Applied Physics Institute

Applied Physics Institute (API)

API Mission: to conduct advanced research to solve real world problems, provide educational experiences to students, and advance the high tech development of the region. In close collaboration with companies and talented inventors, we bring innovations and novel technologies to market. We respond to the needs of the engineering and manufacturing community specializing in design and prototyping, commercializing innovation, and manufacturing technology. The mission of the API is to synchronize WKU applied research, engineering and manufacturing resources with industry needs.

Goals & Objectives

• To become the leading Small Business Accelerator in Kentucky.
• To provide all the resources necessary for development and commercialization of novel products to companies, scholars and inventors
• To become a center for professional preparation and training of a new class of scientist and engineers, capable of working at the industrial facilities of a new generation.
• To build an academy/industry pipeline, providing employment to WKU graduates.
• To contribute to the research and economic development of the state of Kentucky.

Capabilities & Services

The Applied Physics Institute (API) was established in 1994 at Western Kentucky University (WKU) as a nuclear research facility. API has about 15,000 sq. ft. of laboratory and office space at the WKU Center for Research and Development. In addition, a 10,000 sq. ft. outdoor facility is available which is licensed for the use of radioactive materials and radiation-producing machines. The API is licensed for radioactive material handling and research. Over the years, the research scope of the API evolved, and currently it is a multidisciplinary center performing research and development projects in Materials Science and Advanced Manufacturing, Environmental and Energy Technologies, Information Technology and Nanotechnology. API Research, Development and Commercialization Areas: Materials Science and Advanced Manufacturing, Renewable Energy Sources, Nanotechnology, Microfabrication and Microelectronics, Artificial Intelligence, Wireless Communication and Information Systems, Security and Defense, Novel Methods of Medical Diagnostics, Nuclear Physics and Engineering, Control Systems, Prototype Development, Smart Device Application Programming.

Funding

For API the last year was very productive in terms of bringing external funding, infrastructure development, involving new students in research and starting new projects. A KCF grant ($75,000), Phase II Commonwealth Energy award ($697,436) and Phase II award from Northeast Gas Association ($211,709) were awarded this year, totaling in $984,145. A substantial amount of advanced materials deposition and characterization equipment was donated to the Applied Physics Institute by Murray State University. Also, several materials synthesis and deposition facilities have been built at the API in the last year, including: Chemical Vapor Deposition System (CVD), Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD) and a Pick-and-Place station for automated assembly of electronic devices.

PEOPLE

Faculty

Staff

Our Students

Alexander Larin (Ph.D. candidate, Physics)
Seth Harper (Undergraduate Student, Physics)
Benjamin Thornberry (Undergraduate Student, Physics)
Michael Henley (Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering)
Benjamin Hennion (Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering)
Andrew Garmon (Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering)
Brody Bagshaw (Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering)
Anthony Ford (Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering)
Richard Pape (Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering)
Woosup Lim (Undergraduate Student, Electrical Engineering)

OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED

For Students 

With the fast development of nanoscience, nanoscale devices will completely replace microelectronics in the next few years. The transformation of nanoscience into nanotechnology will generate a great need of highly qualified industrial personnel specifically educated in this new area of technology. To be a scientist or engineer requires they have the practical ability to apply what they have learned in their lectures to real-world research problems. At API we train our students to think critically for themselves and to know what references, methods, and tools to use for real-world problem-solving. Besides learning important laboratory skills, they learn to work within an interdisciplinary team. Our senior students-researchers are all engaged as mentors to the juniors, involved in the laboratory work. This creates a win-win situation for everyone as they learn to be more effective communicators of science and engineering through collegial contact and interaction. Today, the API is more than just a WKU research center doing cutting edge research. It is a center for professional preparation and training of a new class of scientist and engineers, capable of working at the industrial facilities of a new generation. For our students, work at the API is also an interesting hobby. Applied sciences, robotics and prototyping are perfectly suitable for a predominantly undergraduate institution, like WKU, where many students are hobbyists, playing with robotic platforms in their spare time. Currently, the process is organized in such a way that the knowledge and experience of the previous generations of API students is transferred to the next generations, which helps to make learning and training faster from year to year. This way we were able to create some amazing devices with participation of several generations of undergraduate students, which can easily compete with the Ph.D. projects from research one universities. Our main goal is to educate our undergraduate students in the fast-evolving field of nanomaterials and to provide them with valuable skills that will prepare them for careers in industry and for graduate school. We put a lot of effort into creating a pipeline between WKU and the industrial sector for successful employment of our graduates. Today, we are proud to say that this pipeline is working. Our students start working with companies as a part of API grants and contracts. They have a chance to actively communicate with the industrial engineers during the field tests, build their professional network, and later get a job much easier than the students with a purely academic background. For WKU students, the perspective to be employed by a respected company immediately after the graduation is a strong driving force improving recruitment and retention.

