Department of Physics
West Chester University
Chair: Anthony J. Nicastro
127 Merion Science Center
West Chester, PA 19383
At an altitude of 17,000 ft. in the Chilean Andes, the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) is one of the highest ground-based telescopes in the world. Dr. Thornton is currently on sabbatical to help design and build a new millimeter-wavelength camera, called Advanced ACT (AdvACT), for the telescope. This new instrument will unite cutting-edge polarization-sensitive detectors developed under NASA funding with the existing telescope to provide a combination of resolution, sensitivity, frequency and sky coverage unmatched by any current or planned instruments. AdvACT will answer questions about the origins of the universe, the properties of its massive contents, the formation of structures under the influence of gravity, and the nature of dark energy.
Dr. Bob Thornton has co-authored a study that has been published in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters. Titled "Detection of the Power Spectrum of Cosmic Microwave Background Lensing by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope", the article addresses the question of "Which theory best describes the beginning of the universe?" Article can be found here.
Congratulations Dr. Thornton.
We would like to welcome the new Physics faculty member, Dr. Tianran Chen, who is joining the department in Fall 2014. Dr. Chen joins the department as an assistant professor following her PhD work at University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on disorder effects on electron transport in nanocrystal assemblies and topological insulators. Dr. Chen will be teaching the Introductory Physics, PHY 130 this fall. Please stop by Merion 128 to say a quick hello and welcome her to the department!
The Environmental Sciences Division of the Army Research Office (ARO) recently awarded a grant to Dr. Kevin Aptowicz in the amount of $168,000 over three years. The grant titled Angularly-Resolved Elastic Light Scattering of Atmospheric Particles: Experimental Measurements and Model Verification blends the exploration of an unsolved puzzle in aerosol characterization with well-designed and pedagogically sound research projects for undergraduates. The scientific question at hand is deceptively simple: how do aerosol particles scatter light? The answer to this question turns out to be quite complex for a number of reasons but mainly because of the diversity of aerosol particles in the atmosphere. By using a newly devised approach to analyze single-particle scattering patterns, Dr. Aptowicz hopes to evolve our understanding of light scattering from atmospheric aerosol particles and provide urgently needed experimental data for light scattering model validation and refinement.
Dr. Aptowicz Awarded $200,000 NSF Grant
The Division of Materials Research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a grant in the amount of $204,000 over three years to Dr. Kevin Aptowicz to conduct research on the Origins of Mechanical Fragility in Disordered Systems.
His research, which will actively engage West Chester University undergraduate researchers, explores an open question in the field of condensed matter physics: `What is the link between the mechanical response of a disordered solid and the underlying structure and dynamics of the constituent particles?' The grant proposal underwent a competitive peer-review process and was awarded funds based on its intellectual merit and broader impact.
Modern Physics Study Abroad 2015
The Summer 2015 Modern Physics (PHY 240) Study Abroad Program is in the planning stages. For this program, we will speed the first 2 weeks of the 5-week summer session at West Chester University completing the first one-half of the course material and content. Then we will travel to London, England for the remaining 3 weeks of our course. Please let Dr. Waite know if you are interested or click here for more.- no committment is needed as of yet, but we need to know that there is enough interest to proceed.
Dr. Kandalam hosts conference on Clusters and Nanostructures
Dr. Anil K. Kandalam, Assistant Professor of Physics, recently organized an international conference, "5th Jekyll Island Conference on Clusters and Nanostructures." This conference was held at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island, Georgia from April 21 - 25, 2013. The conference focused on the unique properties of size-selected clusters and nanostructures and their applications in various fields of physics, chemistry, and materials science. About 40 leading researchers in the fields of cluster and nanoscience from 10 different countries attended this conference to discuss the current status of the field and to guide its future directions.
2012-2013 Physics Awards
Congratulations to those students who, at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, received WCU Department of Physics awards. The award recipients included physics majors Cody Borders, Eric Lechner, Desmond Frost, and Patrick Dozier. There were also thirteen students inducted into SPS, the Physics honors society. The yearly awards ceremony features a reception and colloquium, both of which are open to friends and families of the students being recognized. This year's colloquium was delivered by Dr. Phil Nelson, a Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania, who gave a talk entitled "Physics of Human and Superhuman Vision."
2012 Physics Awards
Congratulations to those students who, at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, received WCU Department of Physics awards. The award recipients included physics majors Ryan Margolis, Jacqueline Sugar, Michael Savoy, Ian Snyder, Curran Kneebone, and Christopher Weindel. The yearly awards ceremony features a reception and colloquium, both of which are open to friends and families of the students being recognized. This year's colloquium was delivered by Dr. Laurence A. Marschall, a Professor of Physics at Gettysburg College, who gave a talk entitled: "The Transit of Venus, The Space Race of of the 19th Century," in light of this year's transit event.
WCU Taking Part in 6-meter Telescope in Chile
For the past five years, Physics Professor Robert Thornton has been part of a collaboration led by Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania to build a 6-meter telescope in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The collaboration was recently awarded $10M to build a new instrument for the telescope.
The new camera, "ACTPol," is designed to detect the degree to which the Cosmic Microwave Background, the afterglow of the Big Bang, is polarized. Prof. Thornton and West Chester Physics students are be involved with the optical, mechanical, and cryogenic design of the estimated 1500-lb camera over the next several years.