Undergraduate Research

The Indiana State University Physics Department emphasizes research experience for undergraduates. Each student must complete a one or two semester project for course credit as part of the degree requirements, and many students are employed as paid research assistants throughout the academic year and summer. These projects provide essential experience in the process of doing science, using the equipment and software you will encounter in industry or research laboratories.

The faculty at ISU are involved in a wide array of research areas, and they will often tailor a specific project to meet your particular interests. There are usually opportunities for any level student to get involved. Results from this collaborative research are often presented at national conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Current Projects

Below is a summary of some current research projects being conducted by students and faculty in the ISU physics department. Students interested in joining a project should contact the principle investigators.

Time Resolved Resonant Raman Scattering
Joe West, Frank Tsen (Arizona State)

Experimental and theoretical analysis of an electronic to vibrational energy transfer process in CN- molecular defects in CsCl crystals. By using a pico-second pulsed laser, one can excite the electronic state of electrons in the host crystal, which then transfer energy to the defect molecules. By using a slightly delayed copy of that laser pulse to obtain a vibrational Raman spectra of the molecules, one can determine the time required for the energy to get to the CN-. Wavelength dependent experiments are also planned in order to examine the energy transfer mechanism more closely.
Hartree-Fock dynamical electron-correlation effects in C60 after laser excitation.
G. P. Zhang

In the static Hartree-Fock limit, the on-site electron-electron interaction has no effect on the electronic properties of e. But upon the laser excitation, the dynamical correlation effect appears. The time-dependent Hartree-Fock simulation through the Hubbard model shows that such an effect originates from the charge fluctuation, and an increase in the on-site electron-electron interaction suppresses the charge fluctuation and reduces the absorbed energy and the bond structure distortion. For information about Dr. Zhang's research, please visit http://physics.indstate.edu/~gpzhang

[Dr. Zhang's website]

Ring and Point Mass Orbital Dynamics
Joe West and Ryan Tobin

We are exploring the dynamics of a point mass interacting with a very thin ring, with a special interest in finding patterns among closed orbits. We have already found a significant number of those orbits in the case that the ring is fixed [J. West and Ryan Tobin (class of 05) "A thin ring 'zoo' of closed orbits," submitted to the American Journal of Physics, August 2003.] Future work will allow the ring to move, and to rotate, while the point mass is fixed. Following that, both objects will be allowed to move and/or rotate. Results of interest may include shepherding behavior, chaos and resonance, and the stability of ring-shaped space stations.

[Dr. West's website]

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