News & Highlights



  • In June 2019, Figures a-i Bharti articleNature Communications published an open access article by J. G. Lee, B. Bharti, W. A. Shelton, et al. “Directed Propulsion of Spherical Particles Along Three-Dimensional Helical Trajectories” discusses the propulsion of synthetic objects on a microscale and provides a new physical principle of designing next-generation microbots. Their study is a step towards designing new autonomous microscale vehicles, which can perform complex functions necessary for advanced biomedical procedures, including non-invasive surgery. See the LSU College of Engineering press release


  • ORNL Highlight--DormanOn January 23, 2019, Oak Ridge National Laboratory highlighted LaCNS research in "Radio frequency energy heats up interest in low-temperature nanocatalysts." Dr. James Dorman and Natalia da Silva Moura observed experiment results using neutron-based vibrational spectroscopy at the VISION beamline located at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source. “We want to significantly reduce energy consumption and increase catalytic reaction efficiencies by isolating heat generation to the location of the molecule, instead of heating entire reactors to extremely high temperatures,” said Dr. Dorman. “One of our biggest challenges is to control the process of synthesizing nanoparticles and optimizing their morphology at the same time,” added Natalia da Silva Moura, a graduate student in Dorman’s group at LSU. “The neutron data enables us to see how each shape interacts with our target molecules and then improve the design to maximize the efficiency of the localized heating and reactions.” 
  • Soft Matter coverSoft Matter selected artwork submitted by Dr. Bhuvnesh Bharti for its January 2019 inside cover art. The accompanying article is titled "pH-Induced reorientation of cytochrome c on silica nanoparticles" by J. Meissner, Y. Wu, J. Jestin, W. A. Shelton, G. H. Findenegg, and B. Bharti, Soft Matter, 2019,15, 350-354. The orientation of cytochrome c molecules at the surface of silica nanoparticles was studied in a wide pH range by combining small-angle neutron scattering, adsorption measurements, and molecular dynamics simulations. The results indicate a reorientation of the ellipsoidal protein from head-on to side-on as the pH is increased. This is attributed to changes in the surface charge distribution of both the protein and the nanoparticles.


  • Ramakanta ChapaiRamakanta Chapai received a DCMP Honorable Mention Travel Award for the 2019 March American Physical Society Meeting in Boston. The DCMP Graduate Student Travel Awards were established to assist the professional development and careers of graduate student researchers and are presented through the APS Division of Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP). The selection process was very competitive, with over 120 applicants. Recipients will be announced and receive certificates at the DMP/DCMP reception at the 2019 March APS Meeting.
  • LaCNS graduate student Rasangi Perera and undergraduate YeRim Noh spent the month of August 2018 working with Dr. Kunlun Hong (ORNL Senior R&D staff member) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory--Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. Their research involved synthesis of novel materials for neutron scattering experiments. Perera and Noh also attended the CNMS user meeting on August 13-15.

YeRim Noh, Rasangi Perera, and Dr. Hong at ORNL CNMS user meeting


  • Dispersant article thumbnail"Study Assesses a New Class of Safer, More Effective Dispersants" highlights research by Vijay John, Olasehinde Owoseni, and Marzhana Omarova in collaboration with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. The researchers used small angle neutron scattering to study the microstructure of a new gel-like formulation that could be used as a buoyant gel dispersant for oil spill remediation. “Delivery of the gel dispersant as pods avoids the use of propylene glycol and the generation of volatile solvents in the atmosphere through aerial or boat-based spraying and is, therefore, far safer on first responders and oil spill treatment personnel," explained John. 
  •  Judith De MelRasangi Perera, Karin Bichler, and Bruno Jakobi received NIST travel awards to perform experiments at the National Institute of Standards & Technology in Gaithersburg, MD. They will be traveling during June and July 2018. All four are students of Gerald Schneider in the LaCNS Soft Matter experimental program. 
  • Madalynn Marshall photoMadalynn Marshall received a scholarship to attend the NIST Center for Neutron Research 2018 Summer School in Gaithersburg, MD. The twenty-fourth annual Center for High Resolution Neutron Scattering (CHRNS) "Summer School on Methods and Applications of Small Angle Neutron Scattering and Neutron Reflectivity" will be held from Tuesday, June 19 to Saturday, June 23, 2018. Madalynn is a student of Weiwei Xie in the LSU Department of Chemistry and the LaCNS Soft Matter experimental program.


  • Weyl semimetalOn February 19, 2018, Oak Ridge National Laboratory highlighted research by Qiang Zhang, Alan Tennant, Huibo Cao and others in an online article "Neutrons Reveal the Wild Weyl World of Semimetals." Zhang noted that "Weyl semimetals are rare, and most of them are nonmagnetic. We found one that is magnetic. If we can better understand the electronic behaviors we found in this material, it could significantly speed up computer and smart phone technologies."