For Faculty

For our faculty joining the API is not a formal matter: the new members are invited for their complementary areas of interdisciplinary expertise and ability to work in a team environment. This team works together, assisting each other in their research and exploring research topics outside of and among their own disciplines. Our goal for is to make our centers a permanent workplace for students and faculty, to provide all the necessary facilities for productive research. Currently, the API infrastructure undergoes further adjustment and development in order to create an efficient working environment for students and faculty and make it more welcoming for frequent visits by state officials and private sector representatives. The API has an extremely high potential in the research commercialization. Our goal is to create the appropriate infrastructure to unite talented scientists from different departments of Ogden College under one roof.

For the Community

Our goal is to focus our research on the areas of the highest impact in the state of Kentucky and nationwide, such as: advanced manufacturing, materials science and engineering, renewable energy sources, and security and defense.

Today, API collaborates with a variety of different companies,which gladly accept our students after the graduation. Besides that, API itself creates jobs for our graduates. Currently, we have two WKU graduates working at API as full-time employees. Our goal is in creating and sustaining the effective professional transition programs that allow our students to gain the necessary training, experience and build their professional networks with the potential future employers before graduation. This approach will ensure a smooth and painless transition from a college environment to a professional environment and will improve the overall recruitment and retention at WKU.

Know of a way this research center is making a difference? Let us know on the Submit Info tab.

FUNDED PROJECTS

Commonwealth Energy Contract PI: Dobrokhotov
Novel Methods of Thin Film Synthesis & Characterization
Start Date: October 2014 End Date: October 2019
Currently awarded: $ 1,102,436

Northeast Gas Association Contract PI: Dobrokhotov
Novel Integrated Nanosensors for Analysis of Chemical Compounds in Natural Gas Applications
Start Date: September 2013 End Date: September 2017
Total Award amount: $1,488,750
Currently awarded: $512,075

Kentucky Commercialization Fund Grant PI: Dobrokhotov
A Pocket-Size Analyzer for Detecting Microorganisms, Chemicals and Toxins in Foods
Start Date: January 2016 End Date: December 2016
Total Award amount: $75,000
Currently awarded: $75,000

Kentucky Commercialization Fund Grant PI: Dobrokhotov
Energy-Efficient Portable Unit for Real-Time Monitoring of Environmental Hazards and Physiological Characteristics of First Responders
Start Date: July 2014 End Date: June 2015
Total Award amount: $75,000
Currently awarded: $75,000

Halton Group Contract PI: Dobrokhotov
Development of an Intelligent Integrated Sensor for Detection of Gaseous Analytes for Commercial Kitchens
Start Date: July 2014 End Date: June 2015
Total Award amount: $17,500
Currently awarded: $17,500

Department of Defense PI: Dobrokhotov
Functionalized Nanospring-Mats for Detection of Explosives
Start Date: December 2009 End Date: September 2014
Total Award amount: $900,000
Currently awarded: $900,000

NASA EPSCoR PI: Dobrokhotov
Computational Modeling of Nanoscale Artificial Muscle Actuators
Start Date: December 2009 End Date: September 2014
Total Award amount: $37,364
Currently awarded: $37,364

EPSCoR PI: Dobrokhotov
Research Startup Funds for Assistant Professor of Physics
Start Date: June 2008 End Date: May 2011
Total Award amount: $75,000
Currently awarded: $75,000

