramural grants continue over $4 million per year.

This spring, we dedicated the John Giese Memorial Student Center and awarded the first John Giese Scholarship to William DeHaven and the first Louis Ellsworth scholarship to Jennifer Smith. The ceremonies were well attended, and the room that John lobbied for has been very well used by our undergraduates. Students in our Physics Club received two grants from the AIP for research projects.

Faculty and students continue to receive recognition for their excellent performance. Chris Sorensen received the second Schwenk Teaching Award from our Physics Club. The students retroactively awarded the first one to John Giese. Chris also received the Commerce Bank Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching this spring.

At the same commencement ceremony, Dean Zollman was named the Distinguished University Teaching Scholar for the year. This fall Dean was selected national Professor of the Year for Ph.D.-granting institutions. This award is sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education and administered by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Craig Caylor, the president of our physics club last year and a May graduate, is the runner-up for the 1997 APS Apker Award for Undergraduate Research at a Ph.D.-granting institution. Craig received this recognition for research done with Bruce Law; Bruce has a tradition of mentoring undergraduates in first rate research and it's good to see national recognition for Craig and Bruce. If I tried to list all the achievements, I would take over the whole newsletter and still, almost certainly, fail to mention one or two.

James C. Legg, Professor and Head,
Physics Department

 

Dean Zollman

K-STATE PHYSICS PROFESSOR NAMED UNIVERSITY TEACHING SCHOLAR

A Kansas State University physics professor who has earned national recognition for his creativity in teaching the subject has been selected as K-State's second Distinguished University Teaching Scholar.

Dean A. Zollman was recognized for his innovation and excellence in undergraduate teaching as the 1996-97 recipient of the University Teaching Scholar's Chair Award. The honor, first awarded last year to Clifton E. Meloan, a K-State chemistry professor, includes a $2,500 addition to base pay, release time, a graduate teaching assistant, a $1,500 discretionary cash award and a one-time allocation of $2,500 in state operating funds.

"At Kansas State University, we are committed to providing quality undergraduate teaching. Dean Zollman personifies that commitment in an outstanding fashion. He is very deserving of this honor." said K-State President Jon Wefald.

"Dean Zollman exemplifies the teacher scholar in a rigorous and definitive way. This is a necessary aspect of modern universities, as the stakes continue to go up in undergraduate teaching and learning." said James Coffman, K-State provost. Coffman established the University Distinguished Teaching Scholar's Chair in 1994 to reward and encourage excellence in undergraduate teaching at K-State.

A K-State faculty member since 1970, Zollman teaches both beginning and advanced physics courses as well as special physics courses developed for current and future teachers. As a researcher, he has worked to improve the teaching of physics to college, secondary and elementary students.

"Not only does Professor Zollman teach physics majors and future teachers, he is a world-famous researcher in the use of modern technology to improve teaching effectiveness," said James C. Legg, head of K-State's physics department.

With major funding from the National Science Foundation, as well as support from IBM, the Annenberg Corporation and other sources, Zollman has created several multimedia teaching tools for teaching physics at all levels using such technology as CD roms, videodiscs and digital video.

Among his earlier projects were the development of a computer program that helped students understand the Tacoma Narrow Bridge collapse; a videodisc showing students the link between sports and physics; and developing material on how a bicycle can be used to teach physics.

Zollman and several K-State colleagues are currently working on an NSF-funded project to introduce the concepts of quantum physics to high school and beginning college students. The project involves interactive computer simulations, digital video and hands-on activities.

As a teacher and through his research projects, Zollman said one of his major goals is to find ways to counter the negative attitudes many students have toward learning physics by giving them confidence in their ability to learn the subject.

"Students who feel that they cannot learn physics are unlikely to have a positive attitude toward attempting that learning." Zollman said. "As teachers of undergraduates we must recognize the problem and improve the attitude and particularly, increase the confidence which students have toward the learning of physics."

His creative contributions to teaching physics have earned Zollman several honors, including the 1995 Robert A. Millikan medal from the American Association of Physics Teachers, of which he is a member, and a Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award in 1992. Zollman also has received K-State's William L. Stamey Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching and a Fullbright Research Fellowship in 1989 to work on a physics instruction project in Germany and serve as a guest professor at the University of Munich.

