Faculty Research


Radio Astronomy, Dr. Chuck Higgins
Overview:  MTSU has two ground-based radio telescopes that collect radio wave polarization data from Jupiter and the Sun forthe study of magnetospheres, plasma environments, solar-planetary connections, and planet-satellite interactions. We comparethese data with other professional radio telescopes such as the Long Wavelength Array (LWA) in Socorro, NM, and with the Junospacecraft mission at Jupiter. To study Earth’s ionosphere, MTSU will collect radio astronomy data during upcoming solar eclipses.We are part of a NASA-affiliated education project called Radio JOVE that focuses on science education and outreach.
Activities:  Radio telescope operation; collection, reduction, and analysis of Jupiter and solar radio wave polarization data.
Education and Public Outreach programs. 
Minimum Student background:  Completed 1-year of general physics
Exoplanets, Dr. Eric Klumpe
Overview:  The Kepler spacecraft is space observatory designed to search for indirect evidence of planets that are orbiting other stars. Data (light curves) are downloaded from a Kepler archive and the research goal is to determine the orbital characteristics of the exoplanets on the basis of those light curves.
Activities:  Curve fitting, Fourier analysis, orbital mechanics, MATLAB programming.
Minimum student background: enrolled in Modern Physics
Eclipsing Binary Stars, Dr. Eric Klumpe
Overview:  Utilize the MTSU-Observatory/CCD-camera to obtain light-curve data from known eclipsing binary stars.
Activities:  Identify potential candidate stars, telescope operations, CCD imaging, CCD data reduction
Minimum student background: enrolled in Modern Physics
Astrodynamics, Dr. Eric Klumpe
Overview:  Design a symplectic integrator to find solutions for a variety of astrodynamical problems.
Activities:  Symplectic integrators, computer programming
Minimum student background: enrolled in Modern Physics, some programming experience
Laser Tweezers, Dr. Daniel Erenso 
Overview:  Laser tweezers can conveniently grab and move particles whose dimensions range from tens of nanometers to tens of microns. This novel optical-tweezer nano-manipulation capability, combined with high-resolution imaging and digital image analysis, has created a new and powerful class of experimental techniques for probing the structure, mechanical deformation properties, and interactions of biological systems at cellular and molecular levels.
Activities:  Application of tweezers to red blood cells and cancer cells, data acquisition with laser tweezers, image analysis, theoretical modeling
Minimum student background: enrolled in Modern Physics
Quantum Entanglement, Dr. Daniel Erenso 
Overview:  Quantum mechanics predicts some odd but very useful behavior in particles on the picometer scale. Entanglement is one of these odd features of quantum mechanics that can lend itself to uses in the field of information technology. Indeed, quantum information processing is the next step in the technological advancement of mankind. We create entangled photons using type I spontaneous parametric down-conversion in a beta barium borate crystal and detect them.
Activities:  Theoretical analysis of quantum entanglement, experimental optics, data acquisition and analysis
Minimum student background: completed Theoretical Physics
The Nanophysics Research Group, Dr. Suman Neupane  http://www.mtsu.edu/faculty/sneupane/index.php
Overview:  Focus on synthesis and characterization of applied nanomaterials including carbon nanotubes, graphene, metal oxides, and topological insulators. The goal is to explore the nanoscale electronic transport properties at various temperatures in order to understand how these materials behave at reduced dimension. Applications include energy generation and storage, as well as bio-sensors and chemical sensors for fast detection of trace elements. We also plan to investigate applications of these nanomaterials in medicine for targeted drug delivery to help reduce drug side effects.
Activities: Chemical vapor deposition, hydrothermal synthesis, thin film deposition, photolithography, electron microscopy, device fabrication and testing.
Student Background: Motivated students at all levels are welcomed.
Optical Biosensor, Dr. William Robertson
Overview: Continuing work on research and development of a biosensor technology based on optical waves in multilayer structures. This unique patented sensing method was initially pioneered at MTSU.
Activities: Applying various sensor configurations to develop biological and chemical sensors.  New applications in photonic and non-linear optical enhancement phenomena.
Minimum student background: Enrolled in Modern Physics. Knowledge and/or interest in biology/chemistry a plus.
Acoustics, Dr. William Robertson
Overview: Computer simulations and experiments in acoustic band gap and acoustic metamaterials.
Activities: Experimental acoustic measurements using the impulse response technique. The experiments generally explore arrayed systems of resonators that are designed to manipulate the properties of sound wave propagation including extraordinary acoustic transmission, acoustic lensing, and realization of fast and slow acoustic group velocities. The experiments are designed and interpreted using computer simulations in MATLAB and COMSOL.
Minimum student background: Enrolled in Modern Physics. Programming experience a plus.
Terahertz spectroscopy, Dr William Robertson
Overview: Terahertz spectroscopy measures the properties of materials in a region of the electromagnetic spectrum between the far infra-red and microwave wavelengths. The technique uses electrical pulses created and detected by photoconductive switches activated by pulses from a femtosecond laser.
Activities:  Students will create samples, measure their terahertz response, and then interpret and evaluate the results using numerical Fourier analysis.

Minimum student background: Enrolled in Modern Physics. Enrollment or completion of Theoretical Physics an advantage.