UNLV Department of Physics and Astronomy

Facilities and Shops

Atomic Hydrogen Beam Facility Optical coating thin film facility
Tau Cluster Material Preparation and Synthesis Facility
Pulsed Tunable Dye Laser Facility Student Electronic Shop
Ion Beam Facility Ion Trap Facility
H2 Cluster Physical Properties Measurement System
Nonlinear optical spectroscopy facility Professional Glass Shop
Professional Electronic Shop Raman Scattering Facility for High Pressure Research
Reflection Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry Facility Ruby Fluorimeter Facility for High Pressure Research
Dynamic Laser Light Scattering Facility Professional Machine Shop
High Resolution Laser Spectroscopy Facility Student Machine Shop
16-inch Photometric Telescope Diamond Anvil Cell/X-ray Diffraction Facility for high pressure research
Cosmology Computing Cluster

Atomic Hydrogen Beam Facility

This atomic hydrogen beam facility consists of an rf discharged cell, a differential pumping system, and a host of beam density monitors inside an ultrahigh vacuum system. The density of the hydrogen beam is about 10-8 Torr. Atomic hydrogen is created by a rf discharge and are guided and transported by a Teflon tubing to a specific location, such as an ion trap, to study the state select electron capture process.


Optical coating thin film facility

Thin solid films for optical and electronic applications are deposited from the vapor phase inside the stainless steel bell jar vacuum chamber. The material to be deposited is either evaporated from an electrically heated container, or sputtered from a target by argon ion impact in a RF excited plasma. The pumps for evacuating the chamber are below the bell jar, and the evaporation and sputtering power supplies and controls are in the cabinet beside the vacuum system.


Tau Cluster

The tau cluster (part of which is shown), consisting of 23 fast CPUs with individual memories, is networked to perform isolated or concurrent computation. The cluster is used to carry out path-integral and variational/diffusion quantum Monte Carlo studies of various novel materials, including hydrogen molecules in a host matrix, light elemental solids under high pressure, and quantum many-body systems, such as quantum dots, boson clusters, and helium-4 in a porous host material. These studies are aimed to answer fundamental questions, such as which material is the best for a hydrogen storage unit, what happens at high pressure to light elemental solids, or how coherence and correlation manifest themselves in an interacting quantum system in generating unusual quantum phases such as a supersolid.


Material Preparation and Synthesis Facility

The glove box shown here is used for maintaining an inert atmosphere for various polymeric samples, as well as preparation of other samples throughout the department. Since the materials studied here are hydroscopic, the samples must be kept extremely dry during preparation, storage, and during experimentation. The system shown here provides an environment inside the glove box which has a water content below 10ppm which is accomplished by implementing a nitrogen gas atmosphere, along with a molecular sieve to trap remaining water molecules. Inside the glove box is a collection of sample preparation equipment, temperature regulation devices, equipment to monitor sample characteristics, as well as the ability to make viscometry measurements without exposing the samples to the environment.


Pulsed Tunable Dye Laser Facility

This facility consists of two pulsed Lambada Physik Excimer lasers which drive three separate tunable dye lasers. The band width of each dye laser is about 1 MHZ. These dye lasers are synchronized by an optical delay with time resolution of a few nanoseconds. Fast optical detectors are used to synchronize a series of events. This facility ahs been used to study the expansion dynamics of laser induced plasmas.


Student Electronic Shop

Found in this shop are multiple stations with soldering irons, power supplies, function generators, oscilloscopes, and various other test equipment. Many analog and digital IC's are stocked for breadboarding circuits. Facilities exist to make printed circuit boards for low noise and high speed designs. There is an electrical engineer on staff to answer questions and to design custom equipment as needed.


Ion Beam Facility

John Farley's laboratory has a laser beam/ion beam spectrometer. In this instrument, a laser bam is used to measure the absorption spectrum of molecular ions. Measuring the spectrum of an ion is like taking the fingerprint of the ion: it allows identification of the ion. Furthermore, the spectrum reveals the energy levels of the ion, the spacing of the atoms, and the strength of the chemical bonds. Molecular ions are important in the upper atmosphere (ionosphere), in molecular clouds in the interstellar medium and also in industrial plasmas such as those used to make computer chips.


Ion Trap Facility

This ions storage facility is primarily designed and fabricated in house. The key component of this facility is a radio frequency ion trap with cylindrical electrode and two flat end caps. The ion trap is operated inside a stainless steel ultra high vacuum chamber that routinely maintains a vacuum well below 10-10 Torr by a Varian turbo molecular pump in combination with a Leybold mechanical pump. Ions are produced by laser ablation of solid target material. Nearly all low charged state ions can be produced, cooled and stored in the rf trap. This facility is currently used to store multiply charged ions that are of interest to astrophysics and fusion plasmas. Studies of these ions include the metastable state lifetime of multiply charged ions, electron capture by multiply charged ions, and dynamics of molecular formation at low temperatures.


H2 Cluster

The H2-cluster is purchased from a grant from US Department of Energy to support research on Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Storage Technology project at UNLV. The purpose of the research project is to develop a fundamental understanding of interaction of atomic and molecular hydrogen with materials pertinent to the storage and use of hydrogen, thus enabling improved conceptual development, design and testing of storage options, fuel cells, and hydrogen combustion applications.

The project emphasizes fundamental research at the atomic and molecular levels to understand the mechanisms of hydrogen adsorption/desorption from potential storage materials, catalysis of hydrogen adsorption and dissociation on platinum surfaces (fuel cell applications) and rate co-efficient for atomic and molecular hydrogen interactions in both thermal and non-thermal populations (hydrogen combustion applications).

The cluster is made up of 19 nodes each of which has 2 dual-core Opteron processors, 16GB of RAM and 2 fast SCSI hard drives. They are networked using gigabit ethernet. The cluster is used by faculty in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physics.


Physical Properties Measurement System (PPMS)

The PPMS is a multi purpose system to determine the thermodynamic properties of materials. When making new materials, it is imperative to characterize the samples, and determining the thermodynamic properties is often the first step. The PPMS can be used to measure specific heat, AC/DC magnetization and AC/DC electric transport. All of these measurements are performed in the cryostat at the left of the picture (with the yellow warning label) which contains a superconducting magnet immersed in liquid helium at 4 K. All measurements can be performed in applied magnetic fields as large as 9 T and temperature as low as 0.35 K. The other equipment shown is the various electronics required for the measurements and the computer for automated control of the experiments.


Nonlinear optical spectroscopy facility

This facility is being used to study the photochromic bacterial protein bacteriorhodopsin. A photochemical material changes color when it absorbs light. In this experiment, lasers at one or more selected light wavelengths illuminate the sample and measure the resulting changes in the state of the sample. The photochromism in bacteriorhodopin is interesting for optical signal processing applications since it is fast, reversible and can be modulated by changing temperature and other experimental conditions.


Professional Glass Shop

In the foreground is a glass working lathe and in the background is a glass annealing oven. The glass shop is also equipped with glass blowing torches and tools, glass tubing and rod, diamond saws and drills, a grinding and polishing machine, and a clean air bench.


Professional Electronic Shop

The College of Science has a technician on staff to assist faculty and students. If needed, the technician can trouble-shoot equipment in the lab if the equipment can't be brought to the shop. Many common parts are stocked to speed repair services. The technician is also available to explain how equipment functions and help in the selection of new equipment.


Raman Scattering Facility for High Pressure Research

Study of materials at high pressure is accomplished using this custom Raman spectrometer. Samples are illuminated using any of the characteristic lines produced by a Spectra Physics 2060-8S BeamLok argon ion CW laser. Light scattered by the sample is collected and focused into a Jobin-Yvon-Spex (JY) Ramanor U-1000 double monochromator (1 m focal length with two 1800 lines/mm holographically ruled gratings). The resulting wavelength dispersed light can then be analyzed by a liquid nitrogen cooled JY Spectrum 1 down-looking CCD camera (256x1024 pixels) or by a water/thermoelectrically cooled Hamamatsu R943-02 head-on photomultiplier tube.


Reflection Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry Facility

This mass spectrometer is designed and fabricated in house. Multiply charged ions are produced by a pulsed Nd YAG laser. These laser produced ions are initially accelerated by an electric field into a field-free drift tube where ions of the same q/m bundle in space. The spatial spread of the ions, due to the initial plasma temperature, is significantly reduced by reflecting the ions 174 degrees into a field free reflection drift tube. Our recent study includes the charge transfer of carbon monoxide to highly stripped oxygen and carbon ions. These studies are essential to the understanding of X-ray emission in cometary atmospheres.


Ruby Fluorimeter Facility for High Pressure Research

This instrument indirectly measures pressure by measuring changes in the fluorescence spectra of ruby crystals. The excitation source is a 404 nm CW diode laser. Excitation light is brought to the sample via a series of beam splitters, mirrors and multimode optical fiber (to facilitate future remote use). Sample alignment and location is accomplished through the use of a white-light source, a Panasonic video camera and a custom built Newport three dimensional remotely controlled translational platform. Ruby emission is collected, filtered and analyzed using a second multimode optical fiber connected to a 0.75 m Acton 750i single monochromateor equipped with a 1200 lines/mm grating and a Princeton Instruments 5 stage thermoelectrically cooled CCD camera (512x2048 pixels).