Zollman co-authored the physics textbook, "The Fascination of Physics" and has made six video discs, a CD rom and written several refereed articles on physics education. His work has received international recognition and he has given invited talks in England, the Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Japan, China, the United Arab Emirates, Poland and several North American cities.

Zollman earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Indiana and his doctorate from the University of Maryland at College Park.

 

SEMICONDUCTORS RESEARCH

Hongxing Jiang The semiconductor research group at K-State, led by Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin, has initiated active research programs dealing with optical and electrical properties of III-nitride wide bandgap semiconductors. These semiconductors offer great potential for applications in highpower and high temperature electronics and UV/blue light emitters. The group's pioneering work on the dynamics of fundamental optical transitions and properties of p-type dopants in GaN has been recognized widely by the research community. Recently, the group has received four major grants (totaling $1.1 million over three-year period) from National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Army Research Office, and Office of Naval research for their III-nitride wide bandgap semiconductor research.

Between June and July Jiang and Lin also visited China for the first time after 15 years and initiated long-term collaborative research programs with Beijing University and the Semiconductor Research Institute.

Hongxing Jiang, Associate Professor
and Jingyu Lin, Assistant Professor,
Physics Department

Jingyu Lin
 


HOW TO MARKET YOURSELF TO INDUSTRY

For the past year and a half I have stopped at nothing in an attempt to find a job in the semiconductor industry in California. Here are a few pointers to help out those attempting similar adventures:

Vidhya Krishnamurthi

  • Complete you Ph.D. if you wish to make a career in academics or in the industrial sector. These people consider multiple postdoctoral qualifications as a limitation, not an asset. The longer you wait, the less "trainable" you are considered to be!

  • While taking your graduate courses, make good subject choices. Plasma Physics with some topics of CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) is a course that you can take from the Electrical Engineering department. If you are an atomic, molecular or high energy physicist, then complement your knowledge with a good course in semiconductor physics. Try and get a theoretical electron optics course introduced in the department.

  • Design and fabrication experience is mandatory if you wish to get a job as a Design or Development Engineer. Make sure that you do some instrument work during your graduate years.

  • Finally, but extremely important, your résumé should be written so that all the "key" words jump out at the hiring manager right on the first page. The résumé should be one page or, at the most, two pages long.

    Vidhya Krishnamurthi

     

    J. R. MACDONALD LABORATORY

    Pat Richard

    FUNDING

    The
    J. R. Macdonald Laboratory has just completed another exciting year of research. We have submitted our renewal proposal to the Department of Energy for research beginning in February 1997. The indication from DOE is that we will receive 1.955 million dollars for FY-97. This represents a 2% increase in funding which is good in view of the budget cutting efforts in Washington. This is the third year of our three year research proposal and therefore during the upcoming year we will be very busy proposing and justifying research to be done over the next three years, and entertaining an external scientific review panel, if things are done as in the past.

    Lew Cocke, Dea Richard and I made a trip last January to DOE, Germantown, to visit with Patricia Dehmer, the new head of the Office of Basic Energy Sciences to familiarize her more with the Macdonald Laboratory and to make a case for funds to help support our outside user program. We did make some progress in this direction in that she said we will be eligible for such funds in FY-98 if we meet certain criteria. The other very positive thing that came from the visit is the acquisition of 200 thousand dollars from Robert Marianelli, head of the Division of Chemical Sciences, for replacing our computer-based data acquisition system. Kevin Carnes has been busily involved with the development of the new system which will replace the four existing DEC computer based systems we obtained in 1985. You can ask him about the details. The prototype has been successfully tested and the new computers are on order. We hope to have the new system in operation during January '97.

    The laboratory also has received an FY-96 grant for 395 thousand dollars from the DOE Accelerator and Reactor Improvement Projects (ARIP) fund. This is our second grant from this fund. Tom Gray and Martin Stockli are busily using these funds to keep the tandem-LINAC and the CRYEBIS facilities at a state-of-the-art level. Martin with the help of Paul Gibson continues to make many improvements to CRYEBIS in order to accommodate new experiments and new users. They have developed new high charge ion beams and recently installed a fast pulsed beam extraction system. Tom Gray with the help of Bob Krause, Mike Wells, and Al Rankin, has used these funds to upgrade the tandem with a new improved column resistor chain, a new 64 position foil stripper, and a pumping system in the terminal of the accelerator. A new upcharge system is in the planning stage. Kevin with the help of Steve Kelly has installed on the LINAC the new RF electronics designed by Argonne National Lab. Vince Needham can condition and ready the LINAC much more efficiently with the new system. A new computer control system for the LINAC is also in the planning stage. There is more but no room here to discuss. Come visit us and I promise you a very interesting tour of the Lab.

