Category Archives: Research

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.

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.

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.

Yap Quoted on Water-Purification Methods


Nanotech Filter
Nanotech Filter

Professor Yoke Khin Yap (Physics) was interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch to comment about a recent work reported by Ohio State University researchers. The recent work on water/oil separation filters was first pioneered by Yap in collaboration with Jaroslaw Drelich in 2011. The Columbus Dispatch is a daily newspaper based in Columbus, Ohio.

From Tech Today.

Ohio State researchers develop mesh that captures oil

Other scientists have explored how small particles could help deal with oil spills.

For example, a team of MIT engineers in 2012 devised a way to pull clean water and reusable oil from spills using nanoparticles. And two Michigan Tech University professors published research in 2011 about a fine mesh they coated with nanotubes to attract oil and repel water. Nanotubes are slightly larger than nanoparticles.

Yoke Khin Yap, a physics professor at Michigan Tech who co-wrote that study, said Bhushan and Brown’s findings could improve water-purification methods.

To work on large oil spills, though, the OSU mesh would have to be capable of performing on a much larger scale, Yap said. “We’re not talking about filtering 100 milliliters of liquid — we’re talking about a big volume for an oil spill in the oceans. So it really depends on the speed of this kind of separation process.”

Read more at The Columbus Dispatch, by Laura Arenschield.

REF for Cantrell

The Vice President for Research Office announces the Research Execellence Fund Awards. Thanks to the volunteer review committees, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

Will Cantrell, EPSSI/Physics, received an Infrastructure Enhancement Grant for “Acquisition of a Cloud Condensation Nucleus Counter.”

Read more at Tech Today, by Natasha Chopp.

Swarup China accepted to participate in ACCESS XIII

Dr. Swarup China former graduate student in the Atmospheric Sciences program at MTU, has been accepted to participate in ACCESS XIII, to be convened at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) (July 31 – August 2, 2015), and to attend the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) in Atmospheric Chemistry. Participation to ACCESS is highly competitive and it is an honor to be accepted.

Information about the conference can be found here.

Yap Reviews for DOE

discovery-scienceProfessor Yoke Khin Yap served the Department of Energy (DOE) as an onsite reviewer for the triennial review of the research program supported by the Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering (DMSE), Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Tuesday thru Thursday, April 28-30, 2015.

All research projects supported by BES undergo regular peer review and merit evaluation. For the DOE national laboratory programs, onsite reviews with a panel of external reviewers are required every three years.

The reviews were attended by the division director and program managers from the DOE, BES, DMSE, as well as reviewers from national laboratories and universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, and Yale.

The review schedule included oral presentations, poster presentations, and a facility tour.