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Federal Grant Provides Physics Research Opportunity for Faculty, Students
 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 20, 2013 – Two faculty members in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College recently received a $623,860 grant for studying micro toroidal resonators, which are tiny ring devices made of silicon. The three-year grant is from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Dr. Malik Rakhmanov, left, and Dr. Volker Quetschke, right. 
Dr. Malik Rakhanov, left, and Dr. Volker Questschke, right, both assistant professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will conduct research on micro toroidal resonators as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The grant’s principal investigator is Dr. Malik Rakhmanov and co-investigator is Dr. Volker Quetschke, both assistant professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. They are collaborating with Dr. Qianfan Xu, an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University in Houston.
 
The grant will enable a postdoctoral research assistant and a graduate student at the university to work alongside the professors.
“It will give the students at UTB so far unheard of opportunities to learn about modern nanophotonics and to participate in experimental optics research,” said Rakhmanov. “Both these factors should result in increasing the enrollment of students in physics and engineering programs at UTB and in improving their retention rates.”
 
Nanophoto
nics is part of optical engineering and is the study of light and matter on the nanometer scale for telecommunication and computation. Experimental optics research studies light and matter on atomic and molecular levels.
The students working on the research will travel to Rice University to fabricate micro toroidal resonators using E-beam lithography instruments.
 
“We can provide our students with a work environment that they can get hired at optical companies,” said Quetschke. “Students are aware of their surroundings and can learn in conjunction with research work.”
 
The professors and students’ work using modulation spectroscopy techniques will focus on how micro toroidal resonators play a role in integrated silicon photonic circuits. The faculty members hope the work will lead to the improvement of the understanding of light-matter interactions at the nano-scale and the advancement of nanophotonics.
 
"Non
ophotonics bridges the gap to material science and nanotechnology,” said Rakhmanov. “The field is definitely emerging. Definitely many major universities are doing this kind of research.”
 
Much of the work will occur in the university’s Optics and Nanophotonics Lab in the Science, Engineering and Technology Building at The University of Texas at Brownsville.
 
“Our department is always encouraging research,” said Dr. Soma Mukherjee, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “The more we expand into newer areas the more opportunities it opens up for our students and for emerging and new kinds of research.”
 
For more information on the Department of Physics and Astronomy contact 956-882-6779 or soma@phys.utb.edu.
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