Welcome to the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) news and announcements blog. Stay up-to-date with all the happenings, discoveries, events and funding opportunities associated with KNE. Enter your email in the "Follow by email" box below an to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kansas State EPSCoR physicist uses X-ray lasers to create molecular black hole

Artistic rendering of "molecular black hole"
courtesy of DESY/Science Communication Lab.
    Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track II physicist, Artem Rudenko, and his colleague, Daniel Rolles, both assistant professors of physics at Kansas State University (KSU), have successfully used short pulses of ultra-intense high-energy X-rays to create detailed images illustrating X-Ray interactions with and break ups of molecules.  Rudenko is a research team member on the current Track 2 NSF EPSCoR grant titled, Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures
    This discovery involved shooting iodomethane, CH3I, and iodobenzene, C6H5I molecules with an X-ray laser.  The X-ray laser used in the experiments is located at Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University and has an intensity of 100 quadrillion kilowatts per square centimeter.  This X-ray laser is understood to be the most powerful laser in the world.  According to Rudenko, "As this powerful X-ray light hits a molecule, the heaviest atom, the iodine, absorbs a few hundred times more X-rays than all the other atoms. Then, most of its electrons are stripped away, creating a large positive charge on the iodine." This positive charge pulls electrons from other atoms in the molecule creating a short-lived black hole. This stripping away process only takes a few femtoseconds (A femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second) and repeats the process until the molecule explodes. Unlike a real black hole in space, the molecular black hole allows the electrons to eventually escape.
   This research may help scientists better understand the damages from X-ray radiation; provide a tool to image biological particles, such as proteins and viruses, with high resolution; shed light on the charge and energy flow in highly energized molecules involved with solar energy conversion; and impact the field of radiation-driven chemistry.

For more information on this discovery go to K-State News  and the June 1 2017 Issue of Nature.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track II Award No. IIA-1430493 and was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Basic Energy Sciences Program 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kansas EPSCoR 2017 "Modeling the Unseen in the Physical Sciences" teachers share AMO lessons at KATS Camp

     The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) held its annual KATS Camp in Junction City, Kansas (KS) on April 21 - 23, 2017.  As a follow up activity to the 2016 KS EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop titled: Modeling the Unseen in the Physical SciencesKS NSF EPSCoR sponsored participants so they could attend the 2017 KATS Camp and network with other science teachers from around the state.
     During the 2016 summer KS EPSCoR workshop the invited middle and high school physics, chemistry and physical science teachers interacted with the KS NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures grant researchers: Chris Elles (KU), Ewe Thumm (KSU), AT Le (KSU) and Bret Flanders (KSU). Under this project team's guidance, the teachers made curricular connections to the grant's current research and created Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (AMO) lessons to teach to their students. These lessons specifically addressed the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices that related to AMO Physics. As part of the workshop follow-up, teachers attending the KATS Camp were offered the opportunity to present on their workshop experiences, the AMO lesson plans they created, and their students reactions after teaching their lessons. Of the participants who attended the camp, five decided to present during the Kansas NSF EPSCoR AMO lesson sharing session titled Linking Contemporary Research to NGSS. This session was chaired by Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education, and Professor of Education and Professor of Physics at Fort Hayes State University.  Adams has been a part of the KS NSF EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop planning team since its inception in 2015.
Tim Elsen, Molly Bovos, Kara Luce and Paul Adams
   During the KS NSF EPSCoR presentation, each teacher gave a short summary of what they learned at the workshop and then stationed themselves around the room to demonstrate their lessons. Audience members were encouraged to visit each station to learn how the workshop participants were teaching AMO topics in there classrooms. Wilbur Middle School science teacher and President Elect of KATS, Tim Elsen, discussed his lesson that introduced "the Electromagnetic Spectrum to middle school students by allowing them to 'discover' the infrared portion of the spectrum. Students recreate Herschel's infrared experiment in the classroom." Fellow workshop participant and physics teacher at Basehor-Linwood High School, Molly Bovos, presented a lesson on Modeling Laser Strength.  She explained "I worked on this lesson with my students and we found that there are many factors that contribute to the "strength" of the laser such as different types of light and radiation. We learned that strength could be described by frequency, energy, or power." Kansas physics teacher, Kara Luce from Holcomb High School, was attended the 2016 NE EPSCoR  Physics Teacher Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She discussed the history and current knowledge of electromagnetism as well as the usefulness of using demonstrations to illustrate its underlying physics concepts.
Pam Kraus
Pam Kraus, physics teacher at St. John's Military School said "I presented the lesson I designed at the EPSCoR workshop last summer. It was about using lasers to introduce the concept of electromagnetic radiation in preparation for teaching high school chemistry students about ER given off when excited electrons drop to lower energy levels."  She used different colored hand held lasers and gummy bears to demonstrate her topic. Adrianne Wedel, physics teacher at Newton High School, demonstrated her lesson on Modeling the Human Eye by showcasing cell phone and prism holograms.
Adrianne Wedel

