Kansas State University
Department of Physics
1999 Newsletter

Mick O'Shea


As I write this over Christmas break, one of the mildest winters in many years is upon us. Hardly a trace of snow has fallen so far in Manhattan and temperatures at the end of the year were more characteristic of fall.

Campus is very quiet now that the fall semester is over. Several changes have occurred or are occurring on campus during the last year. A section of the engineering building was named Rathbone Hall for the long time dean of engineering Donald Rathbone, who recently retired. A major remodeling project for the K-State Union was also begun.

To everyone's great satisfaction the Wildcats played great football having one of their best seasons ever, winning nine of their ten games and going on to the Alamo bowl. The Wildcats lost to Purdue in the Alamo bowl, a disappointment but nevertheless a great season for the Wildcats. The Cats finished out the season 11-2 and were either 9th or 10th in the nation depending on whose poll you looked at.

By Mick O'Shea, Editor

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. Our research funding remains healthy, still approximately six million dollars per year.

Chander Bhalla has entered into a three-year phased retirement plan. In the summer, Donna Naples decided to accept an offer from the University of Pittsburgh. As a consequence we are conducting faculty searches for an atomic theorist and for a high energy experimentalist.

Because of the late departure of Donna, we needed help teaching our courses. Fortunately for us, John and Margaret Spangler were in the process of retiring back to Manhattan, and I was able to persuade John to help us out in teaching this year. It has been interesting teaching recitations for John again.

Physics faculty continue to receive recognition for their excellent performance. Chander Bhalla received the Schwenk Teaching Award from our Physics Club. Talat Rahman received the Commerce Bank Award Award for Distinguished Graduate Faculty this spring. Talat is also Faculty Senate president this year, a job that I felt like I barely survived last year. Talat is doing a great job, and shows much more aptitude for the job than I had.

Cardwell Hall continues to be altered; this process is not always an unmixed blessing. Our expanding research continues to require increasing laboratory space, which is not easy to find in Cardwell Hall. To improve fire safety and to provide disabled access for our three large lecture halls, a new (big) corridor was carved out of our lecture demonstration preparation room. Life is more cramped, and setting up large demonstrations requires more planning and effort.

We are talking about changing the format of our Engineering Physics course. We are talking about retaining the lectures but combining the recitations and laboratories into a studio environment. Most of the available research says that doing this will result in the students having improved understanding of important concepts. It will be interesting to see how the changes will go and whether they will result in significantly better understanding by the students.

By James Legg

J.R. Macdonald Laboratory

Martin Stockli

The J.R.Macdonald laboratory is in the second year of its current three year operating grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. It is now an official national DOE user facility, with users from various parts of the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

A program advisory committee, consisting of four outside experts in ion-atom and ion-surface collisions and one internal member, invite proposals every six months. The proposals are evaluated and awarded on the basis of scientific merit, and the experiments are scheduled during the following period.

Outside pressure on the facilities has been high. The two major facilities, the CRYEBIS ion source and the Tandem-LINAC accelerator, are heavily scheduled by both in-house and external users. Proposals typically request more running time than is available, but nearly all experiments with strong scientific merit are accommodated.

A major transition in the atomic physics faculty in the department has been the appointment of Martin Stockli to associate professor of physics. Martin, who was the father of our CRYEBIS ion source, now has teaching duties added to his already too busy schedule. This has required that we find additional help for the daily management of the EBIS. We were fortunate to be able to attract Charles Fehrenbach, who was previously a research associate from Colorado State University living at K-State, to this position. We are also in the process of interviewing candidates for a new theory faculty position in the K-State atomic physics group.

We have been invited to present a special exhibit on the JRM facilities at the March centennial meeting of the American Physical Society in Atlanta. Our major display, which has been coordinated by Tracy Tipping, Kevin Carnes, Vince Needham and Martin Stockli will allow attendees to take a virtual tour of the laboratory and to operate our CRYEBIS ion source from Atlanta using the internet.

CRYEBIS Research

Research projects abound. At the CRYEBIS, five beamlines are being heavily used.

