Friday, January 09, 2009

The Best Physics Department You Never Heard Of

This week, Louisiana Tech started back in session. The first several stories on the university webpage have been dominated about news about our Physics Program. And we are still putting together a press release about Tabbetha Dobbins getting a CAREER grant!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tech researchers and Italian National Nanotechnology Laboratory scientists recognized for collaboration - jroberts

Louisiana Tech and the Italian National Nanotechnology Laboratory’s joint project, “Nano-carriers for Cancer Therapy” has been selected among the 20 most important scientific projects for Italy-USA Collaboration by the Progetto Bilaterale Italia-USA. The collaboration was led by Dr. Yuri Lvov, a professor of micro and nanosystems at Tech’s Institute for Micromanufacturing, and Stefano Leporatti of the NNL.

The primary purpose of the collaboration was to develop new nano-carriers and to study their uptake in cells for development of new cancer therapies. The current project is based on NNL’s research on advanced optical and scanning probe facilities and Tech’s expertise in developing advanced nano-carriers for cancer drug delivery developed at the IfM benefited the work.

In addition to the medical applications, the project will be useful in the multi-disciplinary training of graduate students in the bio/nano technology environment.

Also, Leporatti and doctoral student Viviana Vergaro of the Italian National Nanotechnology Institute recently visited the IfM, when Leporatti delivered the lecture, “Engineering Micro/Nano Environment via Layer-by-Layer Composite Films for Breast Cancer Cell Controlled Growth.” On that visit, Leporatti also presented a seminar on using virus arrays for templated nano-lithography.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Louisiana Tech physicists highlight Top 10 science stories of 2008 - dguerin

Discover, one of the world's premier science and technology news magazines, released its list of the Top 100 Stories for 2008 and features two projects involving physicists from Louisiana Tech University in its Top 10.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, which involved over 5,000 scientists and engineers from 26 nations, ranked #2 on the list. Drs. Lee Sawyer, Dick Greenwood, and Markus Wobisch led a team from Louisiana Tech that is involved in the commissioning and operation of the ATLAS detector, which will allow scientists to tap into the physics potential of the LHC.

"[Tech] has three faculty members and two graduate students working on the ATLAS experiment, and our post doc at Fermilab has begun the transition to LHC-related work," says Sawyer, head of the physics department at Louisiana Tech.

The LHC accelerates two streams of protons toward each other at nearly 99.99% of the speed of light in an effort to prove, or possibly disprove, the "Big Bang Theory." It could also explain why some particles are massive while others are without mass, why there is matter and not antimatter, and whether or not other dimensions exist.

According to Sawyer, the same faculty members, along with several other undergraduate and graduate students, are also working on the D0 experiment at Fermilab. Their efforts played a significant part in the recent discovery of the Omega_b baryon.

Tech physics professor Dr. Dentcho Genov contributed to research related to technology needed to make an "invisibility cloak." Ranked #7 on the list, researchers are creating laboratory-engineered wonder materials that can conceal objects from almost anything that travels as a wave, including light, sound and, at the subatomic level, matter itself.

According to Discover, these engineered substances, known as "metamaterials," get their unusual properties from their size and shape, not their chemistry. Because of the way they are composed, they can shuffle waves away from an object.

"These metamaterials, undreamed of a few years ago, may prove to be one of the key technologies of the 21st century," explains Sawyer. "Already people are beginning to think of innovative ways of applying these materials. While a lot of discussion has been about 'cloaking devices,' there is a lot of promise in new optical devices and coatings."

In addition to the recognition by Discover, Time magazine also acknowledges the significance of these two projects, ranking the LHC story at #1 on its Top 10 of 2008 list and the "invisibility cloak" story at #7.

"This recognition by Discover and Time magazines confirms that the physics faculty at Louisiana Tech are contributing significantly to relevant and vital science discoveries," says Dr. Stan Napper, dean of Louisiana Tech's College of Engineering and Science. "Our students are directly benefiting from these outstanding researchers who are also outstanding educators."

"Person for person, we have the finest physics faculty in the country," adds Sawyer. "Our faculty offer students at both the undergraduate and graduate level a wide range of opportunities for research at the forefront of science."

Friday, January 09, 2009

Inspection technology by Louisiana Tech researchers to examine underground infrastructure - dguerin

An innovative underground scanning technology developed by Louisiana Tech researchers is the cornerstone of a technology development and commercialization project that has secured one of only nine Technology Innovation Program (TIP) grants awarded nationally by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

"$3.2 million has been secured for this project, of which nearly $900,000 will flow to Louisiana Tech over the next three years," says Dr. Erez Allouche, associate professor of civil engineering and associate director of Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center.

Allouche, along with Drs. Arun Jaganathan, Neven Simicevic and Klaus Grimm, is partnering with Elxsi Corporation of Orlando to develop a deep-penetrating scanning system, based on a new technology called ultrawideband (UWB) pulsed radar. This technology will allow for the inspection of buried pipelines, tunnels, and culverts to detect fractures, quantify corrosion, and determine the presence of voids in the surrounding soil.

The project, called FutureScan, incorporates leading-edge simulation, electronics, robotics, signal processing, and three-dimensional (3-D) rendering technologies in a package that can be mounted on existing pipe-inspection robots.

A patent on this new technology is currently pending. This is the first attempt to commercialize UWB for the inspection of municipal pipes around the world.

Using highly directional electromagnetic pulses and special signal-processing algorithms derived from mine and bomb detection technology, the technique can "see" through solid objects and measure both surface and internal structural integrity.

"Our project will greatly increase the ability of municipalities and DOTs to detect developing sink holes around buried pipes before they propagate to the surface and cause collapse of the roadway," explains Allouche.

The consequences of pipeline failure range from disease-causing water pollution to sometimes fatal highway accidents. The United States has over one million miles of buried pipes carrying water to cities, towns, and homes.

"In addition to the federal funding [Louisiana Tech] receives, this award will also mean the establishment of new technical positions, the creation of a new start-up company in Tech's incubator, and the potential for a leading-edge technology, developed at Louisiana Tech, getting into markets around the world," adds Allouche.

TIP was created to support innovative, high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need where there is a clear interest because of the magnitude of the problems and their importance to society.

Allouche appreciates the prestige and exclusivity that this program carries.

"The high dollar value attracts proposals from the best academic institutions in the nation. This award is another example of the growing ability of Louisiana Tech to develop innovative technologies and bring them to a market-ready status."

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