Category Archives: News

Michigan Tech Team Helps Clarify the Impacts of Black Carbon in Nature Communications Study

Black CarbonDust specks are touted for their insignificance. But black carbon particles have global impact. Michigan Technological University researchers collaborated with a team from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and several other universities to shed light on the complex way black carbon and solar radiation interact to increase warming in the atmosphere. The research came out this week in Nature Communications.

Michigan Tech’s team focused on the microscopy work, which is also important for other research done in the lab and in the field, from thecloud chamber on campus to atmospheric monitoring on Pico Mountain in the Azores. Understanding the impacts of atmospheric particles will help refine climate change models, weather predictions and provide better information for making policies on black carbon and other short-lived pollutants.

Black Carbon

Black carbon is basically soot. The particles—similar in size to corn starch dust—make their way into the air from cooking fires, automobiles, industrial plants, wildfires and other kinds of burning. And rarely is black carbon just black carbon; the soot is often mixed with other atmospheric particles. Claudio Mazzoleni, an associate professor of physics at Michigan Tech, and his collaborators have to separate out the black carbon from everything else by heating up the particles.

Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Allison Mills.

New HOLODEC Study in Science on Using Holography to Better Understand Clouds

HOLODEC StudyOctober 1, 2015—
Watching the clouds go by, swirls of white puff up and melt away. The changes mirror mixing within the clouds as drier air mingles with water-saturated air. New research led by Michigan Technological University with support from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz University, analyzes this mixing with holographic imaging and an airborne laboratory.

This new way of seeing clouds—and the unusual mixing behavior observed in them—is the focus of the team’s study, published in Science this week. Sharp boundaries form as dry air completely evaporates some water drops and leaves others unscathed. The findings will influence models that help predict weather and climate change.

Raymond Shaw, a professor of physics at Michigan Tech, looks at the smallest part of clouds: droplets. To understand groups of droplets, Shaw and the NCAR team flew airplanes through fluffy, cottonball cumulus clouds in Wyoming and Colorado. Aboard the plane, the team took detailed 3-D images with an instrument called the Holographic Detector for Clouds (HOLODEC—yes, like Star Trek’s “holodeck”). These particular clouds were only made up of liquid water, and the size of those drops is a key part of cloud formation and mixing.

Read more and watch the video at Michigan Tech News, by Allison Mills.

What’s At The Edge Of A Cloud?

Scientists have just made a breakthrough in understanding how clouds interact with the surrounding air by studying some of the most boring clouds you can imagine in unprecedented detail.

“If you ask a child to draw a cloud they would draw a white puffy cloud floating in the air all by itself — and that’s the kind of cloud we were looking at,” says Raymond Shaw, an atmospheric scientist at Michigan Technological University.

Read more and listen to the “All Things Considered” podcast at NPR News, Minnesota Public Radio, by Nell Greenfieldboyce.

Lunar Eclipse Viewing at Michigan Tech

Moonbeam: Event draws crowd to Tech’s telescope

HOUGHTON – At Michigan Technological University, people lined up Sunday night to view an astronomical event that, for most of them, was occurring for the first time in their lives.

“A lot of people think that when the moon is eclipsed, it disappears during totality, but it doesn’t,” said Amanda Shaw, a masters student at Tech and teacher of Tech’s astronomy class, who organized the viewing.

“This is a rather unique event, but otherwise people don’t necessarily get a chance to see things like a full moon with any detail,” said Tech physics student Scott Rutterbush. “Instead, it gives them a little bit of perspective. It gives them a chance to say, ‘in order to see up close on the moon, we have to go this big.’”

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese (subscription required).

Jacek Borysow Interviewed on Department Improvements

Jacek Borysow Department Improvements
Jacek Borysow

Local students will soon see big improvements in the physics department

Elizabeth and Richard Henes see great potential in Michigan Tech’s physics department. Five years ago, a Tech professor impressed them by using a mouse trap to demonstrate quantum mechanics.

