Kansas State University
Department of Physics
1998 Newsletter

Mick O'Shea


Our campus and our physics department continue to be very active places. I took a tour of our new library facility,
Hale Library, and was impressed with the amount of space that has been added for books and for student study areas. Hale Library building dominates the center of campus and is a "must see" for any visitor to our camput. I have heard rumors recently that an addition to Durland Hall, which houses the Engineering College, will be made.

The K-State football team had another great season and ended it with a victory over Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Eve. Manhattan turned into a ghost town while Tempe, AZ and surrounding areas became a sea of purple!!!!

By Mick O'Shea, Associate Professor

Jim Legg


Another year has passed and as usual it's past time for me to write my yearly column about the happenings in the Department of Physics. A new Associate Professor, Martin Stockli, joined our faculty this year. As many of you know Martin is not totally new; he has been a Research Associate Professor in the Macdonald Laboratory. Our research funding remains healthy, going over six million dollars for the first time in fiscal 1997.

A university honor reflects well on the department. NSF had a new competition for awards honoring a university for integrating teaching and research in science and technology. Dean Zollman and Provost Jim Coffman were the co-PIs for the Kansas State award, one of ten given to Ph.D.- granting institutions. It is also certainly true that the work of Tom Manney, who retired this last year, contributed a lot of strength to our case.

Faculty and students continue to receive recognition for their excellent performance. Brett DePaola received the third Schwenk Teaching Award from our Physics Club. Chris Sorensen received the Commerce Bank Award for Distinguished Graduate Faculty this spring; coupled with his Undergraduate Teaching Award last year, he's pretty well swept the boards. Lew Cocke was named a University Distinguished Professor; there are now four in the department. Jonathan Winkler has just been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.

Again, these are only a few of the honors for people in the department. 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.

I was fortunate to see a few old faces on visits to KSU this last year. Chuck and Betty Kay Hathaway brought their basketball team to play KSU this winter. For those who've lost track, Chuck is now Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. There was a little time for reminiscing by various of us old hands; it was really a pleasurable visit.

Finally, there's been another change over the last couple of years. Our major lecture halls, Cardwell 102 and 103, have been transformed into "High Tech Classrooms." They really look and sound much nicer. Our only question now is whether some of us old tech faculty can take full advantage of the new bells and whistles. As problems go, that isn't bad!

By James Legg, Department Head


The Physics Education Research Group at Kansas State University has had an exciting year since we last reported on our efforts and achievements. Professor Zollman gave a lecture entitled "Atoms Through the Ages" at the Smithsonian Institute in May of this year as part of the 1996 Professor of the Year award by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He was honored at a reception during October of 1996 in Washington, D.C., by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. A $5,000 cash prize, media exposure and a certificate of recognition were included with the award.

In February Professor Zollman and Provost James R. Coffman received an award on behalf of the University for activities related to integrating teaching and research in the sciences. This Recognition Award for Integration of Research and Education was the first of such awards made by the National Science Foundation. All 136 research universities in the United States were eligible. K-State was one of only 10 research universities in the nation to receive this one-time award. Each university received a $500,000 reward to be spread over three years. In addition to Zollman's work with teaching quantum mechanics the Award recognized Tom Manney's efforts to bring contemporary genetics research to school teachers. The GENE project has been part of the Department's effort in this area for many years. A third component involved an elementary education program of which Concepts of Physics is part.

Software Design Awards

The Eighth Annual Computers in Physics Educational Software Contest will award N. Sanjay Rebello, postdoc, along with Dean Zollman, Lawrence T. Escalada and programmer Chandima Cumarantunge, first prize for "Energy Band Creator". The group will also receive honorable mention for "Scanning Tunneling Microscope" by N. Sanjay Rebello, Dean Zollman and programmer Konstantin Sushenko, and "Wave Function Suite" by N.Sanjay Rebello and Dean A. Zollman along with programmers Chandima Cumaranatunge and Gary Dong.

The contest encourages excellence in educational software. Entries are evaluated by a distinguished panel of judges, and Computers in Physics provides cash prizes and honorable mentions to the winning contestants. The awards will be presented at the 1998 Winter Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in New Orleans. This year will be the second consecutive year in which the KSU Group has received both a top prize and honorable mention in this contest.

Dean Zollman

Zollman Sabbatical

Professor Zollman is on sabbatical leave from KSU this year. He is at the University of Colorado at Boulder for the fall semester. He has received a Fulbright grant to study at the federally funded Institute for Science Education located at Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, next spring. While there, Zollman will work with Manfred Euler who visited KSU in 1995.

Professor Euler, like Zollman, has developed materials to help students better understand physics. His work focuses on the physics and biophysics of hearing, the perception of sound, waves and wave motion. Prof. Zollman's work includes materials on waves and wave motion. They will look at these two different sets of materials and try to bring them together, focusing on making two different sets of teaching materials work together to teach topics related to waves.

Staff Changes

The Physics Education Group would like to note the departure of several colleagues. Lawrence T. Escalada received his Ph.D. and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa. Heidi Mauk Gruner completed her Ph.D. and graduated in May and is teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. Teresa Hein also finished her Ph.D. and graduated in May and is currently an assistant professor at American University in Washington D.C.

Michael Thoresen has joined the Physics Education Research Group at KSU as a postdoc. He is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona and will be working on the Recognition Award for Integrating Research and Education.

By Kim Coy, Physics Education Group


The faculty of the Macdonald Laboratory prepared its three-year Renewal Proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy, DOE, in the Spring of 1997. The proposal is built on the success of our research program in ion-atom collisions using the highly charged ion beams from the tandem/LINAC, ION-ION, and CRYEBIS facilities.

An outside review team consisting of five atomic, molecular and optical scientists and two DOE contract monitors were at KSU in November to examine the atomic physics programs in the Macdonald Lab. The preliminary report from the review panel is that the internal research program is outstanding and that the laboratory effort to maintain an outside user program is also outstanding. It concluded that the laboratory user program could benefit from additional resources.

The panel also noted that the accelerator improvements provided by DOE ARIM funds greatly benefited the laboratory and should be continued in the future.

We received notice from DOE during the first week of January 1998 that our grant has been renewed for the next three-year period with small increases in funding each year. All of us in the Macdonald Lab are excited about these next three years and invite any of our past colleagues and students to drop by and see us whenever possible.

In my group we continue to make new discoveries in the area of electron-ion physics from our experiments in ion-atom collisions. Recently we have demonstrated the excitation of triply-excited states in three-electron ions formed in electron-ion scattering. Triply-excited states is a hot topic in neutral atom excitation. We also made the first observation of super-elastic scattering in electron, highly charged ion scattering. This observation takes advantage of metastable ion beams. This is the result of work with Peter Zavodsky, Research Associate, and Gabor Toth, a former student, who is now a Research Associate at Western Michigan, and also in collaboration with John Tanis, Professor of Physics at Western Michigan.

Two hot topics that we presented in our Progress Report are the observation of new recoil-ion electron emission symmetries observed in the ionization of atoms by low velocity projectiles and the observation of new features in the electron emission spectra from high velocity ions traversing a carbon foil. The former observation is the result of the COLTRIMS work performed by Professor Lew Cocke's group and forms the thesis of Mohammad Abdallah.

The latter topic on the electron emission from carbon foils featured very narrow jets of electrons observed in the forward and backward emission directions. The jets are interpreted as the channeling of electrons in the plasma-like wake of the projectile track in the material. It offers the opportunity to measure some properties of ions moving in solids that have not been previously characterized. This work was done by Professor Siegbert Hagmann and formed the thesis of Thorsten Zaepfel. It was a collaborative effort with Professor Horst Schmidt-Boecking from Frankfurt, Germany.

