Faculty Achievements

If you have any news such as publications, awards, departmental news, or anything else you want to share,
please email Dr. Sean McBride (mcbrides@marshall.edu).

Dr. Maria Babiuc-Hamilton

Posted on October 5, 2017 :
Dr. Maria Babiuc Hamilton and her collaborators recently published a paper in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, titled, “GiRaFFE: an open-source general relativistic force-free electrodynamics code.”

The paper comes with an open source code, “GiRaFFE,” which is able to simulate both gravitational and light waves emitted by sources like binary black holes and neutron stars. This is important, in the light of the recent detection of gravitational waves by three observatories, which makes it possible to determine the sky location of gravitational waves. This will allow prompt follow-up with telescopes, at last opening the skies to “multimessenger astronomy.” This new approach will tell astronomers much more about the physics of black hole collisions, gamma-ray bursts, and other powerful phenomena in space.

The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR Research Infrastructure grant for Marshall and WVU: “Waves of the Future: Capacity Building for the Rising Tide of STEM in West Virginia” and the “Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology.”

This publication comes at the end of a busy summer for Dr. Maria Babiuc Hamilton. She was accepted into a Summer Program at the renowned Aspen Center for Physics where she participated in two workshops, was a Keynote speaker at the Green Bank Star Quest XV, presented at the National Youth Science Camp , and gave a talk on gravitational waves at the Blackwater Falls Astronomy Weekend, organized by the Kanawha Valley Astronomical Society. If interested in learning more about these events, please contact Dr. Maria Babiuc Hamilton about these events or visit her homepage.

Collaborators for the recent publication: (Zachariah B. Etienne and Sean T. McWilliams from West Virginia University, Mew-Bing Wan from the Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, China, and graduate student Ashok Choudhary.)

Journal: Classical and Quantum Gravity (Classical and Quantum Gravity, vol. 34, no. 21, 27 September 2017.)

Observatories: (including the new Virgo)

See: We Are Marshall: the Newsletter for Marshall University

 Dr. Jon Saken


Posted on August 15, 2017 :
A team of students led by Dr. Jon Saken from Marshall University representing the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium will launch a high-altitude balloon on Monday, Aug. 21, as part of a nationwide, NASA-sponsored project to live-stream aerial video footage of the “Great American Eclipse.”

The team will launch the roughly 8-foot-tall, helium-filled balloon, which will carry a video camera and other equipment to an altitude of up to 100,000 feet, at approximately 12:20 p.m. CDT (1:20 p.m. EDT) from a remote site in southern Illinois. Live footage from the camera will be available for public viewing on NASA’s website, http:// eclipse.stream.live.

Click here to read more.

WCHS ABC 8 Eyewitness News Reports

Click here for video link of time lapse footage (feel free to mute or lower the volume on your speakers first).

Dr. Thomas Wilson

WilsonWilson Award


Posted on July 25, 2017
Thomas Wilson, Professor of Physics, Marshall University (http://science.marshall.edu/wilsont/ ) has won the Low-Cost Apparatus Competition with his Kelvin Current Balance at the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Summer Meeting 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio (July 22-26, 2017). See picture to the right showcasing the award winning apparatus. Click the following link for more of a description: http://www.marshall.edu/physics/files/AAPT-2017-Summer-Meeting-Wilson.pdf

See: We Are Marshall: the Newsletter for Marshall University

Dr. Sean P. McBride


Posted on July 24, 2017
Dr. Sean P. McBride, Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Physics at Marshall University, has been part of a collaboration of investigators studying the mechanical response of self-assembled nanoparticle membranes when they are exposed to changes in temperature and other environmental stimuli. The collaboration’s research findings are presented in a recent publication in ACS Nano entitled “Thermomechanical Response of Self-Assembled Nanoparticle Membranes”. The publication can be viewed at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsnano.7b02676 or https://works.bepress.com/sean-mcbride/.

In addition to McBride, members of this collaboration included Dr. Yifan Wang, lead author currently at California Institute of Technology, who worked with research mentor and co-author Dr. Heinrich M. Jaeger at the James Franck Institute and the Department of Physics at University of Chicago, and fellow co-authors Drs. Henry Chan, Badri Narayanan, and Subramanian K. R. S. Sankaranarayanan, and Xiao-Min Lin, who are all researchers from the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National laboratory.

Recently, self-assembled nanoparticle monolayer membranes consisting of nanometer sized metallic or semiconducting particle cores capped with short organic ligands have attracted considerable attention. This is because these membranes can easily be formed via self-assembly techniques at liquid vapor interfaces and maintain the unique optical, electronic, or magnetic functionality of the core nanoparticles. These types of ultra-thin membranes have demonstrated potential uses such as drumhead resonators for potential use in sensors and filtration membranes for potential use in water purification applications. Understanding the mechanical response from these types of membranes under different external stimuli found in Nature, such as temperature and humidity, is of great importance for use in such applications.

Abstract: Monolayers composed of colloidal nanoparticles, with a thickness of less than 10 nm, have remarkable mechanical moduli and can suspend over micrometer-sized holes to form free-standing membranes. In this paper, we discuss experiments and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations characterizing the thermomechanical properties of these self-assembled nanoparticle membranes. These membranes remain strong and resilient up to temperatures much higher than previous simulation predictions and exhibit an unexpected hysteretic behavior during the first heating−cooling cycle. We show this hysteretic behavior can be explained by an asymmetric ligand configuration from the self-assembly process and can be controlled by changing the ligand coverage or cross-linking the ligand molecules. Finally, we show the screening effect of water molecules on the ligand interactions can largely change the moduli and thermomechanical behavior.