  • Dhital photoDr. Chetan Dhital received a Post-Doctoral Travel Award for the 2018 March APS meeting from the American Physical Society's Division of Materials Physics (DMP). These awards are presented and funded through the APS DMP through a very competitive process, and the committee felt privileged to learn of the tremendous contributions from so many post-doctoral researchers. Recipients will be announced and receive certificates at the DMP/DCMP reception at the 2018 March APS meeting in Los Angeles.


  • Plummer accepts Chinese AwardOn January 8, 2018, China’s President Jinping Xi presented the 2017 International Science and Technology Cooperation Award of the People’s Republic of China to Professor Earl Ward Plummer, a faculty member in the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy. Plummer was one of seven people to receive this award for his contribution to the development of science and technology in China. Press release



Jin, Karna and Chapai at NHMFL


  • Plummer photoOn Friday December 8, 2017, the LSU Board of Supervisors awarded Professor Ward Plummer the rank of Boyd Professor. The Boyd Professorship is the highest professorial rank awarded by the LSU System and is given only to professors who have attained national or international distinction for outstanding teaching and research. Physics Department news



  • MnSi imageThe U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science published a research highlight on "Chemical 'Pressure' Tuning Magnetic Properties." This research by Dhital, Khan,  Saghayezhian, Phelan, Young, Jin, and DiTusa showed the dramatic dependence of the magnetic state on the size of the crystal lattice and points out the opportunity for exploring the origins of anti-symmetric interactions through a combination of experiment, neutron scattering, and electronic structure calculation. DOE Research Highlight


  • Nesterov photoEvgueni Nesterov's research on organic polymer thin films was featured in LSU's The Daily Reveille on November 8, 2017, and its online counterpart The article discussed Nesterov's work on synthesizing solar cells that could increase the quality of light-emitting devices and potentially revolutionize the electronics industry. The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences division highlighted this research in an October 2017 press release.
  • Nature Materials imageLaCNS researchers published their findings of a new magnet with nearly massless charge carriers in Nature Materials (online) in July 2017. Led by Professor Zhiqiang Mao, researchers at Tulane University and LSU, in collaboration with scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Tallahassee and Los Alamos, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered a new magnet with nearly massless charge carriers. This observation of topological behavior, where charge-carrying electrons behave as if they have no mass, suggests that it may be an example of the long sought-after Weyl semimetal caused by time-reversal symmetry breaking. The recent discoveries of topological materials — a new class of relativistic quantum materials — hold great promise for use in energy saving electronics. DOE Research Highlight




  • Donghui Zhang's research group at LSU received approval in summer 2017 for two beam time experiments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

    • Investigation of Effect of Sequence-Defined Charges on Solution Structure of Ionic Peptoid Amphiphiles in the Semi-Dilute Solution was awarded 3 days of beam time at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source facility.
    • The proposal Synthesis of Deuterated Sub-monomers towards Selectively Deuterated Sequence Defined Peptoid Block Copolymers was approved for 21 days of instrument time at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL.


  • Z Mao awardCongratulations to Dr. Zhiqiang Mao for receiving Tulane University's Outstanding Researcher Award. Tulane presented the award to Dr. Mao, the Nicholas J. Altiero Professor in the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, at the 11th annual School of Science and Engineering (SSE) Research Day on April 6, 2017. Tulane University news


  • PeterChunwa Peter Kei received the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) award on March 21, 2017. This award is in recognition of Kei’s outstanding academic accomplishments and the merit of his research proposal, and reflects his potential to advance in his PhD studies and make important contributions to the mission of the DOE Office of Science. The award will cover costs associated with the proposed SCGSR research project, “Core-shell Nanostructures Prepared by Controlled Chain-growth Polymerization: Investigation of the Formation Mechanism”, to be conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in summer 2017.

  • Dr. Donghui Zhang received a 2017 Rainmakers Award for Research and Creative Activity from the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development (ORED). Rainmakers are faculty members who balance their teaching and research responsibilities while extending the impact of their work to the world beyond academia. Dr. Zhang received the Mid-Career Scholar Award in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. 




  • Zhang Dr. Donghui Zhang received a three-year grant of $598,679 from the National Science Foundation for her proposal on “Investigating the Structural Coupling of Main Chain and Sidechain Packing in the Solution Structures of Amphiphilic Coil-Comb Block Copolymers with Crystallizable Sidechains.”




  • VijayDr. Vijay John was awarded a three-year grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative for “The Design of Synergistic Dispersant and Herding Systems using Tubular Clay Structures and Gel Phase Materials.”




  • Zhang, JiandiDr. Jiandi Zhang received a three-year grant of $448,000 from the National Science Foundation for his proposal on “Investigation of Interface Structure-Property Relationship of Transition-Metal Oxides by in-situ Materials Growth with Atomic Precision.”



  • LaCNS graduate students Peter Kei and Mojammel Khan were selected and attended the 18th National School on Neutron and X-Ray Scattering (held July 30 – August 13, 2016 at ANL and ORNL, website).

