Category Archives: Research

Raymond Shaw Reviews Physical Hydrodynamics

Raymond Shaw reviewed Physical Hydrodynamics by Etienne Guyon, Jean-Pierre Hulin, Luc Petit, Catalin D. Mitescu.

I wish I could take every one of my physics students for a walk through the halls and rooms at the annual meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics. Maybe the best time would be right after their first advanced course in classical mechanics. I would exclaim, “Look, you’ve only just begun, there is so much more!” The meeting is a veritable carnival of physicists…

Read more at the American Journal of Physics.

Teresa Wilson on Fata Morgana

Teresa A. Wilson
Teresa A. Wilson

National Geographic quoted Michigan Tech graduate student Teresa Wilson (Physics) in an article about a special kind of atmospheric mirage known as a Fata Morgana.

From Tech Today.

China’s Floating City and The Science of Mirages

They’re common in polar regions, says Teresa Wilson, a graduate student in physics at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, in an email. “But [they] can happen anywhere.” People have even seen fata morgana in the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily.

Read more at National Geographic, by Jane J. Lee.

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.

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.