See: We Are Marshall: the Newsletter for Marshall University

Dr. Sean P. McBride


Posted on May 6, 2017
Dr. Sean P. McBride, Assistant Professor in the Physics Department, was invited to be the inaugural guest Blogger on the new Center for Teaching and Learning Blog (http://www.marshall.edu/ctl/?p=3012). On this post, Dr. McBride describes how the use of Blackboard analytics helps both teachers and students. The overall aim of the blog is to provide fellow faculty with a resource revolving around teaching innovation and teaching experiences from faculty. In the inaugural post, Dr. McBride gives the descriptions of the classes that he has incorporated Blackboard into and how he uses Blackboard to achieve the objectives of those classes. At the end of the blog, Dr. McBride offers the reader statistical data in the form of plots generated by Blackboard. These plots address some of the below basic questions faculty may have about their courses:

  • How often does the current generation of tech savvy students really use Blackboard?
  • I use Blackboard, but I wonder which students are actually looking at the material I have posted?
  • What day of the week and hour of the day do students access Blackboard?
  • How long does each student spend in Blackboard and what are they looking at?
  • Will my students check Blackboard more often than if I just post class material on the cork board outside my office?
  • Is there any data that suggests students who access the material posted in Blackboard perform better than those students who chose not to access the provided materials in Blackboard?

The data used for the plots was extracted from one of Dr. McBride’s own classes this spring 2017 semester. Dr. McBride will continually update these stats for this particular class on his own teaching web page (http://www.science.marshall.edu/mcbrides/teaching/).

In summary, as of 5/6/2017 his course has had 13,802 page hits from the 26 students who completed the class and the entire class from day 1 has logged nearly 1,037 hours outside of class on Blackboard; so yes, the current generation of tech savvy students really do use Blackboard. The data also seems to suggest that the specific students who use Blackboard do better in class.

To set-up your own courses in Blackboard, see the experts in the Design Center in Room 235, Drinko Library, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, 304-696-7117, designcenter@marshall.edu.

Dr. Sean P. McBride


Posted on March 8, 2017
Bruce M. Law, Professor of Physics, Kansas State University, Sean P. McBride, Assistant Professor of Physics (works.bepress.com/sean-mcbride), Marshall University, and a host of international collaborators from leading institutions from around the worldi have published “Line tension and its influence on droplets and particles at interfaces” as a review article in Progress in Surface Science, volume 92, pages 1-39, 2017. It can be viewed at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.progsurf.2016.12.002.

The line tension parameter, τ is a result of excess energy caused by the imbalance of the complex intermolecular forces experienced at the three-phase contact line and plays a key role in the stability of particles at interfaces. This review addresses the differences in the sign and magnitude of τ over the different length scales over which it acts.

Abstract: In this review, we examine the influence of the line tension τ on droplets and particles at surfaces. The line tension influences the nucleation behavior and contact angle of liquid droplets at both liquid and solid surfaces and alters the attachment energetics of solid particles to liquid surfaces. Many factors, occurring over a wide range of length scales, contribute to the line tension. On atomic scales, atomic rearrangements and reorientations of sub-molecular components give rise to an atomic line tension contribution τatom (∼1 nN), which depends on the similarity/dissimilarity of the droplet/particle surface composition compared with the surface upon which it resides. At nanometer length scales, an integration over the van der Waals interfacial potential gives rise to a mesoscale contribution |τvdW| ∼ 1–100 pN while, at millimeter length scales, the gravitational potential provides a gravitational contribution τgrav ∼ +1–10 μN. τgrav is always positive, whereas, τvdW can have either sign. Near wetting, for very small contact angle droplets, a negative line tension may give rise to a contact line instability. We examine these and other issues in this review.
iSee link for full Author list

Dr. Thomas Wilson


Posted on February 22, 2017
Zhi Liang, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, California State University – Fresno, Thomas Wilson, Professor of Physics, Marshall University (http://science.marshall.edu/wilsont/), and Pawel Keblinski, Professor and Department Head, Materials Science and Engineering Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, have published “Phonon interference in crystalline and amorphous confined nanoscopic films” in the Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 121, Issue 8, 075303, February 28, 2017. It can be viewed online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4976563.

Phonons are the primary thermal energy carriers in semiconductor devices. As the size of semiconductor components in microelectronics reduces to nanoscale, phonon scattering at material interfaces can strongly affect thermal transport in nanostructured components. It has been found in numerous experiments and numerical simulations that the specular reflection and transmission of phonon waves at interfaces of nanostructured components may result in phonon interference effects which can be used for the modification of phonon dispersion and for controlling nanoscale heat transport.

Abstract: Using molecular dynamics phonon wave packet simulations, we study phonon transmission across hexagonal (h)-BN and amorphous silica (a-SiO2) nanoscopic thin films sandwiched by two crystalline leads. Due to the phonon interference effect, the frequency-dependent phonon transmission coefficient in the case of the crystalline film (Si|h-BN|Al heterostructure) exhibits a strongly oscillatory behavior. In the case of the amorphous film (Si|a-SiO2|Al and Si|a-SiO2|Si heterostructures), in spite of structural disorder, the phonon transmission coefficient also exhibits oscillatory behavior at low frequencies (up to ∼1.2 THz), with a period of oscillation consistent with the prediction from the two-beam interference equation. Above 1.2 THz, however, the phonon interference effect is greatly weakened by the diffuse scattering of higher-frequency phonons within an a-SiO2 thin film and at the two interfaces confining the a-SiO2 thin film.

See: We Are Marshall: the Newsletter for Marshall University

If you have any news such as publications, awards, departmental news, or anything else you want to share,
please email Dr. Sean McBride (mcbrides@marshall.edu).

Contact mcbrides@marshall.edu if you have trouble accessing the Physics Department website or experience errors. Questions about the content can also be addressed to mcbrides@marshall.edu.