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Oct. 10, 2018

MSU nets $1.1M in DOE grants

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded nearly $1.1 million in grants to four Michigan State University faculty members.

The four grants come from the DOE Offices of High Energy Physics, Fusion Energy Sciences, Nuclear Physics and Biological and Environmental Research, representing the breadth of research undertaken at MSU.

The first grant, awarded to Shiyou Ding, associate professor of plant biology, is for $500,000 to develop a new generation of real-time imaging and quantification of plant wall constituents, which will help biologists understand plant development and biomass deconstruction.

The technology can be made available immediately for the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, fellow DOE Bioenergy Research Centers and other research communities to foster collaborative study of different types of biomass and deconstruction processes, Ding said.

Yue Hao, associate professor of physics, will use a $300,000 grant to develop a six-dimensional analysis method to investigate dynamics in particle accelerators, and to guide the optimization of the parameters of nonlinear elements.

Under current methods, physicists can only use two- or four-dimensional analyses, limiting their applications. Hao’s research is a necessary step to apply a new method to understanding the nonlinear resonances and optimization in current accelerators – such as the Hadron Collider in Geneva or the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at MSU – as well as the design of future accelerators with periodic structures.

Michael Murillo, theoretical and computational physicist, received a $150,000 grant to explore the dynamics of energetic collisions between charged particles in fusion-class plasmas.

Murillo explained that the project will, in a sense, put ion and electron collisions into “slow motion” in a unique environment and allow for extremely precise measurements. The slow-motion measurements will be combined with detailed computer simulations that illuminate collision details in ways that have never been done before.

Jaideep Singh, physics and astronomy professor, will use his $125,000 grant to work toward observing an electric dipole moment, which is a measure of the separation of positive and negative electrical charges within a system.

Singh plans to increase the sensitivity of a certain isotope – Radium 225 – to achieve this observation, which might indicate that the laws of physics are not symmetric under time-reversal and may explain the scarcity of antimatter in the universe.

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