Denison Professors Awarded $300,000 National Science Foundation Grant
Posted: May 10, 2005
The National Science Foundation has awarded Denison University a grant of $279,477 for a project titled "Research in Undergraduate Institutions: Structure and Spectroscopy of Negative Ions." Under the direction of Department of Physics and Astronomy Associate Professors C. Wesley Walter and N. Daniel Gibson, the grant provides funds for undergraduate and faculty research, equipment, travel and publications.
"At our lab here at Denison, we work with students to understand the interactions between light and matter," says Walter. "In particular, the form of matter we study is negative ions, that is atoms or molecules with one or more extra electrons. Since negative ions are electrically charged particles, we are able to move them about in the laboratory using electric and magnetic fields. We then expose the ions to laser light so that we are able to measure how much energy is required to remove an extra electron."
"This experimental work, combined with new theories and calculations, allows us to understand the correlations between all of the electrons in the negative ion," Walter continued. "Investigating this interplay between the many electrons in the ion probes the deep character of the interconnections between particles that is the fundamental principle of quantum mechanics. This research has applications in areas such as semiconductor computer chips, nanotechnology and astrophysics."
Gibson and Walter both joined the Denison faculty in 1996. Gibson earned a bachelor's degree (1987) as well as a doctorate (1992) in physics from the University of Virginia. Prior to coming to Denison he taught at the University of Wisconsin and North Carolina State University. Gibson researches atomic physics related to lighting and astrophysics and has been published in journals such as Physical Review. He teaches both experimental and modern physics, optics and thermodynamics.
Walter earned a bachelor's degree (1983) at the University of Dallas and both a master's degree (1986) and doctorate (1989) at Rice University. Prior to coming to Denison, Walter taught at Saint Mary's College of California and served as director of the engineering dual degree program there. He has published more than 25 papers on atomic and molecular physics in refereed journals and has given presentations for the American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society and International Conference of Physics. Walter teaches modern physics, electromagnetic theory and introductory astronomy classes.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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