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Applied Nanomaterials Research Lab

Current research interest of Biswas group is on fabrication of nanometer scale materials for emerging technologies. We study the fundamental mechanism behind the nanomaterial formation and the nanomaterials properties using high resolution microscopy, optical and infrared spectroscopy, and diffraction. Recent years we have explored:

  • Block copolymer nanostructures as a template for inorganic nanofabrication
  • Oxide nanopatterns
  • metal (Au) nanoparticles of symmetric and asymmetric shapes
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy for understanding the growth mechanism
  • Spherical monodisperse colloidal Si nanoparticles synthesis

Contact Information

Dr. Mahua Biswas
Applied Nanomaterials Research Lab

Atomic Physics with a Twist

In three primary research directions, we probe the inner workings of atoms and the brain through computational research in atomic collisions, ultrafast physics, and neuroscience.  In atomic collisions, we study how new matter wave forms, known as twisted electrons, interact with atoms and how these exciting and strange particles differ from their untwisted counterparts.  In ultrafast physics, we use sculpted laser pulses to study processes such as above threshold ionization, tunneling ionization, and high-order harmonic generation to find efficient methods of generating atomic states for use in quantum computers.  In computational neuroscience, we study neuronal interactions at the cellular level to understand the role of genetic mutations in triggering migraines.

Contact Information

Dr. Allison Harris
Dr. Allison Harris Website

Biophysics: Computational Neuroscience and Non-Linear Dynamics

This research in non-linear dynamics has a special emphasis on synchronization of complex systems. A particular complex system of interest is the neuron, which plays a major role on the survival of many species.

Synchronous networks of neurons are critical in mechanisms associated with rhythmic motions in the stomach of crustaceans, in neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, depression, and in many processes associated with circadian rhythms.

In the brain, synchronization is also directly related to memory and information processing.

Contact Information

Dr. Epaminondas Rosa
Dr. Epaminondas Rosa, Jr. Website

Chaotic Waterwheel

The Chaotic Waterwheel group studies the nonlinear dynamics of a simple mechanical system known as the Malkus (or sometimes Malkus-Lorenz) waterwheel.

Our waterwheel serves as a data supplier and demonstrates chaos. Researchers for this project are improving the waterwheel to be closer to a thought experiment.

Contact Information

George Rutherford

Condensed Matter Theory

We investigate the quantum mechanical aspects of the heat, charge, and spin currents at the nanoscale with an emphasis on strongly correlated and molecule-based systems. Our research bridges the fields of condensed matter physics, chemistry, quantum optics, and electrical engineering, and focuses on novel energy conversion devices.

Contact Information

Dr. Justin Bergfield
Bergfield Research Group

Experimental Nanophotonics Laboratory

Our research is at the nexus of nanotechnology and optics! We use light to excite single nanostructures (a few tens of nano-meters in dimensions!); and probe their interactions with light using optical spectroscopy. Currently, we are looking into the possibility of enhancement and control of "magnetic" light-matter interactions in high-index dielectric nanoparticles, metamaterials, rare earth ions, etc. In recent years, we have demonstrated:

  • Optical anapoles in high-index dielectric nanoparticles
  • Novel Nanophotonics effects in mesoscale dielectric nanoparticles

We are funded by the Division of Material Research, National Science Foundation to carry out some of these works!

Experimental Solid State Physics Lab

The experimental solid state physics lab is devoted to the synthesis and characterization of bulk, thin film, and nanocrystalline materials. Characterization includes structural, electrical, and thermal properties. Currently, focus is on energy conversion devices including photovoltaics and thermoelectrics, particularly those incorporating novel nanoscale technologies.

  • Facilities

    • UHV e-beam thin film deposition system
    • 1200 C tube furnace
    • hydraulic press
    • diamond saw
    • planetary ball mill
    • metal evaporation system
    • an assortment of advanced electronic and vacuum equipment.
  • Projects

    • Semiconducting thermoelectric superlattices
    • Magnetic superlattices
    • Development of a new nanotechnology that enables for the first time the ability to produce two- and three-structures on the nanoscale
    • Structural determination of boron carbide using recently developed techniques at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Lab.

Contact Information

Intense Laser Physics Theory Unit

The Intense Laser Physics Theory Unit (ILP) conducts research on the interaction of laser light with matter.

There are only a few centers around the world engaged in research similar to the work of Dr. Grobe and Dr. Su that focus on the interaction between extremely intense laser light with atoms. Their goal is to push the envelope of fundamental scientific knowledge and answer questions about the interaction of lasers with materials in scenarios yet unexplored.

Contact Information

Intense Laser Physics at Illinois State

Physics Education Research

Research in Physics Education seeks to find answers to complex questions:

  • What is the nature of student understanding (or misunderstanding) of a particular physics topic?
  • How to measure student understanding?
  • How does understanding evolve with time?
  • What role do general cognitive mechanisms play?
  • What is the most effective way to teach a particular topic?
  • Why are some teaching methods better than others?
  • How do you implement instructional methods on a large scale?

Current Work

We are currently working on two main projects. Any students interested in teaching or learning are welcome to join the group.

  • Project One

    One of our projects is assessing aspects of student control of variables reasoning with data presented in graphical and non-graphical ways.

  • Project Two

    We are also studying student learning within the 207 Energy and Environment course. We mostly collect data in two ways:

    1. Student interviews- ask a mostly pre-designed set of questions and listen to student ideas on a topic then record notes about their understanding.
    2. Designing computer and paper tasks for the students and then analyzing the responses with statistical techniques.

Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

Relativistic quantum mechanics, better known as quantum field theory, combines special relativity with quantum mechanics. Quantum field theory has become a mature field and is the framework within which the Standard Model of particle physics is built.

Our research deals with the exploration of problems that are not yet accounted for by the Standard Model. It also looks into the exploration of problems within the fundamental aspects of relativistic quantum mechanics itself. We use a combination of analytical and computational methods to explore these problems.

Contact Information

Neil Christensen

Space and Plasma Physics

This group conducts research in nonlinear dynamics, especially applied to space and laboratory plasmas, as well as in educational aspects of computational science and nonlinear systems.

The group specializes in involving undergraduate students in cutting edge research. They organize their work based on student and faculty presentations over the last several years.