Edition 2015

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Physics

Stefan Zollner (left), Chair of the Physics Department, Hongmei Luo, associate professor of Chemical Engineering, and Heinz Nakotte, professor of physics (Photo by Hamid Mansouri Rad)

Stefan Zollner (left), Chair of the Physics Department, Hongmei Luo, associate
professor of Chemical Engineering, and Heinz Nakotte, professor of physics (Photo by Hamid Mansouri Rad)

High-Resolution, High-Intensity X-Ray Diffractometer and Reflectometer Enhances Materials Research at NMSU

A team of NMSU faculty led by Stefan Zollner, professor and chair of the Department of Physics, received a $300,000 competitive grant from the Army Research Laboratory for acquisition of a high-resolution, high-intensity X-ray diffractometer and reflectometer (XRD). The device which can be used to measure distances between atoms, dimensions of crystal structures, and film thickness supports research activities of NMSU faculty and students in various disciplines, in particular, physics and chemical engineering.

NMSU’s XRD housed at the Gardiner Hall (Photo by Hamid Mansouri Rad)

NMSU’s XRD housed at the Gardiner Hall (Photo by Hamid Mansouri Rad)

Physics professor, Heinz Nakotte employs the XRD for studying structural features of Prussian Blue Analogs (PBA). These materials are of interest for a variety of applications due to their negative thermal expansion (NTE) behavior. Unlike most materials that will expand when heated (positive thermal expansion), NTE materials contract. The underlying mechanism for NTE in PBAs is still highly debated, and Nakotte’s research focuses on structural features that may play an important role.

The XRD also helps physics professor Edwin Fohtung’s research on multiferroics, magnetoelectric, electronic, straintronics, and magnetic phases arising due to competing and/or coupled charge, spin, orbital ordering and lattice interactions. He uses the XRD to study such materials due to their application in ultrafast electronics and magnetism. Another frequent user of the XRD is Hongmei Luo, associate professor of chemical engineering, whose research activities include metal oxide and metal sulfide nanoparticles and nanowires for lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors, photocatalysts and solar cells. In addition, her research group works on epitaxal metal oxide and nitride thin films for superconductors and magnetic applications.

Edwin Fohtung, assistant professor of physics

Edwin Fohtung, assistant professor of physics

Hongmei Luo, Edwin Fohtung, Heinz Nakotte, and Shuguang Deng (professor of chemical engineering) are co-PIs for the acquisition of the XRD.