Tandem-LINAC projects

The Tandem-LINAC facility is similarly heavily used. Here are some current projects:

For more information

These projects, as well as much more information on the laboratory, can be viewed at the JRM web page. The URL is http://www.phys.ksu.edu/area/jrm. We have Vince Needham to thank for putting up and maintaining this page.

Lew Cocke Associate Director for Research Planning

Research in Atomic and Surface Theory

Uwe Thumm Interactions between ions and surfaces are not yet well understood at a microscopic level despite their importance for applications in surface chemistry (catalyses, corrosion prevention), accelerator design, and controlled fusion devices. Similarly, the detailed understanding of electron--transfer and electron emission in collisions between ions and fullerenes is of relevance for future applications. These collisions yield information on the physical and chemical properties of fullerenes that may enable the successful syntheses of new materials (fullerene chemistry).

Uwe Thumm is continuing to work on the theory of ion-surface collisions, ion-cluster interactions, and slow electron--atom collisions. Drs. Bogdana and Cristian Bahrim joined him in February as post doctoral research associates. Both got their PhD (equivalent) degrees at the University of Paris XI specializing in the theory of ion--surface interactions (Bogdana) and the theory of slow ion--atom collisions (Cristian).

Bogdana is developing a new, non-perturbative ab-intio ion-surface scattering calculation that includes an interesting new continuum discretization method to represent continuous solid state electronic wave functions.

Cristian is working on the interaction of slow electrons with Alkali atoms within Uwe's relativistic R-matrix approach. Motivated by very recent experiments, Cristain is now extending this method to investigate photo-detachment of negative ions.

During April and May, Uwe was joined by one of his German collaborators, Jens Ducree from the University of Muenster, to continue work on a computer simulation that by now reproduces various recently measured observables during the interaction of highly charged ions with metal and insulating surfaces. Another visitor, Priv. Doz. Dr. Uwe Wille from the Hahn-Meitner Institute in Berlin, came to our department in October in order to work with Uwe Thumm on the emerging field of ions interacting with thin metallic films.

During the past summer, Uwe (again) spent several weeks in Europe to collaborate with colleagues at the Manne Siegbahn Institute in Stockholm on interactions of ions with Buckyballs (C60) and in Berlin to continue a collaboration on ion-surface scattering theory. During this trip he gave invited talks in Stockholm, Sweden; Aarhus, Denmark; Freiburg, Germany; Copenhagen, Denmark; and at the 12th International Workshop on Collisions involving Atomic Clusters, held in Sonderborg, Denmark in June.

In January 1999, Uwe presented an invited talk at the 12th International Workshop on Inelastic Ion--Surface Collisions, on South Padre Island, Texas.

Uwe's work is well funded. Apart from being attached to the Macdonald Laboratory block grant, he has his own NSF grant and recently received an award from the DOE office of fusion energy to investigate the simultaneous interaction of atoms and negative ions with both static and laser external fields.

Dean Zollman

Bicycle Project Unites Students Around the Globe

KSU is part of an international study program entitled Scientific and Cultural Aspects of the Bicycle: Investigations with International Teams Using Multimedia. Students enrolled in one of the partner institutions will become part of an international team that investigates various scientific and cultural aspects of the bicycle and create multimedia instructional materials about their activities.

Partner European institutions include:

Partner American institutions include:

Students become part of an effort linking international students by computer and bringing them together periodically to work face-to-face. Using state-of-the-art digital technologies--the Internet, world wide web, and desktop video--students will produce a CD based on the science, technology, and cultural aspects of the bicycle. Individual student projects range from a bicycle designed for the disabled to investigating the safety of different designs of bike helmets to developing an understanding of the way bikes are used in different places.

Student will spend approximately three months at their host institution during the project and work with fellow team members to study and test bicycle design or other projects, including the cultural aspects of bicycles.

The project is a multinational effort to collaborate on the adaptation and creation of pedagogical materials. Since the bicycle is a highly developed yet simple device, students and faculty can use materials developed in a variety of countries and create new materials using contemporary multimedia.

