Research

At the Physics Department at West Chester University, we are always looking for talented and motivated students to take part in research projects. Students are able to contribute to original research under the mentorship of a faculty member, learning lessons that extend beyond the classroom. Discussed below are fields of research that are being investigated.

Physics of Soft Matter

Physics of Soft Matter

Dr. Kevin B. Aptowicz

With the aid of optical microscopy, fundamental phenomena, such as freezing, melting, and glass formation are being investigated using systems of colloidal particles. This work is being done in collaboration with Arjun Yodh's group at the University of Pennsylvania.

Electron Transport in Nanomaterials

Electron Transport in Nanomaterials

Dr. Tianran Chen

We are exploring two novel nano materials: nanocrystal assemblies and three-dimensional topological insulators. The former have great promise for optoelectronic and photovoltaic devices, while the latter can be applied in spintronics and quantum computing. Our goals are to perform a detailed, theoretical analysis of the disorder effects on electronic transport properties of them.

Thin Films Growth and Characterization

Thin Films Growth and Characterization

Dr. Matthew M. Waite

We are investigating the growth and magnetization of silicon-manganese thin films for use in spintronics applications. In addition, we are using DC and RF magnetron sputtering in order to investigate the growth of FePt nanoparticles and to study the effects of N addition on the magnetic properties of these nanoparticles.

Computational Nanomaterials

Computational Nanomaterials

Dr. Anil K. Kandalam

We study gas-phase and supported nanoclusters, nanoparticles, and surfaces using quantum mechanics based computational methods. The main focus of this research is to have a fundamental understanding of the electronic structure, reactivity, magnetic, and optical properties of the nanostructures. This research is carried out in collaboration with experimentalists at Johns Hopkins and Univ. of Konstanz (Germany).

Photonics and Spintronics

Photonics and Spintronics

Dr. Brandon J. Mitchell

Dr. Mitchell uses Organo-metallic Vapor Phase Epitaxy and laser spectroscopy to grow and explore the optical, electrical and magnetic properties of rare-earth doped gallium nitride (GaN). This work is performed in collaboration with Prof Yasufumi Fujiwara (Osaka University) and Prof. Volkmar Dierolf (Lehigh University). Various microscopy techniques including atomic force microscopy are also utilized to explore the material properties of the samples.

High Energy Physics

High Energy Physics

Dr. Ian A. Morrison

Dr. Morrison researches topics in high-energy theoretical physics, classical and quantum gravity, and cosmology. His research aims to better understand the primordial universe, black holes, and quantum entanglement.

Astronomical Instrumentation

Astronomical Instrumentation

Dr. Robert J. Thornton

I work on the mechanical and optical design of astronomical instruments - telescopes, cameras, and spectrographs.  While my past work involved infrared instruments for studying stars and galaxies, in recent years my focus has shifted to millimeter-wave cameras for studying the cosmic microwave background radiation.  The two major projects I am involved with are the Atacama Cosmology Telescope and the Simons Observatory.

Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics

Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics

Dr. Anthony J. Nicastro

On-going studies of the mechanics of animal life, including the aerial maneuvers of spinner dolphins [Image by Bob Pitman] and death rolls in alligators. Also, investigating the long-term survival of bacteria trapped in geological formations whose genetic material is subject to damage from ambient ionizing radiation.

Radiation Damage in Nanomaterials

Radiation Damage in Nanomaterials

Dr. William H. Sawyer

Using the University's electron microscopes together with the Department of Physics' vacuum deposition equipment and atomic force microscope we are studying the effect of intense electron bombardment of nanocrystals using electron energies between 120 keV and 50 keV.

Orbital Stability in Planetary Systems

Orbital Stability in Planetary Systems

Dr. Jeffrey J. Sudol

In collaboration with Dr. Nader Haghighipour (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Dr. Sudol uses a network of computers to run N-body integrations of the evolution of planetary systems.

Experimental Biomedical Physics

Experimental Biomedical Physics

Dr. Shawn Pfeil

Dr. Pfeil develops and applies new experimental tools to understand the physics of biochemical systems. His research combines single-molecule fluorescence techniques, microfluidic mixing, and nano-fabricated structures. This work is done in collaboration with faculty at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Aerosol Particle Characterization via Elastic Light Scattering

Aerosol Particle Characterization via Elastic Light Scattering

Dr. Kevin B. Aptowicz

We are exploring the use of angularly-resolved elastic light to identify, or at least characterize, individual aerosol particles. This work is being done in collaboration with scientists at the US Army Research Laboratory and Yale University.

Physics of Liquid Crystals

Physics of Liquid Crystals

Dr. Anthony J. Nicastro

Exploring the physics of liquid crystals, especially in regards to optical, thermal, and high-field phenomena at phase transitions. [Image credit: Michael W. Davidson and Florida State University]

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