Welcome from the Chair

Dear Alumni and Friends of the Department of Physics,

Welcome to the spring 2020 department newsletter (delivered in the summer)! There is no doubt that recent times have been unusual. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had to switch to teaching all our classes remotely at spring break and had to shift to doing research off-campus as well. Since mid- to late-May we have been partially back on campus for research and limited work in other capacities at a low level, but campus has been quiet for months now.

The quiet campus has given me an appreciation for many things that I have taken for granted before, with the spontaneous interactions with students and co-workers something that I miss strongly. I also miss all the chances to get together with former colleagues, alumni, and CSU-related friends at events and other opportunities that cannot occur right now. The quiet campus is deceptive, though. We are continuing to do all the good things that we do in research, teaching, outreach, and service. Often this is in new ways as we adapt to new circumstances, but activity in the department and at CSU in general continues to move forward.

It is our hope that everyone reading this newsletter is doing well and able to stay safe, while understanding that the reach of this pandemic is such that our extended network of alumni and friends and those that they care about include people who have been impacted directly. We are happy to bring you good news from the department in this newsletter, and as our work is continuing we will be able to do so again this fall.


Jacob Roberts,
Physics Department Chair

Department Highlights

Mark Bradley Advances the Field in Ion Bombardment

Mark Bradley portrait

A member of the Physics department for 33 years, Professor Mark Bradley serves the department as the associate chair for research. Bradley’s research is taking on exciting new directions, so we asked him to reflect on his current research and the future challenges ahead.

Faculty Highlights

Walter Toki – The Story Behind T2K

Toki headshot

With the recent successful results of the T2K collaboration, we asked Professor Walter Toki to share the story behind his work on the T2K experiment, as well as reflect on his broader career.

Alumni News

Physics Alum Passionate About Undergraduate Success

Liu with undergraduate student

“I am passionate about undergraduate success,” said Jason Liu. “My research program involves giving undergraduates a rigorous research experience so that they will be successful after graduation.”

Faculty News

Hua Chen and Kate Ross publish in Science

In a recent paper published in Science, a multi-national team involving Hua Chen and Kate Ross demonstrated that an intermetallic compound HoAgGe is a realization of the kagome ice state. Through experimental and theoretical approaches including magnetometry, thermodynamic measurements, neutron scattering, and Monte Carlo simulations, they have established that the low-temperature (<15K) spin states of the system can be reasonably well captured by a classical spin model hosting the kagome ice physics. The coexisting metallicity and spin ice phenomena may lead to other exotic physics such as interaction between electric currents and effective magnetic monopoles that deserves future study. 

Jim Sites Honored with William R Cherry Award

Jim Site portrait

Jim Sites will be honored for his solar-cell research with the prestigious William R. Cherry Award for 2020, which will be presented at the IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conference this summer. Sites was also was recently awarded a new grant from the DOE to continue work on increasing the efficiency and performance of solar cells, focusing on cadmium telluride as a solar material. Says Sites, “I am deeply honored to receive the Cherry Award this year, which in large measure reflects the successful graduate work of many of our students over the past forty years.”

Department News

Emeritus Professors Continue to Connect

Walter Toki recently organized a get together for retired faculty members and spouses. Future meetings will be scheduled, including some remotely. If you would like more information, reach out to Walter Toki at walter.toki@colostate.edu.

Little Shop Of Physics Open House Hosts a Record Number of People

The Little Shop of Physics 29th Annual Open House was held, appropriately enough, on the 29th of February, and it drew a record crowd of over 10,000 visitors—including one very special visitor, Joyce McConnell, the new President of CSU. The Little Shop team set up 4 rooms of hands-on science experiment stations, and were joined by science partners from across the College and the University. The team celebrated the successful day with dozens of former interns from as far away as Florida and with special guests and collaborators from Norway.