This effort began almost 15 years ago when Robert Fuller and Dean Zollman created the videodisc Energy Transformations Featuring the Bicycle. At about the same time, the PLON Project in The Netherlands developed the Traffic teaching module and the British Open University developed a course on Materials and Structures that featured the bicycle. These efforts were independent of each other. Since that time these groups have worked together to combine instructional materials from these and other countries, and they are looking to produce more of these materials.

Two grants are supporting the student and faculty involvement in this project. The U.S. participation is supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education. The European universities receive funding from the European Commission.

For more information

Check out our web site at http://www.phys.ksu.edu/perg/bicycle

By Kim Coy, Physics Education Research Group

High Energy Physics

Nineteen ninety-eight marked a year of great change for K-State high energy physics (KSU-HEP) as the group leaped from specialized fixed-target experiments to the high energy frontier of the D0 proton-antiproton annihilation experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory's Tevatron collider.

As so often happens in science, this did not come about by following a simple straight-line path. The year started on a high note as the data-taking phase of two successful neutrino experiments (called NuTeV and DONUT--never mind the acronyms) at the Fermi Laboratory (Fermilab) ended.


Alas, this auspicious beginning was followed by an unexpected jolt: the premature ending of the K-State-led COSMOS neutrino oscillation experiment. COSMOS was cancelled due the withdrawal from the experiment by a large contingent of physicists from Japan.

Conceived by Bill Reay, Ron Sidwell, and Noel Stanton nearly a decade ago, COSMOS would have shed much light on the central problem of neutrino mass and a host of other problems in neutrino physics. Others have borrowed many experimental ideas of COSMOS, and it is not improbable that this project will resurface in the future.

COSMOS's demise also precipitated the departure of assistant professor Donna Naples for a faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh. Donna simply did not want to give up on neutrino physics, and the opportunity to join like-minded colleagues at Pittsburgh, her alma mater, made it too tough for her to stay in Manhattan.

Our group has now suffered firsthand an all-too familiar phenomenon at K-State: a young scientist develops her talents and establishes her credentials (including a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator award) in the friendly environs of Manhattan only to be lured away by attractions of the academic free market. A search for Donna's replacement is now actively underway, and we have an outstanding pool of candidate replacements. We certainly wish Donna well at Pittsburgh.

DO Project

Meanwhile, even before the official end of COSMOS, we had begun receiving overtures from leaders of Fermilab's D0 project. Freed of other obligations, our group enthusiastically joined this world-class physics collaboration.

The D0 experiment studies collisions between protons and anti-protons at a center-of-mass energy of two trillion electron volts: the highest energy yet achieved in collisions using accelerators. It is a collaboration of over 400 physicists from dozens of universities, particle accelerators, and national laboratories spread throughout the world.

Making a splash in such a large operation is no mean feat, but within weeks of joining, K-State's Bill Reay was offered a leadership position in the construction of D0's sophisticated silicon tracking system. Fermilab wanted Bill so much that they picked up his entire salary and gave him a place to live at the lab for a year to entice him into joining the project's management team. Bill has put a lot of miles on his plane commuting between Manhattan and Chicago these past 12 months!

The Department of Energy (DOE), our main funding agency, gave K-State a big vote of confidence by renewing the group's research contract for three more years. K-State received overwhelmingly positive reviews in a tough new DOE judging procedure that pitted us in head-to-head competition with schools such as MIT and the University of Michigan. With support from the NSF EPSCoR program, Fermilab, K-State, and the Department of Energy, our yearly research funding has reached $1.1 million.

The entire group is now actively involved in D0 silicon efforts. Ron Sidwell is in charge of test stands, Noel Stanton is designing and testing very low-mass signal cables, and Tim Bolton is overseeing an upgrade of the High Bay Detector Facility. This building, which formerly held the university's motor pool, was renovated into a modern laboratory over the past three years using funds from the DOE, K-State, and the city of Manhattan.

Over a $150,000 of drift chamber tracking detectors were built in the high bay for the NuTeV and DONUT experiments. The facility is now being outfitted with a semiconductor-class clean room and a double-shielded low noise electronics alcove, in preparation for large-scale D0 silicon work. In addition, the physics shop uses the south end of the high bay for its computer-controlled milling machine, and we have even found room in the north end of the building for K-State's solar car club to build this year's edition of their sun-powered racer.

