Research Facilities and Physical Resources

Fully staffed machine and electronics shops are among the research resources available to students. Within the department, a cluster of approximately 50 Sun Microsystems and Linux work stations has been installed. Through the cluster, students and faculty access computing resources (such as an IBM Power 7) through LSU's Computing Services. The Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) also has its offices in the department. LaSPACE is an organization that promotes and develops space and aerospace research, education and information throughout the state of Louisiana by conducting a National Space Grant College and Fellowship program.

Center for Computation & Technology

The Center for Computation & Technology, or CCT, is an interdisciplinary research center located on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. Many researchers in the Physics Department, including graduate students and postdocs, are also affiliated with the CCT. The CCT is an innovative research environment, advancing computational sciences, technologies and the disciplines they touch. Researchers at CCT use the advanced cyberinfrastructure –high-speed networks, high-performance computing, advanced data storage and analysis and hardware and software development – available on campus to enable research in many different fields. In addition, the CCT maintains experimental clusters, including heterogeneous (GPU) and multicore, which help LSU researchers graduate their calculations to the next generation architectures. By uniting researchers from diverse disciplines, ideas and expertise are disseminated across LSU departments to foster knowledge and invention.

Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD)

LSU is one of only five universities in the country that operate a synchrotron radiation facility. The J. Bennett Johnston, Sr., Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD) is a 1.5 GeV electron storage ring producing a broad spectrum of X-rays that are used for research ranging from fundamental physics and chemistry of materials to the engineering of new micro-electrical mechanical systems such as micromotors. Half of the facility is devoted to materials analysis, where experiments such as high-resolution photoemission, EXAFS, microprobe, and microtomography studies are used to unravel the fundamental structure of materials. The rest of CAMD is devoted to the development of new methods to micromachine fundamentally new devices, including microvalves, miniature electrophoresis systems, and systems that can take advantage of the high-aspect ratios available using synchrotron radiation. The $25 million facility is used by faculty and students from LSU and guest scientists from throughout the world.

BREC-LSU-BRAS Highland Road Park Observatory

The BREC-LSU-BRAS Highland Road Park Observatory is a remote-control astronomical observatory located approximately 10 miles from the LSU campus. It is a joint venture between the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Baton Rouge Astronomical Society (BRAS), and the Recreation and Park Commission of East Baton Rouge (BREC). The observatory comprises a 2,300-square-foot facility, housing a 20-inch diameter Ritchey-Chretien telescope, a back-thinned CCD camera, an automated computer-control system, and an Internet T1 link. LSU is developing software that will enable LSU astronomy classes and K-12 classes throughout Louisiana to use the telescope through the Internet. The telescope is used for classes and student research projects. More than 50 asteroids have been discovered at the observatory. These investigations have also shown that the HRPO can see objects as faint as 20th magnitude with relatively short exposures.

Allegro & LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)

The centerpiece of current gravitational-wave search activities is the ALLEGRO detector (A Louisiana Low Temperature Experimental Gravitational Radiation Observatory), housed in the basement of Nicholson Hall, and constructed and developed entirely at LSU. It is a two-ton bar-shaped antenna made of aluminum alloy, cooled to 4 Kelvin, and instrumented with a super-conducting inductive transducer and a SQUID amplifier. It has often been the world's most sensitive and reliable observing instrument during the last five years.

An exciting new development is the selection of Louisiana as one of two sites for a national laboratory devoted to detecting gravitational waves. The 2.5 x 2.5 mile Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) is located in Livingston Parish, 30 miles east of Baton Rouge. We are playing an important role in the utilization of this national facility, which is about to go online.

Medical Physics Facilities

The Nuclear Science Building serves primarily as a laboratory research and teaching facility. In addition, it gives housing to the LSU campus Radiation Safety Office. Available facilities for medical physics graduate studies include high-resolution semiconductor detectors for gamma spectroscopy, both solid and liquid scintillation systems for radiation measurements, a gas flow proportional counter for alpha and beta emitters, an auto-gamma detector for counting environmental and biological samples, and a wide variety of radiation survey instruments and dosimeters for health physics work. An isotope ratio mass-spectrometer is used for stable isotope tracer studies, and laboratories are available for medical imaging research, radiation detector development, radioisotope tracer and radiochemistry applications, and aerosol dispersion studies. Several intense sources of cobalt-60 are used for gamma irradiation, while neutron physics experiments are performed in a subcritical uranium assembly and a californium neutron activation facility. In addition to on-campus facilities, students specializing in medical physics have access to several electron linear accelerators and other equipment used for cancer therapy at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center as well as the PET center at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center (OLOL). The LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center also has extensive laboratories for biological research. The medical physics and health physics program has an extensive collection of software and nuclear data libraries for radiation transport and dose calculations and for reactor physics and shielding analysis.

The Nuclear Sciences Building houses:

  • Six research laboratories equipped with fume hoods, sinks, counters, storage space.  All are all acid-proof and are rated for radiochemistry, radiobiology, nano-sized aerosol, and generic radiation research.  The aerosol laboratory houses a 1.8x1.5x0.6 m3 environmental chamber equipped with a real-time laser multi-channel aerosol spectrometer and nano-particle nebulizer. This lab supports experimental and computational study of how aerosols transport in confined spaces.
  • Multiple irradiation facilities (high-intensity radio-isotopic source irradiators having a maximum dose rate of 5000 R/min include): self-contained Co-60 irradiator, pool-type Co-60 irradiator, and Eberline Cs-137 calibrator/irradiator. Neutron facilities include: a subcritical assembly for neutron physics experiments and Cf-252 sources (total isotope mass of about 60 micro-grams) stored in two separate neutron irradiators (scalar thermal neutron flux of about 5E6 n/cm2/s).
  • Multiple radiation detection systems: HPGe detectors, NaI(Tl) detectors, a Si(Li) detector, liquid scintillation detector, etc.  Counting laboratories maintain a cross-calibration schedule with the State of Louisiana Radiation Laboratory under the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, using NIST traceable standards.

University Libraries

LSU Libraries are among the top research libraries in the nation. The main collection is housed in the Troy H. Middleton Library, with special collections housed in Hill Memorial Library. Among the library's holdings are a number of unique and prestigious collections on Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi Valley. A campus-wide computer network (LOLA) allows access to the library catalog from residence halls, classrooms, and laboratories.

  • Department of Physics and Astronomy library
  • Medical physics library in Program Office and at Cancer Center
  • LSU University Libraries

Additional Resources

  • Particle Astrophysics/Space Science: emulsion developing, scanning, and digitized measuring machines, detector development laboratory.
  • Nuclear: isotope separator and spectroscopy laboratory (at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory).
  • High Energy: drift-chamber and calorimeter construction facilities.
  • Condensed Matter: Crystal growth including floating zone optical furnaces, thin film fabrication including laser MBE facilities, STM/AFM, and optical and transport measurement facilities.
  • Low Temperature-General Relativity: high vacuum electron-beam melting apparatus, superconducting microcircuitry construction facilities.
  • Astronomy/Astrophysics: full astronomical library, all major star charts, 20-inch telescope and CCD camera/spectograph.

In addition to its on-site facilities, the LSU Department of Physics and Astronomy also draws on the resources of national and international laboratories and observatories.