  • LaCNS students were highlighted on the March 2016 ORNL neutron sciences web page.
photo: ORNL spotlight Youm and Chatterjee

Sang Gil Youm and Sourav Chatterjee adjusting a sample during their experiment at the Liquids Reflectometer instrument.


  • Dr. Zhiqiang Mao’s group at Tulane ran an experiment on Ir-doped ruthenates with HB1A (triple-axis spectroscopy) at ORNL on March 10-17, 2016, in collaboration with Ke at MSU. They completed inelastic neutron scattering measurements on Fe-doped Sr2RuO4 in January 2016. They also recently collaborated with Pengchen Dai's group in neutron scattering measurements on iron chalcogenide superconductors under pressure (beamline HB1). They also have a few other planned experiments which will use their samples in spring 2016.

  • Dr. Mao is also collaborating with Collin Broholm at Johns Hopkins. He has a planned polarized neutron scattering experiment (MACS) at NIST from April 27 to May 5-7, 2016. This experiment will focus on magnetic excitation measurements on optimally doped iron chalcogenide superconductors. 

  • U.S. Department of Energy awards LaCNS a $4.9M Statewide Research Grant. LaCNS researchers will use the equipment and facilities and collaborate with the scientific staff at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee, where they will run their experiments.

    Please click the links below to see more information about the DoE Research Grant:
    LSU Media Release
    Baton Rouge Business Report article
    The Times-Picayune article

  • Prof. Evgueni Nesterov visited Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, where he presented a seminar describing the LaCNS efforts to create a neutron scattering center in Louisiana. He also met with ILL director, Dr. William Stirling, and ILL scientists, and discussed possibilities for mutual collaborations between Louisiana and ILL scientists in the areas of using neutron scattering to study soft materials systems.

 Funding Proposals

  • Members of Dr. Donghui Zhang's group at LSU, postdoctoral researcher Dr. Xin Li and graduate student Garrett Sternhagen, traveled to Oak Ridge, TN, March 20-21, 2016, to perform a small angle neutron scattering experiment to study the transition between cyclic and linear polymer structures as a function of degree of polymerization.

  • Dr. Li and graduate student Sourav Chatterjee traveled to Oak Ridge again on March 29-April 1, 2016, to perform the experiment Structural Investigation on Light Harvesting Multi-Responsive Fluorescent Conjugated Polymer Hybrid Core-Shell Nanoparticles in Solution.

  • Dr. Jiandi Zhang’s proposal of Investigation of Spin Dynamics in the E-type Antiferromagnetic Ground State of Mn-doped Sr3Ru2O7 has been approved for 1 day of beam time at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

  • Dr. John DiTusa was competitively awarded beam time at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for two of his projects, HB-2A at HFIR: Exploring the Newly Discovered Magnetic Order in non-centrosymmetric Ru1-xCoxGe and Exploration of the Effect of Pressure on the Spin Density Wave State of Fe3Ga4

  • Yuri Lvov’s proposal of Localization of macromolecule loading in clay nanotubes (inside or outside) has been awarded 1 days of beam time on instrument BL-6 EQ-SANS at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

  • The Molecular Foundation has approved a proposal by Donghui Zhang, Using Sequence Defined Peptoid Amphiphiles to Investigate the Effect of Charge-Charge Interactions on Micellar Structures. Garrett Sternhagen in Donghui Zhang’s group will prepare a series of sequence-specific peptoid amphiphiles using automated synthesizer at the Foundry facility. These molecules will serve as model systems in the study of charge-charge interactions in the micellar assemblies of peptoid amphiphiles in solution. The structure and dynamic of the assemblies will be investigated by elastic and inelastic neutron scattering. These studies in conjunction with computational modeling will provide insights into how the charge placement and density in space influence the structure and dynamics of mesoscale assemblies.

Awards & Honors

  • Sourav Chatterjee (far left in the middle row) was awarded an Excellence in Polymer Graduate Research award at the Polymer Graduate Research Symposium in Denver, CO.

photo: chatterjee was awarded an Excellence in Polymer Graduate Research award

  • On October 11, 2014, Ward Plummer was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. John Adams, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots founded the academy in 1780 during the American Revolution. The ceremony was held at the Sanders Theatre, Harvard.    

photo: plummer at american academy

  • Jiandi Zhang and Zhiqiang Mao Selected as APS Fellow
    LaCNS is pleased to congratulate Dr. Jiandi Zhang of LSU and Dr. Zhiqiang Mao of Tulane, who were elected as Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS). Fellowship in the APS is extremely prestigious, being limited to no more than one half of one percent of the APS membership. William P. Reinhardt, APS Director of Honors Programs, stated that Dr. Zhang was selected “for his significant contributions to elucidating the correlation between bulk and surface static and dynamic properties of complex materials,” and that Dr. Mao was selected “for contributions to the understanding of magnetism and superconductivity in iron-based superconductors and correlated electron states in ruthenates.” Drs. Zhang and Mao will be presented with their Fellowship certificates at the next APS annual meeting

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