Fall 2021 Colloquia

Unless otherwise specified, all lectures will take place in CoorsTek 140/150 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

No Physics Colloquium
Colorado School of Mines, Environmental Health & Safety


MANDATORY safety training for faculty, staff, postdocs, grad students, and undergraduates working in laboratories.
No Physics Colloquium – Departmental Activity
Colorado School of Mines, Department of Physics


Kyle Leach Abstract: The search for sterile neutrinos is among the brightest possibilities in our quest for understanding the microscopic nature of dark matter in our universe. Experiments that hunt for these particles using large-volume direct-detection methods, however, have an inherent disadvantage in these searches since sterile neutrinos are predicted to have much weaker couplings to the Standard Model (SM) than the active neutrinos. As a result, the existence of these elusive particles are best probed indirectly via momentum conservation with SM particles during their creation in weak-interaction processes. One way to observe these momentum recoil effects experimentally is through high-precision measurements of nuclear electron-capture (EC) decay, where the final state only contains the neutrino and a recoiling atom. This approach is a powerful method in our search for beyond Standard Model (BSM) physics since it relies only on the existence of a heavy neutrino admixture to the active neutrinos and not on the model-dependent details of their interactions. In this talk, I will describe our Beryllium Electron capture in Superconducting Tunnel junctions (BeEST) experiment that uses the decay-momentum reconstruction technique to precisely measure the 7Li recoil spectrum following 7Be decay in sensitive superconducting tunnel junctions (STJ). I will also present our ongoing work for dramatically increasing the sensitivity of the BeEST, which includes scaling the experiment to thousand-pixel arrays and generating an atom-by-atom map of the rare-isotopes in our sensors using state-of-the-art material characterization methods combined with theoretical quantum simulations.


Bio: After completing his PhD at the University of Guelph (Canada) in 2013, Dr. Leach accepted a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the TRIUMF facility in Vancouver (Canada) performing novel in-trap decay spectroscopy studies on highly charged radioactive ions. Dr. Leach joined Mines in 2015 and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, and Faculty in both the Nuclear Engineering and Quantum Engineering Programs. Dr. Leach’s research focuses on using novel, high-precision experimental techniques to search for dark matter and other physics beyond the Standard Model that are created during nuclear decay. In addition to his involvement in major international research collaborations, Dr. Leach is the Spokesperson of the BeEST experiment to search for sterile neutrinos using superconducting quantum sensors. Related to this research direction, Dr. Leach was recently awarded the 2020 U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Research Award and named a 2019 FRIB Visiting Scholar.
Morgan State University, Physics & Engineering Physics


Abstract: Building physics majors at any institution, especially Morgan State University – a public, urban, HBCU institution, can be very challenging. To address this challenge, I am applying a modified version of my pedagogical approach called “We C.A.R.E.” which stands for Curriculum, Advisement, Recruitment/Retention/Research, and Extras. This approach utilizes an integrated strategy of cultural (family-orientated), collaborative (shared-governance), and career (personalized-pathways) modalities to provide the framework and momentum of building physics majors. Also, I expanded department research interests, projects, and collaborations to (1) provide a variety of meaningful, year-around research experiences for undergraduates at Morgan and (2) prepare students for graduate studies in physics and related STEM disciplines. Thus, a detailed overview of the “We C.A.R.E.” approach will be presented along with an emphasis on recruitment, retention and research of 1st and 2nd year students.


Biography: Dr. Rockward has a unique combination of leadership from academic, professional, and community experiences. As a tenured professor at Morehouse College, he served the past 7 years as the Chair of the Department of Physics & Dual Degree Engineering Program (Physics & DDEP) and the past 20 years as the Research Director of the Materials and Optics Research & Engineering (MORE) Laboratory. Among his professional leadership experiences, he is the President of the National Society of Black Physicists and the immediate Past President of Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honor Society. Also, he has served a combination of 23 years as Pastor of the Divine Unity Missionary Baptist Church and Associate Minister of Antioch Baptist Church North in East Point and Atlanta, Georgia, respectively. As Chair of Physics & DDEP at Morehouse, his vision and leadership resulted in the department being the US #1 producer for underrepresented minorities with Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics according to the American Institute of Physics in conjunction to boasting the Nation’s most productive Dual Degree Engineering Program. He is a strong proponent of STEM mentorship using methodologies of faculty-to-student, peer-to-peer, professional shadowing, life-skills coaching, and research apprenticeship. His current research interests include micro/nano optics lithography, extreme ultraviolet interferometry, metamaterials, terahertz imaging, nanostructure characterization, and crossed phase optics.
University of California – Irvine, Department of Physics and Astronomy