   Ottawa High School's physics teacher and first time KATS participant, James Deane was an audience participant during the  KS EPSCoR presentations.  He commented on the session saying "I thought it was very informative. My fellow workshop attendees have put together some very polished activities." And he added, "If I had it to do over again, I would probably polish my workshop activity and present."
    As for the KATS Camp overall experience, Bovos, a first time participant, commented, "I gained so much by going to this conference and I think it is important for us to get together to revisit what we learned at the EPSCoR summer workshop."  And, Elsen emphasized, "I certainly hope that the EPSCoR summer workshop continues to promote attendance at KATS Kamp and offering the chance to present. This is a great way to promote networking and creative collaboration!"

Education and outreach funding for sponsoring Kansas physics teacher workshop participants' attendance to the  2017 KATS Camp was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Kansas NSF EPSCoR Director's discovery featured in the Department of Energy's Office of Science Highlights

Dr. Kristin Bowman-James
   The Department of Energy has featured Dr. Kristin Bowman-James' scientific research on their May 2, 2007 highlights page. Dr. Bowman-James is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kansas and the Director of Kansas NSF EPSCoR.  She and her colleagues: Dr. Jonathan L. Sessler, Chemistry Department, University of Texas, Austin; Dr. Bruce A. Moyer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Dr. Amar H. Flood, Chemistry Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, have designed molecules, called chelators, that positively impact energy production by selectively removing unwanted ions from complex solutions.These strategically designed chelators, generated in this research will selectively separate ions on demand allowing more efficient processing and safe disposal of radioactive waste.  Specifics related to the highlight can be found on the DOE Office of Science Basic Energy Sciences highlight page titled Casting a Wide Net and on the In Depth tab of Newswise. 
Image courtesy of Bruce Moyer and Andy Sproles, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
The image above illustrates the idea that specific ions can be captured using designed molecular chelators ranging from foldamers for chloride, tetraurea chelates for sulfate, strapped calizpyrroles for lithium nitrate, and calixcrowns for cesium.

Funding for these projects was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences: Jonathan Sessler (Grant No. DE-FG02-01ER15186), Bruce Moyer (Grant No. ERKCC08), Kristin Bowman-James (Grant No. DE-SC0010555), Amar Flood (Grant No. DE-FG02-09ER16068). Bruce Moyer acknowledges additional support for applied research from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kansas High School Women attend the 2017 Women In Science Conference at the University of Nebraska

