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    Hello! Welcome to Breakthroughs, a site devoted to sharing with you the latest, greatest advancements from the College of Science at Oregon State University. From breakthroughs in research to transformational philanthropy to interesting tidbits from the daily life of the College, we'll post frequently to keep you up-to-date. Please visit often and absolutely let us know what you might like to learn more about. Enjoy, and of course, GO BEAVS!
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Archive for the ‘Physics’ Category

Thinking Like a Physicist « Terra Magazine

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on March 18, 2011

Thinking Like a Physicist « Terra Magazine.


Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Breakthrough Made in Metamaterial Optics

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on December 5, 2008

These “metamaterials,” which gain their properties from their structure rather than directly from their composition, have been seen as a key to a possible “super lens” that would have an extraordinary level of resolution and be able to “see” things the size of a nanometer – a human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide.

They could also be important in machine visions systems, electronics manufacturing, computers limited only by the speed of light, and a range of new communications concepts. A “cloaking device” to hide objects, although not exactly of the type made famous by Star Trek, is also a possibility.

Read more about this significant breakthrough here.

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Flat Screen TV’s for EVERYONE!

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on July 3, 2008

This article points up OSU as a pioneer in transparent electronics and touts a partnership among the U.S. government, private industry and university research to enable critical innovations for future display technology.

For the non-pioneers among us here’s what wiki has to say about thin films.

Flat screen TV’s are clearly the least of it.

Beavers, always building stuff.

Posted in Chemistry, Physics | Leave a Comment »

Transparent integrated circuit finds industrial use

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on June 16, 2008

transparenttransistorIn early 2006, OSU researchers announced that they had created a completely transparent integrated circuit from inorganic compounds.

Now, reports the Corvallis Gazette Times, that technology has found its first industrial use in solar panels:

Silicon-based solar cells — the heavy black panels currently in use — require mechanical devices to pivot them and track the sun across the sky. Transparent transistors can do that optically, making the sandwich of lenses, cells and electronics much lighter.

And since most of the panel is clear, architectural elements such as color and texture can show through them, opening up the technology to become an integral part of a building’s design.

(In the photo: OSU graduate student Rick Presley was instrumental in creating the transparent integrated circuit.)

Posted in Chemistry, Physics | Leave a Comment »

Waves on a Plane

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on April 18, 2008

Sloshing motion of electrons cause Waves on a Plane. Just a little Physics humor for you today.

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Speed of Light Too Slow!

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on April 8, 2008

New Material Bends Light “Wrong Way,” Opens Optical Possibilities

Media Contact: David Stauth, 541-737-0787cover_image2_72

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The development of a new type of composite material that can bend light the “wrong way” is moving researchers another step closer toward creation of functional devices that could have a wide range of important optical and electronic applications.

Scientists at Oregon State University, Princeton University and Alcatel-Lucent have created the first “negative index” material that could be producible in bulk form and still have the capability to bend infrared light the opposite direction of any natural material.

“We were able to use existing technology that’s available for producing semiconductors to create this material, which is a multi-layered structure composed from reflective and transparent layers,” said Viktor Podolskiy, an OSU assistant professor of physics.

The advance was recently reported in a professional journal, Nature Materials.
Negative refraction of light, considered just a scientific theory until a few years ago, is the ability of a material to bend light in the opposite direction of any material found so far in the natural world. It’s a concept of considerable interest and importance in the optics research community, especially since the creation in recent years of some materials that could actually do this.

The new material, however, is the first negative refraction material that could be created in a comparatively thick form and used for broader practical applications at infrared frequencies.

The material might be of use to shrink the size of infrared optical systems. With further development it might lead the way to a working super lens, which could have an extraordinary level of resolution and be able to “see” things the size of a nanometer – keeping in mind that a human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide. It could also be used to construct “photonic funnels” – the waveguides that would connect telecom fibers to nanometer-sized molecules or quantum dots.

Such optical components could be of importance in machine vision systems, electronics manufacturing, data storage, or medical systems. The new material might also have applications in optical computing, which could be the new frontier of computers that are limited only by the speed of light, not the movement of electrons.

In theory, this type of technology might even be able to make things appear invisible – although for the time being this would be mostly just a scientific curiosity, not the Romulan “cloaking device” of Star Trek fame.

OSU researchers will continue work on the materials and the full range of possible applications they may allow, Podolskiy said.

Here’s the article in Nature Materials.
(photo by Keith Drake)

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Physics Prof Praised!

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on March 27, 2008


Congratulations to Prof. Corinne Manogue, who was selected as the 2008 winner of the American Association of Physics Teachers’ Excellence in undergraduate Physics Teaching Award. This award recognizes outstanding achievements by an AAPT member in undergraduate physics teaching, in particular her significant work in the highly-regarded Paradigms Program.