PUBLICATIONS

Alexander Barzilov and Ivan Novikov, “Material Classification by Analysis of Prompt Photon Spectra Induced by 14-Mev Neutrons”, Physics Procedia, Volume 66, 2015, Pages 396-402

Ivan Novikov and Yuly Shabelski, “Complete Glauber calculations of reaction and interaction cross sections for light-ion collisions”, Physics of Atomic Nuclei, Volume 78, 8, 2015, Pages 951-955

Alexander Barzilov, Jessica Hartman, and Ivan Novikov, “Remote Sensing of Neutron and Gamma Radiation using Aerial Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle”, in 2015 IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference, San Diego, CA, October 31 – November 7, 2015

M. Khenner and M. Bandegi, “Electromigration-driven evolution of the surface morphology and composition for a bi-component solid film”, Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena 10(4), 83-96 (2015) (Journal issue on Modeling Phenomena on Micro- and Nanoscale, Ed. Alexander A. Nepomnyashchy, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology).

M. Khenner, “Step growth and meandering in a precursor-mediated epitaxy with anisotropic attachment kinetics and terrace diffusion”, Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena 10(4), 97-110 (2015) (Journal issue on Modeling Phenomena on Micro- and Nanoscale, Ed. Alexander A. Nepomnyashchy, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology).

Wingo, A., Cinar, S., Woods, K., Khenner, M. “Mathematical modeling of a surface morphological instability of a thin monocrystal film in a strong electric field” (accepted for publication in Nanotechnology)

M. Khenner, Mathematical model of electromigration-driven evolution of the surface morphology and composition for a bi-component solid film, 39th SIAM Southeast-Atlantic Section Conference (Birmingham, AL, March 20-22, 2015).

B-A. F. Kengne, S. Karmakar, M. Kaura, G. Corti, V. V. R. Sai, I. B. Niraula, A. Larin, J. Hall, D. Sowell, P. J. Hrdlicka, V. Dobrokhotov and D. N. McIlroy. Self-assembled monolayers of thiols adsorbed on Au/ZnO-functionalized silica nanosprings: Photoelectron spectroscopy-analysis and detection of vaporized explosives, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 6 (16) 13355–13366 (2014).

Pavel V. Bakharev, Vladimir V. Dobrokhotov and David N. McIlroy, A Method for Integrating ZnO Coated Nanosprings into a Low Cost Redox-Based Chemical Sensor and Catalytic Tool for Determining Gas Phase Reaction Kinetics, Chemosensors 2 56-68 (2014).

Vladimir Dobrokhotov, Alexander Larin and Dewayne Sowell, Vapor Trace Recognition Using a Single Nonspecific Chemiresistor, Sensors 13 9016-9028 (2013).

Vladimir Dobrokhotov, Landon Oakes, Dewayne Sowell, Alexander Larin, Alex Kengne, Pavel Bakharev, Giancarlo Corti, Timothy Cantrell, Tej Prakash, Joseph Williams and D. N. McIlroy, ZnO Coated Nanospring-Based Chemiresistors, Journal of Applied Physics 111 044311 (2012).

Vladimir Dobrokhotov, Landon Oakes, Dewayne Sowell, Alexander Larin, Alex Kengne, Pavel Bakharev, Giancarlo Corti, Timothy Cantrell, Tej Prakash, Joseph Williams and D. N. McIlroy, Towards the Nanospring-Based Artificial Olfactory System for Trace-Detection of Flammable and Explosive Vapors, Sensors and Actuators B 168 138– 148 (2012).

Vladimir Dobrokhotov, Landon Oakes, Dewayne Sowell, Alexander Larin, Alex Kengne, Pavel Bakharev, Giancarlo Corti, Timothy Cantrell, Tej Prakash, Joseph Williams and D. N. McIlroy, Thermal and Optical Activation Mechanisms of the Nanospring-Based Chemiresistors, Sensors 12 5608-5622 (2012).

For more information about the Applied Physics Institute (API), visit https://www.wku.edu/api/

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