    Four Kansas high school teachers and eight of their students traveled to Nebraska to participate in the 19th annual Women in Science Conference at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  The Kansas representatives were teachers, sophomores and juniors from Topeka High School in Topeka Kansas and from Free State and Lawrence High School in Lawrence Kansas. This opportunity was sponsored by the current NSF Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR Track 2 grant titled “Collaborative Research: Imaging and controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures.” As part of the collaboration's education and outreach initiatives, the Nebraska Women in Science Conference invited Kansas teachers and students to participate.  The conference brings high school girls and their teachers to the University of Nebraska (UNL) campus for a two day science career exploration and networking opportunity. The format of the conference encourages students to “interact with career and academic professional women in science, meet current female science students and other high school girls who are interested in science, and discover countless professions as diverse as biologists, geologists, engineers, food scientists, computer scientists, and those in the medical fields.”
Kansas students touring St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
     The 2017 Women in Science Conference began with a hospital tour at the at the Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center on Friday, March 31, 2017, followed by a banquet featuring Dr. Terri Norton of the Nebraska Engineering Department. Saturday, April 1, 2017, was filled with hands-on activities and lab explorations at the Nebraska Union and the Beadle Center.
     The Kansas students' occupational interests ranged from careers in medicine, forensics, biochemistry and zoology.  Karla Gaines, science teacher from Topeka High School, said her students “loved the hospital tour, the session we attended on breaking bones, and the lab session in the afternoon.” She added “I thought the message of the Key note speaker was fantastic.”  Marci Leuschen, science teacher at Free State High School, said her students’ favorite parts of the conference were “the hands on photosynthesis and respiration lab,” and “The round robin forum where they spoke to scientists.” She also commented “the girls all came away from the conference energized about scientific research.  The car ride home they were talking about the women they met over the weekend and the stories they enjoyed. Shoot – the speakers had me convinced to quit my job and enroll at UNL to pursue a career in research science!” Both teachers indicated that the 2017 Women in Science Conference experience “really solidified their students’ interest in pursuing a career in science.”

Funding for this Collaborative Research Experience was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The Grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce and prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Kansas State University hosts 2017 Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Moledules and Nanostructures Symposium

  Over 100 physics and chemistry students and faculty attended the March 31, 2017 Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR Track 2 Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Moledules and Nanostructures Symposium at Kansas State University.
Top: Dr. Beth Montelone & Dr. Anthony Starace
Bottom: Dr. Paul Corkum

      The program opened with a welcome from Dr. Beth Montelone, Senior Associate Vice President for Research at Kansas State University (KSU), and was followed by Dr. Anthony Starace, co-principle investigator and the George Holmes Distinguished Professor of Physics, AMOP Physics & Astronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), introducing the Plenary Speaker, from the Dr. Paul Corkum from the University of Ottawa and the National Research Council(NRC) of Canada.  Dr. Corkum engaged the audience and sparked interesting discussions with his talk titled Linking high harmonics from solids and gases.
From left to right: Dr. Chris Elles, Dr. Steve Cundiff,
Dr. Louis DeMarco, Dr. Mette Gaarde
   The morning session featured Kansas EPSCoR researcher, Dr. Chris Elles from the University of Kansas (KU), discussing Nonlinear photochromic switching in the plasmonic field of a nanoparticle array; as well as talks from visiting speakers: Dr. Steve Cundiff , University of Michigan, who discussed Coherent control of the exciton/biexciton system in a quantum dot ensemble; Dr. Lou DiMauro, from Ohio State University, who discussed Intense mid-infrared laser-cluster interactions; and Dr. Mette Gaarde, from Louisiana State University, who discussed High harmonic generation in solids: dynamics of multilevel adiabatic states spanning the band structure.
From left to right: Dr. Ken Knappenberger, Dr. Carlos Trallero-Herrero
Dr. George Gibson, Dr. Matthias Fuchs
   The Afternoon session opened with a presentation titled Mode-specific plasmonics examined using single-nanoparticle ultrafast imaging given by Dr. Ken Knappenberger of Florida State University and was followed by Kansas EPSCoR and KSU researcher Dr. Carlos Trallero-Herrero who discussed Control and measurement of attosecond pulses with two-color fields (1). The afternoon session concluded with talks from visiting professor Dr. George Gibson from the University of Connecticut who discussed Deep inner-orbital ionization of diatomic molecules by strong laser fields and Nebraska EPSCoR and UNL researcher Dr. Matthias Fuchs who discussed State-of-the-art and next-generation sources for ultrafast hyperspectral imaging.
   Dr. Itzik Ben-Itzhak, co-principle investigator and distinguished physics professor at Kansas State University made closing remarks and invited the audience to attend the poster session that featured over 35 posters from students and grant participants.