I don't have space here to tell you more about what is going on in the JR Macdonald Laboratory. As it is I have slighted some of my colleagues by not mentioning their exciting work as well, however you can read all about it in our recent Progress Report to DOE. It is a 161 page testament with a very colorful cover. If you would like a copy, please write to me and I will send you one.

Best wishes for a successful and happy 1998.

By P. Richard, Director, J.R. Macdonald Laboratory, Department of Physics, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-2601

Gary Wysin


We are mostly familiar with ferromagnetic materials (such as in computer disks) where exchange forces keep microscopic magnetic moments or spins aligned, and strong uniaxial or Ising-like anisotropic forces choose the particular direction.

There are other magnetic materials, however, where anisotropic exchange interaction between spins makes the Z-axis a hard (high energy) direction, causing them to prefer to lie in the XY plane. This gives rise to various exotic spin configurations: vortices. A vortex is simply a region where the spins point in a circulating pattern within the XY plane. They are interesting not only because they are known to play the major role in phase transitions, but also because they can move around like particles, keeping their appearance. Gary Wysin spent the last year on sabbatical at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, continuing to investigate magnetic vortices. There he worked with Beth Gouvea and Antonio Pires, who have continued to do research on theory of magnetic vortices, and methods for analyzing phase transitions in magnetic models. The trip was funded partly by an NSF International Programs grant and also by CNPq and FAPEMIG in Brazil. In one set of calculations, new schemes for calculating the internal modes of vibration of vortices or other localized spin objects were developed. Numerical calculations of the vortex normal modes were compared with long-wavelength approximate methods of the UFMG group, especially to study a localized mode of vibration that appears on vortices in antiferromagnets. Monte Carlo calculations were used to study the phase transition in models of chains of magnetic ions weakly coupled together, what is really an anisotropic three-dimensional XY model. In a collaboration with Brazil and Germany, localized solutions in two-dimensional uniaxial spin models were studied. GMW also polished his c-programming skills and developed a UNIX X11 program to demonstrate how the spins in a two-dimensional XY model are updated in Monte Carlo and spin-dynamics simulations (integration of dynamic equations for the spins). If you want to try it out, you can download the source from his web page (www.phys.ksu.edu/~wysin/xmc.zip).

Graduated student Dimitre Dimtrov also made the trip to UFMG and spent one month there making simulations to measure the lifetimes of vortices while he wasn't enjoying the churrasco. He has finished his KSU PhD degree, with the Thesis: "Numerical Studies of Surface Effects in Fine Magnetic Particles and Lifetime of Vortices in Two-dimensional Easy-plane Magnets." Now he works at Los Alamos National Lab with Alan Bishop in the theoretical division.

By Gary Wysin, Associate Professor

Hongxing Jiang Jinyu Lin


Our semiconductor research group, led by Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin has just completed building a MOCVD system (see picture) for the growth of epitaxial films and quantum well device structures of III-nitride wide bandgap semiconductors. The price tag for similar commercial systems is between 3/4 and 1 million dollars.

Several visiting professors from Beijing University have helped a great deal during the process of building the MOCVD system.

As everyone probably already knows, the competition for III-nitride semiconductor research is extremely severe, as these materials offer great potential for applications in high-power and high-temperature electronics and uv/blue light emitters. This new state-of-the-art growth system together with the existing optical and electrical characterization facilities in our laboratory will place us in a unique position to make important contributions to the exciting nitride field.

The funding for our III-nitride semiconductor research is still going very strong. With an additional Department of Defense equipment grant, we added a $140,000 streak camera to the laser spectroscopy set-up, which improved the time resolution of our optical measurement facility to about 2 picoseconds.