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Tell the truth: You wonder what ONAMI is and why you should care

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on February 6, 2008

A recent article in the Corvallis Gazette-Times about Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) explains why the support of higher education is so key to the economic health of Oregon in the global market:

Oregon needs to start ramping up its support of higher education, or else the state will be unable to compete in the global marketplace. That’s both the fear and the mission of Skip Rung, executive director of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute in Corvallis. “This is the one thing that Oregon still doesn’t get enough,” Rung said during an interview Tuesday. “Higher education is absolutely critical to any region’s economic future.”

ONAMI’s mission is to support new research and to provide seed money to help small tech companies grow. Without its academic partners, the project couldn’t succeed. Likewise, Rung said, Oregon won’t be able to thrive without the research and development at public universities, which provide the talent and the ideas that produce new technology.

Read the entire article here: Tech exec: Higher Ed Lagging, by Theresa Hogue, Gazette-Times reporter.

Posted in Chemistry, ONAMI, Philanthropy, Physics | Leave a Comment »

Quantum Leaps in Physics

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on January 17, 2008

WenigerJordan_400 The Physics Department is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year. At right, a photo, taken sometime in 1928, of Professor Jordan (left), who built the first radio transmitter, KFDJ, 5 watts. Dr. Weniger (right) founded the department in 1908.

Also, chair and professor emeritus, Ken Krane, has been selected by the Honors College as 2008’s Eminent Professor.

In addition, the College of Science is pleased to announce the inception of the Ben and Elaine Whiteley Endowed Fund in Materials Research, recently established by long-time friends, donors, and volunteers, Ben and Elaine Whiteley. Elaine’s father was Dr. Edwin Yunker. Professor Yunker was a member of the OSU physics faculty from 1925 to 1968 and was department chair from 1949 to 1966. The Yunker lecture was established in his honor. Ben and Elaine live in Portland, and are delighted to have made this contribution in support of the materials science program, which has also been counted toward the challenge made by the Valley Foundation for the College of Science to raise $15 million in program support.


Dr. Janet Tate is one of the lead faculty members in the Materials Science group.

Finally, the Paradigms in Physics classroom remodel for first- and second-year students is on the way to becoming a reality.

That’s all for this nanosecond!

Posted in Philanthropy, Physics | Leave a Comment »

Breaking the Tyranny of the Textbook

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on January 14, 2008

weniger Colorado
Here is the rabbit-warren to be renovated in Weniger Hall…and the cutting-edge classroom that will be created to carry out the “Paradigms In Physics” program for first-and second-year students in Physics at OSU.

Here’s a bit of background from Corinne Minogue and Dedra Demaree, the visionaries in charge:

The experience of being an upper-level undergraduate student in Physics at OSU has been transformed through a re-envisioning of the learning process. Our program, “Paradigms in Physics”, is funded by the National Science Foundation and is the first curriculum of its type in the country.

Originally it was conceived as a content rearrangement to teach physics as physicists think about it, in terms of concepts that broadly underlie many subfields: energy, symmetry, waves, and oscillations. The faculty have gone on, however, to recreate the entire learning environment by taking the active-engagement classroom practice to the cutting edge. The “Paradigms” vision has proven so successful, it is now serving as a model for other learning environments within OSU and beyond. This success may account for the increase in the number of physics majors and graduates at OSU over the past several years, at a time when the number of physics majors throughout the U.S. was showing a prolonged decline.To further invigorate the education of all students, the Department now seeks to retool the introductory sequence in line with the lessons learned from the Paradigms Project. The department will be shifting to presenting only the main ideas in the current large-lecture setting while having students spend more time in a smaller active-engagement classroom. Here they will be able to explore ideas seamlessly in small groups under the direction of a faculty member and experienced teaching assistants.

For example, they can start directly from physical observations and experimentation with equipment, move to problem solving for that situation, and then explore more difficult extensions through computer simulations. Students can work at a more flexible pace, and use interactions with each other and the instructors as ways to test and explore their own understanding. In dedicated, modernized classrooms with high-tech teaching aids, students will sit at modular tables with three students to a group. Students can face forward when information needs to be delivered to the class as a whole, but a quick move of chairs will transform the class into working groups. Each group will have a tablet PC for problem-solving, access to small equipment modules for testing ideas, and a white-board and a smart-board for brainstorming. Information will be uploaded to the instructor’s computer for real-time feedback on problem-solving. The group members will discuss amongst themselves, create models, physically test predictions based on their models, and present solutions to the entire class.

This active learning style has been proven to change thought patterns, excite strong students, and provide support for weaker students.


We’re working on funding the $500,000 budget for this project via private support–we’re about $200k toward that goal so far.

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »