News and Events

UofM Professor receives Grant from West Cancer Foundation

It is a pleasure to announce that Dr. Muhammad Shah Jahan has received a grant from the West Cancer Foundation to investigate “Freeing the Radicals: Enabling patients to better understand the care they need, through knowledge of free radicals and their relation to cancer.” These awards are very competitive, and we look forward to the results that we hope will provide insight for prevention of cancer-causing free radicals. Congratulations, Dr. Jahan!

UofM Assistant Professor Receives NSF-ERI Grant

We are pleased to announce that Dr Shawn Pollard has been awarded an NSF-ERI grant. Dr. Pollard is an Assistant Professor in the Department of  Physics and Materials Science at the UofM. The title of the proposal is "Compositionally modulated ferrimagnets for spin-orbitronic devices."  Congratulations, Dr Pollard!

Recognizing First Physics Ph.D. Graduate, Jiyang Chen

It a pleasure to recognize to recognize Jiyang Chen's completion of his Ph.D. degree in Physics under the supervision of Dr. Thang Hoang. Jiyang Chen defended his thesis, "Silicon-Based Nanostructures: Growth and Characterizations of Si2Te3 Nanowires and Nanoplates" in April 2021. His work developed a comprehensive understanding of properties of Si2Te3 nanostructures and to provide useful information on using these new nanomaterials as building blocks for RRAM devices, optoelectronic, and chemical sensing. In particular, it was demonstrated that the switching behavior of the Si2Te3 nanomaterials exhibit promise for applications in the Random Access Memory devices, while the anisotropic optical behavior is relevant in polarized sensor applications. Jiyang has accepted an offer from Bruker and will return to China, where he will work with various X-ray instrumentation that perform X-ray diffraction, and X-Ray fluorescence spectroscopy. His time and efforts at the University of Memphis have been greatly appreciated and he will be missed. Jiyang came to consider the people in the Department as a second family. He hopes to return to the United States in the future and would love to continue to support the Department of Physics and Materials Science at the University of Memphis in the future. On behalf of the Department of Physics and Materials Science, we wish Jiyang success in his future endeavours.

Remembering UofM Emeritus Professor Narahari Achar

It grieves us to announce that Professor Emeritus Narahari Achar passed away on 23 April 2021. Dr. Narahari Achar joined the Physics faculty at the University of Memphis in 1984. He had a broad research interests ranging from topics in the electric properties of materials to applied fractional calculus to ancient astronomy and published prolifically in these areas. His wise, encouraging words and affable demeanor benefited his colleagues and students at the University of Memphis. He will be greatly missed.

We would invite you to visit Dr. Achar's online memorial, which is a testament to the positive impact his life had on faculty, staff, students--all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

UofM Professor's Temperature Sensing Probe to be Tested in Space, currently on International Space Station

Dr. Firouzeh Sabri's research group at the UofM has been working on advancing the application of phosphor-based temperature measurements to space. This is a precise and low-cost technique for rapid temperature measurement over the range of 0°C to 1,200° C.  Nevertheless, materials outside of the protection of Earth's atmosphere must be resistant to the extreme temperatures and radiation of space, and thus they are now being tested in this environment on board the ISS. Results from this project will shed light on the radiation tolerance of phosphor powders and composites, providing critical information on the stability of the temperature-dependent properties of phosphor. This experiment will aid in determining the feasibility of using phosphor composite sensors for temperature measurements relevant to the healthcare, petroleum, and aerospace industries.  More information is available here

Assistant Professor leads two JWST studies of the inner workings of giant black holes 

Dr. Francisco Muller Sanchez is the PI of two successful James Webb Space Telescope proposals that will characterize the environments around supermassive black holes. The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world's premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

NASA Office of STEM Engagement Grant awarded to Physics and Materials Science faculty member 

Dr. Firouzeh Sabri was awarded grant from NASA's Office of STEM Engagement (in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Ivey) to convert content from her space sciences research into curriculum content for K-12. This will incorporate elements of Materials Physics at a suitable level for science classes. This work ties in nicely with Dr. Sabri's research in phosphor thermometry which was recently selected for investigation on board the International Space Station National Laboratory (ISSNL) and awarded a grant by ISSNL to conduct the work. Her project is currently scheduled for a February launch. Congratulations to Dr. Sabri and Dr. Ivey!

Physics and Materials Science faculty member among UofM faculty awarded a joint NSF ADVANCE grant

Dr. Firouzeh Sabri was awarded an NSF ADVANCE grant as a co-PrincipaI Investigator (co-PI) in collaboration with Dr. Esra Ozdenerol (PI) and fellow co-PIs Drs. Stephanie Ivey, Craig Steward, Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw, Jacob Allen, and CAS Dean Abby Parrill-Baker. The purpose of the supported work is the fostering of gender equity in STEM throughout the UofM. Specifically, the intended outcome is an increasingly inclusive campus environment reflected in recruiting, hiring, retaining, and advancing of STEM women faculty, especially underrepresented minorities. Congratulations to Dr. Sabri and all the project PIs!

UM Physics Professor Discusses Nobel Prize Winning Work of his Ph.D. Advisor Dr. Reinhard Genzel

On December 8, 2020, the Nobel Prize Ceremony took place, in which Dr. Reinhard Genzel (along with Dr. Roger Penrose and Dr. Andrea Ghez) gave his Nobel Lectures and was awarded 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics. Please follow this link to see Dr. Muller Sanchez discuss the details of this scientific discovery. Additionally, Dr. Muller Sanchez shares what it was like to work with Dr. Genzel and the factors that contributed to his success.

UofM Physics and Materials Science Department Recognized in AIP Survey

A recent report published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), surveying Enrollments and Degrees in physics departments across the nation from 2016 to 2018, named the Uof M Physics and Materials Science Department among the top 12 percent of masters-granting departments for 15 bachelor degrees granted. For more information, please see the AIP report.

UofM Physics Student Participates in Prestigious Astronomy Summer Research Program

Savannah Woods

During summer 2020, student Savannah Woods participated in a summer research program at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, VA. Savannah--who is an undergraduate student at the UofM majoring in Physics with an Astronomy concentration--performed research at the NRAO studying Luminous InfraRed Galaxies (LIRGs). As their name suggests, these galaxies possess large luminosities in the infra-red portion of the electromagnetic spectrum due to enhanced star formation typically originating from galactic mergers. Savannah analyzed data from the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, and Herschel (a space-based, infrared observatory). The experience provided the opportunity to work closely with leading astronomers from University of Virginia, UMass Amherst, Universidad Nacional Autonóma de Honduras, and Caltech among others, as well as to meet other undergraduate and graduate physics and astronomy students from other institutions. Savannah will be continuing her summer project as a student intern with the NRAO throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Savannah's research talk is available here. For more information about Astronomy at the University of Memphis, please visit Dr. Muller Sanchez's page.

Welcome to Dr. Shawn Pollard!

It is our pleasure to offer a warm welcome to Dr. Shawn Pollard who joins the University of Memphis Department of Physics and Materials Science as Assistant Professor. We look forward to working with him. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Pollard. Stop past Manning Hall to greet him, even if you have to wait until campus opens fully.

Congratulations to the 2020 MS Graduating Class


The Deparment of Physics and Materials Science recognizes the wonderful accomplishments of the students who have graduated with MS degrees in August 2020. Congratulations to Dipendra Singh Khatri, Netra Dhakal, Yu Zhu, Kamal Ranabhat, Deepa Guragain, Juan Chen, Negar Charchi, Subash Bhandari, and Trae Staggers. We are proud of you, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Remembering Dr. Donald Franceschetti, Professor Emeritus at UM

In July 2020, we commemorate the one-year anniversary of the passing of Dr. Donald Franceschetti. Dr. Franceschetti was a valued member of the department faculty and made numerous contributions in teaching, research, and leadership. A memorial lecture and reception to honor him and his many contributions had been planned and scheduled; unfortunately, it had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. He is greatly missed, and we are grateful for all the ways in which he enriched the lives of his colleagues and students at the University of Memphis. We look forward to a time, when life returns to normal, in which we will be able to remember him together.

DNA Self-Assembled to Form UM Logo Featured in Peer-Reviewed Journal

DNA self-assembled into UM Logo

Command the DNA molecular self-assembly into the shape of the UM logo to represent the University of Memphis. This work was recently published in Physical Review Applied 13, 014026 (2020). The work was done by Mr. Netra Dhakal and Dr. Jinghua Jiang from Dr. Chenhui Peng's Active Soft Matter Laboratory.

Physics faculty member awarded NIH grant

Dr. Thang Hoang (in collaboration with Dr. Xiaohua Huang, Chemistry) has recently been awarded an NIH grant to support a project titled "Single exosome protein profiling with surface enhanced Raman scattering imaging". This project aims at developing a technique to detect cancer from single exosomes by using plasmonic nanoparticles. The main mechanism relies on the enhanced Raman scattering by the presence of metal nanoparticles such as gold nanostars and nanorods. Because of its very high sensitivity, this technique allows for the detection of breast cancer at early stages. The award total is $415,740 and runs from July 2020 until June 2023. For more information about Dr. Hoang's research lab, visit his webpage. His biographical information and publications can be found on his faculty profile pages. Congratulations to Dr. Hoang!

Physics faculty member awarded NSF grant

Dr. Mohamed Laradji was recently awarded an NSF grant to support a project titled "Membrane-Mediated Interactions between Anisotropic Nanoparticles". This project utilizes coarse-grained numerical simulations and theory to investigate effective interactions between anisotropic nanoparticles and their self-assembly, which are mediated by their adhesion on lipid membranes. The results of this project are important for the development of nanomaterials for a variety of biomedical applications, such as biosensing, diagnostics, drug delivery, magnetic hyperthermia and photothermal therapy. The award total is $309,367 and runs from January 2020 until December 2022. For more information, please visit Dr. Laradji's research webpage.

PhD program in Applied Physics approved by the state

On Jan 31st, 2020, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved the Department's PhD program in Applied Physics. The program will start in Fall 2020 and is now accepting applicants. The application deadline is April 1st. For more information, please visit the Prospective PhD student webpage.

Physics faculty awarded prestigious Ralph E. Powe Enhancement Award

Dr. Thang Ba Hoang has recently been recognized by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) with the 2018 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award in Physical Sciences. The Awards (35 faculty awarded nationwide) provide seed money for junior faculty at ORAU member institutions to conduct their research (award website). These awards are intended to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty and result in new funding opportunities. For more information about Dr. Hoang's research lab, visit his webpage. Congratulations to Dr. Hoang! His bio and publications can be found on his faculty profile pages.

Physics faculty members receive NSF grants

Dr. Xiao Shen and Dr. Jingbiao Cui have recently been awarded an NSF grant to support a project titled "Silicon Telluride, A 2D Material with Unique Variable Structure." The research team combines theoretical and experimental studies to develop 2D materials with desirable properties and to achieve a fundamental understanding of the unique phenomenon in silicon telluride, which is expected to make significant impact on the field of low dimensional materials, electronic and optoelectronic industry. The research activities are integrated with educational efforts, augmenting the undergraduate and graduate curricula through hands-on projects, enriched course materials, and summer workshops on nanomaterials to inspire the students' interest in science, The total award is $392,679 and it runs from July 1st 2017 through June 30th 2020. For more information on the recipients' research, please follow their links on our Physics Faculty webpage.

Dr. Thang Ba Hoang has also recently been awarded an NSF grant  to support his project titled "Directional Superradiant Light Emission from Epsilon-Near-Zero Plasmonic Nanochannels." The project utilizes experimental and theoretical approaches to help realize new materials and structures that enable controlled light emission for use in next generation energy efficient electronics, such as nanoscale lasers, as well as well advanced optical communications and sensing technologies. The project supports undergraduate and graduate student involvement in research as a means of encouraging pursuit of advanced study and research careers in nanophotonics. The total award amounts $361,177 and it runs from July 1st 2017 through June 30th 2020. Read more on Dr. Hoang's research Electronic and Photonic Nanomaterials Laboratory.

Interested undergraduate and graduate students (Masters and Doctoral) are welcome to participate in these cutting-edge research projects. We encourage interested  students to apply. To get detailed information about these opportunities, contact Dr. Hoang, Dr. Shen or Dr. Cui to express your interest and learn more about their ongoing projects.

Congratulations to Dr. Hoang, Dr. Shen and Dr. Cui!  

Dr. Shen selected as Early Career Research Award (ECRA) recipient

Dr. Xiao Shen has been selected by the College's Graduate Council as one of the recipients of an Early Career Research Award (ECRA). The members of the ECRA subcommittee, who reviewed the materials, were highly impressed with both the quality and the amount of research productivity of Dr. Shen and all of the recipients. This award carries with it the sum of $500, available over the 2017-2018 academic year. The money can be used to purchase books, for professional travel, or in some way that furthers your research; however, it cannot be used as salary. Recipients will also be recognized during the CAS faculty meeting in August with a plaque. The other 2017 awardees are selected Inmaculada Gomez-Soler, World Languages and Literature; Kathryn Howell, Psychology. Read more about Dr. Shen's research at his faculty webpage.

