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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.

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 
rblum@ku.edu
(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



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Small College Faculty Collaboration with KU brings a low-cost Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) Instrument to MidAmerica Nazarene University

    As part of the Kansas EPSCoR Track 2 “Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures” small college collaboration initiative, Dr. Jordan Mantha, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) partnered with Dr. Chris Elles, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kansas (KU) to develop a low-cost Surface-enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) instrument. The SERS instrument is designed to investigate the reaction dynamics of photoswitching molecules interacting with plasmonic fields.  The instrument Dr. Elles and Dr. Mantha constructed was specifically designed to be easily replicated with small, primarily undergraduate institutions in mind.
   Dr. Mantha plans to use the SERS instrument in his Analytical Chemistry course this spring (2017) and he created a new lab for this course “to show SERS as modern surface-selective spectroscopic technique.”  In addition, he will use the SERS instrument in his Quantum Chemistry course to be taught in the fall of 2017.  In this course, he is planning a semester long project incorporating another new lab to mirror class discussions on vibrational spectroscopy.  This lab will provide an engaging hand-on opportunity to study and witness in real time, the concepts of reaction dynamics and plasmonic nanomaterials.  Dr. Mantha stated “This course, in particular, is taken by both Chemistry and Physics majors at MidAmerica Nazarene University and my hope is that this project will help develop our Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) and experimental physics capabilities.”  Both Dr. Mantha and Dr. Elles hope that this collaboration will expose the students at MNU to undergraduate research in physical chemistry/chemical physics, and ultimately spark an interest that encourages them to pursue graduate studies in the STEM fields.
   Overall, Dr. Mantha really appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with a large public university, and “to get back in the lab after five years as a faculty member at a small liberal arts school.”  As a result of this collaboration, Dr. Mantha went on to say, “I’ve learned a lot about plasmonic arrays and ultrafast reaction dynamics over the summer and working with the Elles group has been phenomenal. I’ve made some great new connections with the Kansas physical chemistry community and have something to bring back to my institution that will keep me involved in research and give my students an opportunity to see what ‘real’ science is like.”

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.