My research groups primarily work on the use of laser light in the manufacture and study of glasses. In one project, for instance, laser light is used to melt a glass bead while it is being levitated by a gas. In another, we use Raman spectroscopy to look at changes in the structure of glasses, as we zap them with lasers. In a third project, we look at the molecules that come off a glass as it is hit by UV laser light. But we also work on research that does not use lasers: my students and I work on a glass that kills bacteria, in developing conducting glasses that can be used in particle detectors, and in mapping the surface topography of glasses using atomic force microscopy. And there are many other projects!
Students in my group, which average 10 per summer, are involved in all aspects of research, and they work directly with me. They manufacture glasses, study them with advanced spectroscopic techniques, report on their results, write papers for publication, present talks at national and international conferences, and spend time in the laboratories of our collaborators (which include labs in Japan, Italy, England, and the US). This is a chance to do real-world research as an undergraduate, with state of the art equipment, summer funding, and the chance to have fully paid trips to conferences and labs all over the world. The equipment is truly too numerous to list, but it includes the aerolevitator, scanning electron microscopy, two Raman spectrometers, two research-grade scanning probe microscopes (and one teaching one), two infrared (FTIR) spectrometers, a time of flight mass spectrometer, x-ray diffraction (one for research and two for teaching), calorimeters, computer modeling servers…We receive funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF, including money for the $13.5 million renovation of Peterson Hall), Corning Inc., Coe College, private foundations, alumni, and other sources. Coe is one of a few small colleges to host a national Research Experiences for Undergraduates site, funded by NSF.
We also collaborate within Coe. We have an active Center for the Study of Glass, and many projects are done in collaboration with Profs. Feller and Akgun (Physics), Singleton (Chemistry), and Leonardo (Biology). But at the end of the day, it is all about our students. It is about giving Coe students the chance to do advanced research, to learn science by doing it, and to propel them while giving them a clear competitive edge.
Approximately 75% of our majors going on to graduate schools, many of them quite prestigious. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Washington University, Illinois U-C, Wisconsin, Minnesota, UT-Austin, Iowa State, Arizona State,and many others. We also have great industrial contacts, including Corning, Schneider Electric, Google, Tesla Motors, Rockwell Collins, and several others.
In summary, the Coe physics program is a nationally recognized, active, growing, and friendly community of faculty and students engaged in high-end research, with the purpose of providing an environment where good teaching is valued and where physics can be learned by doing it. I will be happy to answer any questions!
Fran Allison and Francis Halpin Professor of Physics
- Electronically Conductive Vanadate Glasses for Resistive Plate Chamber Particle Detectors", In print, International Journal of Applied Glass Science, Jan 2015.
- Development of functional borate glass surfaces to inhibit bacterial growth
- Studies of borate glass structure using laser ionization time of flight mass spectrometry
- Mechanisms of laser induced modification of lead and barium vanadate glasses
- Laser induced modification of vanadate glasses
- Studies of oxide glass structure using laser ionization time of flight mass spectrometry