Dynamic Laser Light Scattering Facility

Shown here is one of the many large frame continuous wavelength ion lasers used throughout the department. Specifically, this model is a Kr-Ion laser manufactured by Coherent, resting on an air cushioned optical grade table. The optical table separates the system from external vibrations, which proves to be necessary when conducting measurements that are extremely sensitive to external motions of any sort. Also shown (front right) is a goniometer manufactured by Brookhaven Inc. used to conduct various laser light scattering techniques. The primary function of the goniometer manufactured by Brookhaven Inc. used to conduct various laser light scattering techniques. The primary function of the goniometer allows experiments in photon correlation spectroscopy (PCS) to be conducted. This equipment not only houses the sample cell and proves excellent temperature control, but allows the user to select precise scattering angels for measurement which are essential when performing these PCS measurements. These measurements provide information as to the size, shaper and overall dynamics of macromolecules both in and out of solutions. Also shown (back right) is a laminar flow clean bench which provides a dust free environment to work in. This bench is used for a wide variety of tasks which range from preparation and cleaning of the various optics used in the laboratory, to sample preparation.


Professional Machine shop

The Physics Research and Development Shop provide daily support in the following disciplines. Solid modeling engineering design (SolidWorks CAD); fabrication of state-of-the art prototype parts and equipment; supervise and instruct undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the conceptualization, engineering design, and fabrication of experimental devices, apparatus, and equipment to be used in research. Modify, troubleshoot, repair, calibrate and maintain equipment, devices and apparatus (e.g. vacuum systems, lasers, optical devices, telescopes) used in research as well as in instructional laboratories and demonstrations. This work is an integral part of a team of physicists engaged in the following research. High pressure Science and Engineering Center (HiPSEC), design and fabricate apparatus that are used to build up the spectroscopic, x-ray diffraction, and diamond-anvil cell capabilities and machine small intricate parts. Condensed Matter Laboratory. Non-linear Optics Laboratory. Ion Storage Facility. Macromolecular Systems Laboratory. Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory. Welding Area There are two welding areas; one in the R&D Shop and the other in the Student Machine Shop. Students that wish hands on experience in welding processes are advised to be trained in the Student Shop before welding occurs on actual parts.


High Resolution Laser Spectroscopy Facility

The Farley laboratory has a visible ring dye laser. This intense source of narrowband tunable radiation has enabled exquisitely sensitive experiments that would have been impossible otherwise. The dye laser has a frequency that is defined to a precision of parts per billion. The Farley laboratory used this apparatus to make the first measurement of the visible absorption spectrum of the H2O + ion, the water cation.


Student Machine Shop

Students are encouraged to utilize the Student Machine Shop (after proper instruction) to machine and assemble parts related to their research project.


16-inch Photometric Telescope

This is a 16-inch computer-operated photometric training telescope mounted on the roof of the Bigelow Physics Building with computer workstations dedicated to digital processing of astronomical images. The department is part of the NASA Nevada Space Grant Consortium and a four-college consortium that operates an automated telescope on Mt. Hopkins, near Tucson, Arizona. UNLV researchers have observing time on major telescopes such as Kitt Peak National Observatory. They also have direct access to data from the Hubble Space Telescope.


Diamond Anvil Cell/X-ray Diffraction Facility for high pressure research

Pictured here is a High Pressure 2-axis diffractometer. Inside the radiation enclosure are the Rigaku UltraX-18kW x-ray diffraction techniques are to obtain lattice structures from both single crystal and powder samples. The entire system is computer automated to allow for precise timed exposures and for rapid data reduction/analysis.

Pictured here is a Merrill-Vassett diamond anvil cell mounted on top of a multi-axis goniometer head. These cells have the capability of bringing powder and single crystal samples to pressures upward of 100Kbar. Theses high pressures are attained by applying torque to three symmetrically placed screws on the face of the cell. Diamonds having culet diameter of about 250 micron are mounted in the cell in a symmetric fashion to compress gasketed samples to a desired pressure. Images of a samples' lattice structure at high pressure allows for the study of where different phase transitions occur.


Cosmology Computing Cluster

The Cosmology Computing Cluster consists of 4 nodes, each of which has 4 cores (Opteron 2.4 GHz), 8GB of memory, and 750 GB of storage disk (total 16 processors, 32 GB of memory, and 3TB of disks). It is used by Prof. Nagamine's group to simulate large-scale structure of the universe and galaxy formation processes using cosmological hydrodynamic codes. Simulations start from early universe (redshift z~100) with initial conditions that are consistent with the observations of cosmic microwave background radiation, and follow the time evolution of matter (both dark matter and gas) distribution until the present time using the laws of gravity and hydrodynamics. The box sizes range from 10 mega parsecs to 1 giga parsecs, and particle numbers up to (256)^3. For larger sized simulations, resources at national supercomputer centers are used. One of the primary focuses of current research is the feedback effects of supernovae and black holes on galaxy formation and damped Lyman-alpha systems. For visualization products from simulations, see here.