The DRIFT Dark Matter Detector

Friday, November 4
3 pm
VW 104

Daniel Snowden-Ifft, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics, Occidental College

The Directional Recoil Identification From Tracks (DRIFT) is designed to detect the dark matter thought to make up 85% of the mass of the universe. Unlike most other dark matter detectors the directional capabilities of DRIFT allow it to conclusively determine the galactic origin of the dark matter events created within it. I will describe the detector, its capabilities and our recent efforts to detect dark matter in the Boulby salt mine in England. I will conclude with a brief description of a new international effort to create a large directional dark matter detector.

Seminars Oct 20 and 21

The history and role of computing will be the focus of the first of two addresses on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 20 and 21, through the Gentile Interdisciplinary Lecture series in the natural and applied sciences at Hope College by Dr. Andrew Christlieb of the Michigan State University faculty.

Learn more…

SPS Seminar – Summer research

SPS Seminar
Friday, October 14
3 pm
VW 104

Anna Lunderberg
Exploring the Effects of Copper on Composition and Charge Storage of Prussian Blue Analogue Pseudocapacitors

As energy usage has increased in recent years, there has been great demand for efficient, cost-effective, and earth-abundant materials to be used for energy storage. The ability to produce hexacyanoferrate (HCF) modified nickel film for use as a pseudocapacitor has already been demonstrated. This project focuses on the effects on the modification procedure and the resulting material of adding copper to the nickel metal film. A NiCu film was deposited onto a gold substrate with a controlled potential electrolysis experiment, then was modified and characterized with a cyclic voltammetry experiment. The composition was determined with a scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy before and after the modification process. Copper was selectively removed in some cases as a result of the modification. With increased levels of copper, the material can become structurally unsound and result in unintentional stripping of the material. Preliminary data suggests that as the pre-modification level of copper is increased, the resulting charge storage of the HCF film increases as well.

Alec Nelson
Scanning of the Intermodulation of Superconductor Resonators

At the resonant frequency, superconductor resonators produce intermodulation distortions, smaller signals near the resonant frequency. By inducing external microwave signals, it is possible to analyse the patterns of intermodulation distortions (IMD) in several different types of superconductor resonators. These measurements can be used to complement the main peak values like quality factor and frequency shift in order to understand nonlinearities present in the material of the superconductor. Once spatial distributions of IMD have been identified, they can be used to interpret IMD signals from unknown superconductors and identify various defects in the crystal structure. Using a probe outputting two combined tones into the resonator, it was possible to map the whole of a two-dimensional resonator, using the IMD as the z-direction. In order to best resolve the intermodulation distortions, two superconductors were imaged, a hairpin wide-line resonator and a thin, line resonator. A contour plot of the data was then generated, which displays the IMD of the given resonator.

Caleb Sword
Determining the Nuclear Structure of an Unstable 25O Isotope

One of the primary goals of nuclear physics research is to better understand the force that binds nucleons. This can be accomplished by studying the structure of neutron-rich isotopes. For this experiment, excited 25O nuclei were formed by a collision between a 101.3 MeV/u 27Ne ion beam and a liquid deuterium target at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. One resulting reaction involved two-proton removal from 27Ne particles, which created excited  25O nuclei that decayed into three neutrons and an 22O fragment. The four-vectors for the neutrons and 22O fragments were determined, allowing the calculation of the decay energy for this process on an event-by-event basis. However, another reaction would also take place, in which an alpha particle was stripped from the beam, creating 23O nuclei that decayed into an 22O fragment and a single neutron. In order to distinguish between 22O fragments and neutrons from both 25O and 23O isotopes, members of the MoNA collaboration are conducting GEANT4 simulations of each decay process in order to uncover their distinguishing characteristics. By successfully correlating simulated decay processes to experimental data, the relative cross sections of the two decay processes will be determined, and their decay energies will reveal more about their nuclear structures.

Work and Learn in Philadelphia!

Society of Physics Student discussion with Dr. Annie Dandavadi, Executive Director of The Philadelphia Center

Friday, September 30 at 3 pm in VanderWerf 104

Want to spend a semester using your scientific skills while earning academic credit and living in a vibrant, exciting city?  Come and learn more about opportunities for physical scientists, computer scientists and engineers from Dr. Annie Dandavadi, the Executive Director of The Philadelphia Center.  Previous internships have been in forensic science, environmental science, home energy auditing, biological sensor development and more.  In addition, there are many outstanding museum and informal education programs in the city looking for science interns to lead programs and develop new materials.  Have other ideas?  The Philadelphia Center staff will work with you to make connections with companies, government agencies and academic institutions in Philadelphia to find an internship that helps you apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom!

All students interested in STEM internship opportunities with the TPC are welcome to come!


Physics Seminar: Dr. Ben Shank

How to make Products that Keep Working (Introduction to Environmental Testing)

Ben Shank

Physics and Engineering Department Seminar

Friday, September 16 at 3 pm

Thermotron Test Chambers, Holland, MI and Hope Physics Department

Anyone who has taken an advanced lab class knows that just because a design works on paper does not mean it will work on the benchtop.  More experienced engineers and scientists know that working on the benchtop is not the same as working reliably in the lab or in the field.  This talk aims to answer some of the major questions students have about environmental/reliability testing.  Although delivered from a product engineering perspective, the concepts are applicable to anyone who makes anything, including laboratory experiments.