    VISITORS

    As I reported last year the number of visitors, collaborators and users continues to rise. Since many of you know these people and since many are return visitors, a somewhat complete list follows:

  • Steve Lundeen, Charles Fehrenbach, and Dan Fischer,
      Colorado State University
  • Emanuel Kamber, John Tanis, and Peter Zavodszky,
      Western Michigan University
  • Hiro Tawara,
      Nagoya, Japan
  • K Langbein and H Haseroth,
      CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
  • W Morz and E Woryna,
      Warsaw, Poland
  • J. Krasa,
      Prague, Czech Republic
  • M Terasawa and T Sekioka,
      Himeji Institute, Japan
  • Bob DuBois,
      University of Missouri-Rolla
  • Jean-Pierre Briand, B Borsoni, and M Ramassamy,
      University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris, France
  • Mark Pieksma and Wuchun Wu,
      Oak Ridge National Lab
  • Gisela Dreschhoff,
      University of Kansas
  • S L Varghese,
      University of South Alabama
  • Eugene Rudd,
      University of Nebraska

    RECENT NEWS

    Itzik Ben-Itzhak has been on sabbatical leave in Israel and is expected to return to KSU in January. Lokesh Tribedi, Research Associate, returns to the TATA Institute, India, in March '97. He is working with Pat Richard and Eugene Rudd and has completed a set of experiments on the ionization of atomic hydrogen by high velocity high Z bare ions.

    Harald Braeuning from the University of Frankfurt is a Feodor-Lynen Fellow at KSU working on the Berkeley ALS experiments using the COLTRIMS apparatus to study complete photoionization and Compton scattering final state momentum distributions. Lew Cocke, Kevin Carnes and Pat Richard are the KSU collaborators on the primarily Frankfurt-KSU-Berkeley experiment. Gabor Toth, a graduate student with Pat Richard, will be graduating in January '97 and has accepted a job at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. Theo Zouros is on sabbatical from the University of Crete since June '96. His wife Maura is taking classes here and working toward a degree. Two of Theo's students, Emmanouil Benis and Marotese Voultsidou, are here at KSU working with him on setting up a new electron spectrometer system which he hopes to take to various accelerator facilities as a user. Hans Wolf and Wania Wolff are here on sabbatical leave from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They are working with Lew Cocke and Mohammed Abdallah on projection electron and recoil momentum spectroscopy using the CRYEBIS. Emil Sidky is a new Research Associate working with C D Lin. Emil received his degree with Ugo Fano and spent some time in Europe prior to coming to KSU. For the fifth consecutive summer we have hosted graduate students from the University of Dresden, Germany. Hilmar Preusse spent three months training with Martin Stockli on the CRYEBIS in the JRM Lab. Also for the fifth consecutive year, the Macdonald Laboratory hosted undergraduate students from around the United States who were participating in the NSF REU summer trainee program (8 students worked in atomic physics).

    I would like to tell you about the research being pioneered in the JRM Lab, but due to space limitations, all I can say is if you want to know about the creation of elliptic atomic states, talk to Professor Brett DePaola; if you want to know about molecular breakup and lifetimes of exotic molecular ions, talk to Professor Itzik Ben-Itzhak; if you want to know about the emission of electrons at the saddle point of the ion-ion potential in low energy collisions, talk to Professor Lew Cocke; if you want to know about resonances in electron-ion scattering determined from ion-atom collisions, talk to Professor Pat Richard and/or Professor Chander Bhalla; if you want to know about e-,2e- reactions in ion-atom collisions, talk to Professor Siegbert Hagmann; if you want to know about secondary recoil ion atom collisions, talk to Professor Tom Gray; if you want to know about ions scattering from surfaces, talk to Professor Uwe Thumm; and, if you want to know how hyperspherical coordinates can be used to describe three-body and four-body Coulomb systems, talk to Professor C. D. Lin. These are just a few items of interest. Come visit us and we can have a great time discussing these exciting scientific endeavors going on in the Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University.