Abstract: Through the use of high power, short pulse lasers, a technology which warranted the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, a revolution is occurring in particle acceleration. Through the use of laser driven accelerators, it is possible to achieve efficient acceleration of particles and generate bright x-rays while simultaneously shrinking the size and cost of the accelerator itself, opening new applications which were not practical before. In this colloquium, we will discuss the science behind using light to accelerate particles, and some of the applications now possible.

Bio: Professor Dollar is the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for the School of Physical Sciences and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. Franklin is a member of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians. He has a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of California, Berkeley, then obtained an M.S.E. in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Applied Physics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests involve laser plasma interactions with ultrafast laser systems, performing high intensity laser experiments with near and above critical density plasmas for tabletop particle acceleration and the generation of soft and hard x-rays; and the simulation of such experiments using numerical modeling. He is involved with a variety of recruitment and retention efforts for underrepresented students in STEM fields, with a particular focus on American Indians.

UCLA, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Abstract: Extreme-environment materials present some of the most significant challenges to the development of many advanced technologies in the nuclear, aviation, space, defense, automotive, and power generation industries. Such materials are subject to unprecedented assaults of high thermal heat flux, plasma and nuclear interactions, extremely fast mechanical loads, erosion and corrosion, to mention a few examples. To meet these challenges, material development must integrate detailed models of the mechanical behavior, together with advanced mechanical design strategies. To accomplish this goal, a multiscale modelling process will be described, where a “top-down” approach is developed that allows incorporation of materials microstructure, and hence manufacturing information, into successively more detailed representations. At the macroscopic level, continuum mechanics is used to couple elasticity and elasto-plasticity, while at the meso-scale, microstructure- informed crystal plasticity and discrete fracture mechanics are used, while at the nano- and micro- scales, the method of Discrete Dislocation Dynamics completely resolves the materials microstructure. To endow this multiscale strategy with relevant design attributes, it is embedded within Multiphysics FEM-based simulations of coupled fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and structural mechanics. Three illustrative examples of the Multiscale-Multiphysics approach will be presented for the development of: (1) Plasma-Facing structures in fusion energy; (2) Extreme temperature heat exchangers (recuperators) for hybrid aviation, and (3) the Leading Edge of hypersonic vehicles.

Biography: Nasr Ghoniem is a “distinguished professor” in the departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with joint appointment in the Materials Science & Engineering Department at UCLA. He has wide experience in the development of materials in extreme environments (Nuclear, Mechanical and Aerospace), and has developed some of the most widely-used multiscale computational methods for studies of defect physics and mechanics. He is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society, the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Japan Society for Promotion of Science, and The Materials Research Society. He was the general chair of the Second International Multiscale Materials Modeling Conference in 2004 and is the chair of the 19th International Conference on Fusion Reactor Materials in 2019. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals, and has published over 350 articles, 10 edited books, and is the co-author of a two- volume book (Oxford Press) on the mechanics and physics of defects, computational materials science, radiation interaction with materials, instabilities and self-organization in non-equilibrium materials (Oxford Press, 2007, 1100 pages.) He graduated 37 Ph.D. students and 25 post-doctoral scholars (15 are currently in faculty positions). His current research on “Materials in Extreme Environments” is supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, ARPA-E, and the US Air Force Office for Scientific Research.

Physics Colloquium – title to be announced
No Physics Colloquium – Fall Break
Physics Colloquium – title to be announced
Physics Colloquium – title to be announced
Physics Colloquium – title to be announced
Physics Colloquium – title to be announced
Physics Colloquium – title to be announced