Funding for this Collaborative Research Experience was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The Grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce and prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

2017 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop at Kansas State APPLY NOW

  Kansas NSF EPSCoR will select up to 30 physics and physical science teachers from Kansas and Nebraska to participate in a 2 day professional development opportunity at Kansas State University on June 15 -16, 2017. Participants will earn a stipend of $300 for writing lessons and/or enrichment activities that incorporate models, the Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics research, and the Next Generation Science Standards' (NGSS):  Science and Engineering Practices into their current lessons and activities. Travel, lodging and meals will be covered as well.
  Participants will work with the Kansas EPSCoR AMO Physics Scientists; Ms. Lizette Burks, Kansas Department of Education Science Program Consultant; and Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education at Fort Hays State University to:
  1. Discuss how modeling is used in laser and nanotechnology research; 
  2. Enhance their understanding and utilization of the Science and Engineering Practices of the NGSS;
  3. Make curriculum connections between the research and theNGSS; and 
  4. Rewrite current or develop new lessons and/or enrichment activities to reflect the AMO Physics research

Rolling selections begin April 24, 2017

For additional information read the articles about the past KS EPSCoR Physics Teacher workshops click on the years to follow the links.

2016 Physics Teacher Workshop

2015 Follow up with 2015 workshop attendees at KATS

2015 Physics Teacher Workshop

This educational collaborative opportunity is funded by the
Kansas NSF EPSCoR National Science Foundation Award titled:  
Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of 
Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures
No. IIA-1430493

If you if you have any questions, contact:
Rosemary Blum 
(785) 864-6120

Kansas NSF EPSCoR encourages applications from women, minorities, and underrepresented groups.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kansas EPSCoR Track 2 Researcher and University of Kansas Physicist, Dr. Hui Zhao, discovers a new bilayer material

Taken from the cover of Nanoscale Horizons,
Volume 2 Number 1 January 2017
  A member of the Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 “Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures” research team, Dr. Hui Zhao and his team at the Ultrafast Laser Lab at the University of Kansas have successfully created a new bilayer material. This material was developed by combining atomically thin layers of molybdenum disulfide and rhenium disulfide. Each layer of the new material measures less than one nanometer in thickness. According to Zhao, both molybdenum disulfide and rhenium disulfide “absorb light very well as semiconductors, and they’re both very flexible and can be stretched or compressed.” The goal of this type of research is to produce more efficient and versatile light emission devices, such as LEDS that can bend and that are just a few nanometers thick.  By creating the bilayer material, Zhao achieved the results he pursued.  In order to better explain this scientific breakthrough, Zhao used the following comparison:

“One can think of a material as a classroom full of students — which are the electrons — one on each seat,” he said. “Sitting on a seat, a student — or electron — can’t move freely to conduct electricity. Light can provide enough energy to stand up some of the students, who can now move freely and, as electrons, to conduct electricity. This process is the foundation for photovoltaic devices, where the energy of sunlight is captured and converted to electricity.” The emission of light involves the inverse process, in which a standing electron sits down in a seat, releasing its kinetic energy in the form of light.  “To make a good material for light emission devices, one needs not only the electrons that carry energy, but also the ‘seats’ — called holes — for the electrons to sit down.”

   Previous scientific studies, including some by Zhao, had already used the method of stacking different types of atomic sheets to create bilayer materials; however, those materials had the electrons and the “seats” located in different atomic layers.  Because it is difficult for electrons to find "seats," light emission efficiency of prior bilayer materials was very low – more than 100 times lower than if both electrons and “seats” were located in one atomic layer. Within this newly produced bilayer material, the electrons and their seats will be located in their original layer, instead of separate layers. Thus, the new bilayer material will produce light emissions that are much stronger.
   A cover story appearing in the January 2017 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Nanoscale Horizons by Zhao and his fellow researchers Matthew Bellus, Samuel Lane, Frank Ceballos and Qiannan Cui, all KU physics graduate students, and Ming Li and Xiao Cheng Zeng of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, titled Type-I van derWaals heterostructure formed by MoS2 and ReS2 monolayers details the how the low tech “Scotch tape” method was used to create the new bilayer material.

Funding for this Research partially provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science.

For additional information on this discovery, go to KU Today article, Using 'Scotch tape' and laser beams, researchers craft new material that could improve LED screensat at https://goo.gl/w1HKyh