    Pat Richard, Cortelyou-Rust Professor,
    Director, J. R. Macdonald Laboratory
    December 1996

     

    HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS

    Donna Naples Midnight passed three hours ago, but KSU Assistant Professor and DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Donna Naples is still wide awake. Typing a few commands into her computer keyboard, she examines an array of displays on the monitor, glances at another half dozen television screens out of the corner of one eye, and waits. A football field away, four refrigerator-sized power supplies respond to her computer commands and begin raising the electrical current by several tens of amperes in a forty foot line of dipole magnets aligned to thousandths of an inch precision on special stands built by Dave Hill of the KSU Physic Department's machine shop. Forty seconds later a beep signals that 20 trillion protons accelerated to an energy of 800 billion electron-volts have been kicked out of the Tevatron, the world's highest energy particle accelerator, and directed down a two kilometer long beam line. Travelling at a speed only infinitesimally less than that of light itself, the beam of protons splits six times over a distance of about a quarter of a mile, with a few hundred billion particles finally angling towards Naples. Striking a secondary target, this beam produces a spray of charged particles that are momentum selected, focussed, and passed through the dipole string that Naples has just adjusted for the fifth time this early morning. The bending provided by these final magnets deflects the remaining beam one more time through a bank of special tracking chambers, painstakingly assembled by Naples and KSU student Andrew Alton over the previous two summers. Their momentum "tagged" by the spectrometer, the few tens of remaining particles surviving in the beam head towards the huge assembly of detectors and target that constitute the NuTeV neutrino detector, their purpose: to establish the absolute energy scale of the detector to a few tenths of a percent and allow a new generation of tests of the strong and weak nuclear interactions. And the beam misses its one square-foot target. Naples winces, takes a bite of her bagel, and starts another tweak on this evening's beam tune.

    Meanwhile about a half-mile away in an adjacent beam line, KSU faculty member Ron Sidwell and research associate Shoichi Yoshida are also up late poring over the display of an oscilloscope that keeps telling them what they have known for hours already: their drift chamber amplifier is oscillating. Sidwell and Yoshida decide to try another configuration of ground connections and cable terminations. An electronics engineer could sure help with this problem; but in the meantime, they reach for their pliers and a roll of the experimentalist's universal tool, duct tape.

    Such is life at Fermilab during the current fixed target run, and the KSU High Energy Physics group wouldn't have it any other way. After five years of planning, building, and testing, the NuTeV experiment, with Naples and fellow faculty member Tim Bolton leading the K-State contingent, is about a third of a way through its data taking. With research associate Dave Woods and graduate students Alton, Jesse Goldman, and Max Gonchurov on the team, Bolton and Naples have already begun analyzing the data from this neutrino experiment and hope to have first physics results out by the end of 1997. Sidwell, Yoshida, and faculty members Noel Stanton and Bill Reay are putting the finishing touches on a second neutrino detector and its beam line preparing to run at Fermilab. The DONUT experiment, a very small collaboration led by a couple of young alumni of the Reay-Stanton OSU HEP group, will observe a few hundred interactions of a "tau neutrino" scattering from a nuclear target. As well as directly observing for the first time one of the six fundamental leptons in Nature, this experiment will provide crucial tests of the techniques and physics ideas that drive

    K-State's major research effort, the COSMOS experiment, scheduled to run at Fermilab after the turn of the century. COSMOS will be built and run by an international collaboration of physicists headed by Reay with active involvement of the entire KSU HEP group; its goal is to measure with unprecedented precision the mass of the very same tau neutrino. There is a mis-match between the observed and expected amount of matter in the Universe; maybe the source of this "missing mass" is light tau-neutrinos. The implications have cosmological significance.

    Bharat Ratra Or maybe they don't. Exercising his fundamental right as a theoretical physicist to thumb his nose at conventional wisdom, KSU's newest faculty member, Bharat Ratra, has proposed a theory that both explains the unambiguous experimental evidence that has accumulated for a nearly isotropically expanding Universe that started with a "Big Bang", and which eliminates the "missing mass" problem by pointing out that the mass may not be missing at all-- it may have never been there in the first place! Ratra's research is initially funded by a successful EPSCoR grant written by Reay and the HEP group that provides resources to enhance the scientific investigation of cosmology in Kansas at both the large scale astrophysical level and in the sub-microscopic domain of particle physics. While HEP is delighted to share Bharat with the entire KSU physics community, we take pride in our role in bringing such an outstanding young theorist in one of physic's most captivating disciplines to Manhattan.

    Also funded by the EPSCoR grant is the new KSU Electronic Design Laboratory. Headed by Tim Sobering, who was lured away from Sandia National Laboratory, and supported by HEP, JRM, Physics, and several other departments on campus, the EDL gives K-Staters in a variety of fields the ability to design and fabricate custom electronics for research and teaching right on campus. The shop is now open for business (and booked solid!) in Burt Hall, just next to Cardwell. Sobering is already nearing completion of a newly designed drift chamber amplifier (that will not oscillate!) and a device to measure wire tension in situ in a drift chamber. Both of these devices will be incorporated into the construction of new types of drift chambers for the COSMOS experiment being undertaken here in Manhattan by Naples as part of her OJI award.

    Particle detectors and other pieces of physics consist of more than electronics, and up to now there has been only limited space available in Cardwell for test and construction facilities. That will change soon as the new High Bay Facility, sited in the former home of the motor pool, completes its renovations. Funded jointly by the City of Manhattan and the University in a unique partnership spearheaded by Naples, Reay, and Jim Legg, the high bay facility will be ready for COSMOS and NuTeV detector construction by the first of the year. Additional space will also be available for the machine shop.

    Finally, we close by noting the departure of colleagues. Nick Witchey received his Ph.D. and now works in Oregon, and James Norris transferred to the KSU Math Department after earning a Master's degree. Arun Tripathi has also completed a highly regarded Ph.D. thesis and will depart for a post-doc position within a few months. Post-docs Bruce Lowery and Chong Zhang decided to leave academic physics for jobs in private industry. We felt uneasy about their leaving our field until we discovered how much money they make in their new jobs!

    Tim Bolton, Associate Professor

     

    K-STATE GRADUATE STUDENT WINS NATIONAL AWARD FOR RESEARCH

    Lawrence Escalada Lawrence Escalada, a Kansas State University curriculum and instruction graduate student and former Topeka High School and Highland Park High School physics teacher, was honored by the National Association for Research in Science Teaching for his masters thesis research.

    The association recognized Escalada at ceremonies during the annual meeting April 2, 1996 in St. Louis.

    For his master's thesis research Escalada investigated the effects on student learning and attitudes when they used interactive digital video in an introductory college physics classroom.

    He helped develop and evaluate the curriculum materials that use interactive digital video computer programs developed at KSU. The programs were created by K-State's physics education research group under the direction of Professor Dean Zollman.

    Elementary education majors participated in Escalada's study. They carried out a series of motion experiments that modeled real-life problems and recorded those experiments on video which was then captured on the computer hard drive.

    They were asked to perform various experiments, to capture video of these experiments and to analyze the captured motion from different frames of reference by using the interactive computer programs.

    "We found that students at all levels of computer experience ranging from novice to expert liked having the ability to perform an experiment and then view it again on video and analyze it more carefully later, "Escalada said. "We also found that the students were very comfortable with using these computer programs. There was no intimidation factor."

    The elementary education students studied motion-related physics concepts like conservation of momentum and projectile motion, Escalada explained. They modeled real-life scenarios by using dynamics carts and other equipment typically found in physics classrooms.

    Escalada helped develop activities that rely on familiar, concrete situations to illustrate the abstract concepts, for example, bumper cars at an amusement park or a human cannonball at the circus. The techniques associated with the interactive computer programs and activities got good marks from the students who rated them as very effective in helping them learn.

    "In developing curriculum materials that use current technology, it's very important that the technology be user-friendly and integrated into an activity-based environment in a way that lets students visualize difficult and abstract concepts," Escalada said. "If that is done, the learning becomes more concrete and relevant to their lives."

    Escalada graduated from Garden City High School in 1983. He received undergraduate degrees in physics and secondary education from Kansas State University and taught high school physics for four years in Topeka.

    He earned the master's degree at KSU in 1995, studying with Professor Dean Zollman. He is at work on a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, specializing in physics education research.

    Kay Garrett, Research News Director


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