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Our Weather Depends on a Materials Science Problem
Materials Science and Engineering Seminar
Prof. Raymond A. Shaw
Department of Physics
Michigan Technological University
Abstract: Our lives here in the UP are largely shaped by snow – how we work, how we play, how we travel (or not), and so on. The standard view is that for a snow crystal to form under typical atmospheric conditions, a catalyst particle was needed to induce nucleation of ice either directly from the vapor or, more likely, from supercooled liquid water. In this seminar I will relate the story of how my students, colleagues, and I have tried to understand various aspects of this heterogeneous ice nucleation process. Along the way, we’ve gained insight into the roles of three-phase contact lines, electric fields, and pressure perturbations in ice nucleation. I will describe some of these highlights from the last 15 years of work, emphasizing our recent focus on mechanical agitation of supercooled water, and I will speculate about why we might question the ‘standard view’ described above. I’ll emphasize the importance of simple experiments and the indispensable role of serendipity in our discovery process.
Bio: Raymond Shaw is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics and director of the interdepartmental PhD program in Atmospheric Sciences at Michigan Technological University. His Ph.D. was received in 1998 from Penn State University, and his fields of study are cloud physics, atmospheric turbulence, and ice nucleation. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Advanced Study Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and he is the recipient of a NSF CAREER award and a NASA New Investigator Program award. His approximately 100 publications span journals in fluid mechanics, optics, and atmospheric science, including a review paper published in Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, papers in Science, PNAS, and PRL, and chapters in several published books. He spent the 2004-05 academic year on sabbatical leave at Cornell University and at the Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) in Leipzig, Germany, and again the 2007-08 year as a Humboldt Research Fellow at TROPOS. A 2015 sabbatical leave was spent at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self Organization, TROPOS, and Peking University. He is currently a member of the international scientific advisory board for TROPOS and a member of the AMS Cloud Physics Committee. He is part of the Pi Cloud Chamber collaboration at Michigan Tech.
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