The Lois McGlothlin Donaldson Endowed Lecture in Physics

Dr. Clifford Will will present "Black Holes, Waves of Gravity & Other Warped Ideas of Dr. Einstein," as the second Lois McGlothlin Donaldson Endowed Lecture in Physics for 2017. The event is March 31 in the University Center Theatre with a reception beginning at 6:00 p.m and lecture at 6:30 p.m. More on this event.

Congratulations on the great impact of Physics research team

Cumulative Downloads By Countries (Total: 1500) Microscopic Formulation of Fractional Theory of ViscoelasticityDrs. Narahari Achar and John Hanneken received notification from Intech, the World's largest Science, Technology & Medicine Open Access book publisher that their book chapter has been downloaded over 1500 times. The chapter titled, "Microscopic Formulation of Fractional Theory of Viscoelasticity" is published in the book, Viscoelasticity - From Theory to Biological Applications. The chapter was downloaded in Brazil, Germany, India, China and USA. Intech Article Stats

Physics professor receives award

Narahari AcharDr. Narahari Achar received the Donald E. Osterbrock Prize for his contribution to the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (2nd edition). The award is given to the author or authors of a book "judged to advance the field of the history of astronomy" by The AAS Historical Astronomy Division. View Certificate.

Dr. Achar also received the World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES) 2016 Abhinandanam for Outstanding Service to the Vedic Studies, New Delhi, December 2016. See Award.

Dr. Naseeb Shaheen Scholarship Awarded to Physics and Biology Major

Martina RodriguezMartina Rodriguez Sala, Physics and Biology major, is the recipient of the 2016 Dr. Naseeb Shaheen Scholarship and is currently working on her research in Experimental Materials Physics under the supervision of Dr F Sabri. She is also the recipient of an Helen Hardin Honors Summer Research Fellowship. Congratulations Martina for receiving this award! This scholarship is awarded to students majoring in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, or Geography who plan to become high school teachers in one or more of these subjects.


Faculty Member awarded Ralph E. Powe Enhancement Award in Physical Sciences

The Oak Ridge Associated Universities recognized Dr. Xiao Shen with the 2016 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award in Physical Sciences. The Awards provide seed money for research by junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. These awards are intended to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty and result in new funding opportunities. For more information about Dr. Shen's research, visit his webpage.

Physics Faculty Recognized for Exceptional Teaching and Research

Dr. Mohamed Laradji is the recipient of the Alumni Association Distinguished Research in Science, Engineering and Mathematics. The Alumni Association may make up to five awards annually to faculty who have brought honor and recognition to the University through their research or creative activities. 

Ms. Joanne Rhodes is the recipient of the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation Award for Teaching award. The Briggs Award recognizes teaching excellence at the undergraduate level and overall commitment to undergraduate education.

Both awards will be presented at the Faculty Convocation. (UofM press release, UofM Will Recognize Exceptional Teaching and Research at Faculty Convocation)

UofM Scholars Publish Paper in Esteemed Journal:

Congratulations to our very own Xiumei Geng and Weiwei Sun (both students of Dr. Jingbiao, Chair), who recently published an article in the leading journal Nature Communications. The article, entitled "Pure and stable metallic phase molybdenum disulfide nanosheets for hydrogen evolution reaction", reveals new possibilities for the synthesis of stable, two-dimensional metallic-phase MoS2 nanosheets in water. 

Internships and Fellowships

Kate MitchellKate Mitchell, an undergraduate Physics major, is the recipient of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) summer internship fellowship, to be held at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. During her internship she will be working on High Strength Structural Carbon Nanotube Composites for Spacecraft Structures. Kate is currently conducting materials research in the Bio, Nano, and Space Materials Laboratory under Dr Firouzeh Sabri's supervision. Kate is also the recipient of the 2015 Marchini Physics scholarship. Kate says, "I'm really honored to have been given these opportunities and look forward to spending my summer at NASA". Congratulations to Kate!


The 2016/17 Dr. Robert Marchini Scholarship was awarded to Jacob Hadley, a third year physics senior in our 3+2 accelerated master's program. His research concentration is in material physics. Past recipient of the scholarship is Ms. Katherine Elizabeth Mitchell.


You may still make a contribution to the Physics Undergraduate Scholarships Marchini scholarship, the Woollett Scholarship.

50th Anniversary of the Department of Physics

Mr. Lewis O’Kelly was present when the University Of Memphis Department Of Physics was established, and he recently reminded us of our upcoming 50th anniversary. We will commemorate the milestone on 7/1 and host a celebration in fall.  More information will be sent soon.

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