One of our graduate students, Matt Smith, defended his Ph.D. thesis in March 1997 and accepted a postdoc position at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

By Hongxing Jiang, Associate Professor and Jinyu Lin, Associate Professor


Chris Sorensen has been busy with two major service related projects this past year. First, he is the Director of the Program for Complex Fluid Flows, an eight-member collaboration of physics and engineering faculty at KSU. The purposes of CFF is to bring together faculty with interests in complex fluids, i.e., turbulence, reacting flows, polymers, multiphase flows, flames, etc. The Program is actively seeking avenues for joint funding and establishing an interdisciplinary graduate student training program. One recent success was the award of an NSF EPSCoR grant to establish "The Kansas Program for Complex Fluid Flows" in which five faculty from Wichita State University and the National Institute for Aviation Research and one from university of Kansas will join our team. This promises to be an exciting new academic program for the State of Kansas.

Sorensen's other major activity was to serve as the Conference Chair for the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the American Association for Aerosol Research, October 12-17 in Denver, CO. This was a year long project and took a lot of time; but it was well worth it, with 588 attendees and over 500 papers, the conference was the most successful to date.

Sorensen is still active in research and teaching.

By Chris Sorensen, Professor

HEP Logo


Kansas State high energy physicists spent much of 1997 either going to "the Lab", coming back from "the Lab", or, more to their liking, taking data at "the Lab."

"The Lab" is Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located an hour or so west of Chicago-- or just a mile north of Aurora for you Wayne and Garth fans.

All the comings and goings were focussed at running two neutrino experiments, "DONUT", a small experiment designed to directly observe the tau-neutrino for the first time, and "NuTeV", a "Rutherford scattering" type experiment using the very high energy sign-selected neutrino beams at Fermilab. Arduous efforts in these eighteen month experiments were successful on all fronts.


Nature appears to have provided us with three families of electron-like objects - the electron, muon, and tau. Each of these charged particles has an associated neutral neutrino particle, making a total of six fundamental leptons. Of these, only the neutrino partner of the tau has yet to be directly observed. DONUT should have a sample of 20-50 events buried in their raw data that will display the clear signature of a tau lepton in the final state - direct evidence of an interacting tau-neutrino. If seen, these events will complete the direct identification of all of the basic building blocks of Nature that we know about: the six leptons and their six quark cousins.

A notable KSU effort on the experiment was the construction and deployment at Fermilab of two large area, precision drift chambers. These chambers were built in the Physics High Bay Facility here in Manhattan, with most of the hands-on work performed by KSU under-graduates under the direction of Noel Stanton.

KSU efforts at Fermilab were directed by Ron Sidwell, and included major contributions from research scientist Mikhail Kubantsev, post-doc Shoichi Yoshida and grad student Patrick Berghaus. In addition the newly-established Electronics Lab, funded by an NSF EPSCoR grant, supported the detector construction with circuit boards and voltage distribution modules.


NuTeV was also heavily engaged in the detector construction business at the High Bay. Donna Naples, post-doc Dave Woods, and grad student Drew Alton led an able team of undergraduates in the construction of two very-large-area "jet" chambers. These devices, funded by Naples' DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award, were then moved to Fermilab and successfully tested in the NuTeV calibration beam.

Our KSU crew of post-doc Todd Adams and grad students Jesse Goldman and Max Goncharov meanwhile spent thousands of hours operating the NuTeV neutrino detector and its beam lines.

NuTeV's goal was complementary to DONUT. Rather than measure properties of building blocks, the leptons, it concentrated on aspects of the forces that hold the blocks together. Specifically, NuTeV logged a large, well-calibrated data set that should help understand the strong nuclear force (which holds protons and neutrons together) and the weak nuclear force (responsible for radioactivity) at a level that begins to approach that of our understanding of the electromagnetic force.

All graduate students are back in Manhattan and busy with the data analyses that will lead to their theses. This work will be done using a powerful computing network we have built up using ordinary (cheap) PC's running either Windows NT or Linux, thanks to help of our undergraduate computer guru Clay Crouch. We look forward to a wealth of physics results emerging from K-State over the next eighteen months from the neutrino experiments, and from ongoing analysis of charm physics by grad students Shih-Wen Yang and Daniel Mihalcea!