Electronics Design Laboratory

Another spin-off of KSU-HEP, the Kansas State Electronics Design Laboratory has also developed into a fine research facility. Started by the high energy group with funding from the NSF-EPSCoR program, EDL provides advanced electronic support for research and teaching at K-State.

Headed by engineer Tim Sobering, EDL has already designed and built a good deal of electronics for our KSU-HEP D0 effort, and has completed a number of projects for other groups both inside and outside the physics department. In fact, the EDL reputation extends beyond the university. Acting Vice-Provost for Research Ron Trewyn will soon discuss EDL activities with Kansas senator Pat Roberts.


Meanwhile, graduate students Drew Alton, Jesse Goldman, and Max Goncharov are busy analyzing NuTeV data as part of their Ph.D. thesis projects. Under the supervision of Tim Bolton and post-doc Todd Adams, Drew, Jesse, and Max have already produced preliminary measurements that they presented at last year's APS conference. Todd and Tim were selected by the NuTeV collaboration to present some of the experiment's first results at the prestigious International Conference on High Energy Physics, held in Vancouver, British Columbia this past summer.

Todd will shortly depart for the tough assignment of presenting more NuTeV results at a conference in the French Alps. We have a fourth student, Patrick Berghaus, living at Fermilab. Patrick works with Bill Reay, Ron Sidwell, and K-State senior post-doc Mikhail Kubantsev on instrumentation for D0, and also analyzes data from the DONUT experiment.

Two other graduate students, Daniel Mihalcea and Shih-Wen Yang, left us this year with their degrees--the very first Ph.D.'s awarded for high energy physics at Kansas State University. Daniel and Shih-Wen wrote theses concerning the investigation of an important type of decay of "charmed" particles. Daniel has accepted a post-doc position with the University of Oklahoma, and Shih-Wen now works for Lucent Technologies in New Jersey. We are sure they will enjoy success in their new undertakings.

Tim Bolton, High Energy Physics


Amit Chakrabarti Chakrabarti presents at APS meeting

Amit Chakrabarti gave an invited talk at the March 1998 Meeting of the American Physical Society in Los Angeles on thin films of a special type of polymer called block copolymers.

He also gave another invited talk at the Dow Chemical Corporation in Freeport, Texas. The subject matter of this talk was phase behavior of polymer blends, which have major industrial applications.

News from Talat Rahman's Group

Talat Rahman Talat Rahman was the recipient of the 1998 Commenrce Bank Distinguished Faculty award, and also was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

She spent a busy summer at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Gessellschaft, Berlin, Germany, at the invitation of Professor Gert Ertl, who is one of the directors of the institute. Talat was engaged in a joint experimental and theoretical study of anharmonic effects at metal surfaces.

Of particular interest were the measurements of surface thermal expansion, and temperature dependent vibrational frequencies on the closed-packed surfaces of Ag, Cu, Ni and Pd. Experimental techniques like low energy electron diffraction and He-surface scattering were complemented by molecular dynamics simulations using realistic interaction potentials.

September 1998 brought news that Talat had received a three-year grant from the US Department of Energy to examine the phenomena of friction and adhesion at the atomic level. This will be a collaborative theoretical and experimental effort between Dr. Rahman's group at K-State and Dr. Salmeron's at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California-Berkeley.

Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin plan Chinese conference

H.X. Jiang J.Y. Lin Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin visited China between July and August, 1998. They co-organized, with Peking University, the "International Topical Meeting on III-V Nitride Materials and Devices". The meeting went well and covered recent progress in these very exciting semiconductor materials.

Many wonderful sightseeing programs--including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, etc.--were also arranged.

The metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) in the semiconductor group has been running for more than six months. High crystalline quality and purity GaN and AlxGaxN epilayers have been produced by the system. They are now planning to upgrade the system for the purpose of growing GaN related multiple quantum wells and superlattices.

With an additional DoD grant, an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) dry etching facility has just been installed. This quarter-million dollar system will enable them to fabricate many optoelectronic devices and structures down to 1 micron size.

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