“There are only certain states, like energy [or] velocity which are allowed for the molecule. A mouse trap has only 2 states. One when the spring is loose and one when it is, how do you call it, set. Mr. Henes said thank you for the lecture and handed us a check for seven hundred thousand dollars,” said Jacek Borysow, a Physics Professor at the University.

Read more and watch the video at ABC 10 UP, by Amanda L’Esperence.

Nemiroff Interviewed on APOD by MUSEUM Magazine

Museum magazine published a special feature on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day and interviewed Professor Robert Nemiroff (Physics), who co-developed and co-writes and edits the popular astronomy feature.

From Tech Today.

A special report on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day archive—an image-driven attempt to catalogue (some) of the universe’s ephemera.

Existence is a loaded thing. Those of us who do not engage with the physical environment or, spiritually speaking, ritualistic practice, might wonder only briefly and in passing about that which we do not understand—the deep sea, impending apocalypse, where we come from—before shaking our heads and continuing onward.

MONICA USZEROWICZ As someone exploring the beginnings of the universe, what prompted your interest in the cosmos?

ROBERT NEMIROFF Like many scientists, in particular astronomers, I wanted to be a scientist from a very early age. I remember in second grade that I could say the names of the planets—then including Pluto—faster than anyone in the class. And that included—and I hope you are sitting down for this—the teacher. So obviously, I was pre-qualified to become an astronomer.

Read more at MUSEUM, by Monica Uszerowicz.

Meet the Physics Faculty and Staff

Physics Faculty and Staff Fall 2015
Physics Faculty and Staff Fall 2015

From left to right: Andrea Lappi, John Jaszczak, Ranjit Pati, Don Beck, Bob Weidman, Wil Slough, Ramy El-Ganainy, Brian Fick, Claudio Mazzoleni, Bryan Suits, Miguel Levy, Alex Kostinski, Debbie Linn, Kimberly Oldt, Ravi Pandey, Will Cantrell, Yoke Khin Yap, Ray Shaw, Petra Huentemeyer, Bob Nemiroff, Jacek Borysow, and Max Seel.

Find all of the faculty and staff of the Department of Physics.

Professor Yoke Khin Yap Awarded Title of Global Alumni Fellow


Global Alumni Fellow
Yoke Khin Yap is a Global Alumni Fellow

Yoke Khin Yap (Physics) was awarded by Osaka University in Japan with the title of Global Alumni Fellow. The newly established award is granted to alumni who are academically active overseas. Yap is among the first few honorees joining alumni from Purdue, Pennsylvania, Columbia, The National Institute of Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Cambridge and others.

Yap has been an active alumni of Osaka University. He is one of the founding members and board of directors of the Osaka University North American Alumni Association (OU-NAAA) created in January 2006. OU-NAAA helps alumni in North America connect with the university, students and faculty through social and academic networking activities.

From Tech Today.

“Graphene-Nanotube Switches” a Top 3 Percent Paper

Almetric Pageviews

Yoke Khin Yap and collaborators’ article, “Switching Behaviors of Graphene-Boron Nitride Nanotube Heterojunctions” was published on Nature Scientific Reports.

The work of Yap and collaborators has also been highlighted in Nanowerk, Scicasts, Electronics Weekly, EE Times, IEEE Spectrum, KurzweilAl, Sciencedaily,, EurekAlert and numerous others.

The Almetric system (social attention of a scholarly article) ranks Yap’s paper in the 97th percentile of all tracked articles of a similar age in all journals.

From Tech Today.

Jaszczak Invited to Write a Viewpoint


APS/Joan Tycko

John A. Jaszczak (Physics) was invited to write a Viewpoint about a new paper published in Physical Review Letters about important experimental work on the growth of quasicrystals. His article, “Viewpoint: Watching Quasicrystals Grow,” discusses exciting new work that images–at the atomic scale–the growth of an alloy that exhibits crytsallographically forbidden symmetry, but whose structure can be modeled using the famous, non-periodic Penrose tilings. Viewpoints are editor-invited commentaries written by experts in their field about research articles published in American Physical Society journals, and appear in the online-only news site Physics.

From Tech Today, by John Jaszczak.