Staff Changes

We close with an update on personnel. We lost our crack team of Smiths: Beth, our administrative assistant, and Jeff, our computer systems manager. Both have gone on to excellent private sector jobs in Ohio. Beth has been ably replaced by Kathleen Pierce, our new A.A., helped along by super-student Nicole Lorentz. Post-doc Dave Woods left our group for a job in industry, and we welcomed new post-doc Todd Adams. We also graduated two students, Arun Tripathi, who has taken a post-doc with UCLA at Fermilab, and Frank Steffan, who completed a Master's degree and returned to Germany for further study. Finally, Donna Naples has added a new political portfolio to her activities here: she was elected by the national membership to the executive board of the Division of Particles and Fields of the APS.

By Tim Bolton, Associate Professor


Bruce Law spent 2.5 months in Europe visiting and collaborating with various colleagues. He was mainly based at Department de Recherche Fondamentale sur la Matiere Condensee, Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique a in Grenoble, France where he worked with Jean-Marc Petit and Daniel Beysens on a new theory of adsorption-induced colloidal aggregation.

For the past 12 years Beysens and co-workers have observed that colloidal particles, placed in a homogeneous binary liquid mixture, segregate out of solution on approaching the phase separation temperature of the liquid mixture. Up until now no coherent theoretical explanation has been available which could explain these experimental findings. This work could have important implications for many industrial and biological processes where colloidal particles play an important role; if any impurities (which are always present) are surface active they may be able to screen the repulsive interaction thus causing colloidal aggregation.

Bruce Law has developed a new type of surface microscope called an ellipsometric microscope. It has the ability to study the thickness variation of thin films on surfaces very precisely. This instrument has monolayer thickness resolution and micron spatial resolution and can collect data from 250,000 points on a surface in a matter of a few seconds. The instrument will be used to study the influence of surface interactions on the shape of very thin liquid droplets. Such a study will be important in the understanding of surface wettability, lubrication, and friction.

By Bruce Law, Associate Professor


K-State Hosts 45th Midwest Solid State Conference

The Department of Physics hosted the 45th Midwest Solid State Conference October 3-4, 1997. This conference draws together faculty and graduate students from midwestern universities to exchange ideas on areas of current research interest in Condensed Matter Physics.

Attendance was approximately 70 people, and papers spanned Biophysics, Semiconductors, Magnetism, Surfaces and Liquids. The conference was organized by Drs. Mick O'Shea and Amit Chakrabarti with lots of assistance from Marilyn Woodward in Continuing Education and was sponsored by the Department of Physics, Graduate School and the College of Arts and Sciences. Although a lot of work, this conference was well worth the effort since it brought in a number of invited speakers who were expert in their fields.

The conference also gave our graduate students some experience in presenting their results at a physics conference. Out students gave eight of the total of 39 presentations at this conference.

O'Shea Attends Materials Science Conference

Mick O'Shea attended the First Conference on Materials Science at Mu'tah University in Jordan November 1-4, 1997, as an invited speaker. Mu'tah University is currently building up its research in the physical sciences and this conference was to bring scientists together to discuss research topics of interest to Mu'tah University.

The sessions were long with lots of invited papers with a number of them in Arabic and French. They were still understandable since the mathematics used is a universal language!

I also had a few hours each day for sightseeing and a great highlight was to see Petra, a city carved into sandstone. It had numerous houses carved out of solid sandstone and a number of larger temples. Remember the temple in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"? It's in Petra (at least the outside shot used in the movie is)! I look forward to my next visit to Jordan which I hope is not too far into the future.

European Colloid and Interfacial Science Conference

Amit Chakrabarti was a Keynote Speaker of the 11th European Colloid and Interfacial Science (ECIS) conference which took place on September 15-19, 1997 in Lunteren, Netherlands. Chakrabarti also gave invited talks in University of Wageningen and University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

 Go back to the top.
 Physics Home Page