Nanophase optics scientist joins WSU Spokane

SPOKANE — A leading researcher and business entrepreneur is joining the faculty at Washington State University Spokane as part of the extension of WSU’s internationally recognized Institute for Shock Physics.

Hergen Eilers will lead nanophase enhanced optical research, the first of the laboratory’s focus areas to be housed at WSU Spokane.

The holder of seven patents, Eilers brings both a scientific track record and a business background. Currently the president of NovaCera, he has also worked with Gemfire Corp. and was a co-founder of Quantum Vision, all California companies.

He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications. With other scientists, he has obtained more than $4.6 million in funding for his work, both in federal grants and in private investments. Eilers received a doctorate in physics from the University of Hamburg in Germany. He also holds a master’s of business administration degree and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics.

Last month, university officials joined with Rep. George Nethercutt to announce the creation of the Applied Sciences Laboratory, a multidisciplinary contract research enterprise within the Institute of Shock Physics.

The institute, established with support from the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, is a multidisciplinary research organization that conducts fundamental research in shock-wave and high-pressure compression of matter. The scientific activities involve understanding physical and chemical changes in solids and liquids under very large and rapid compression.

The Applied Sciences Laboratory will emphasize scientific and technical activities at WSU’s Riverpoint campus that are different from, but build upon, the fundamental research of the ISP. The new laboratory in Spokane, as a multidisciplinary contract research organization, will undertake a broad range of applied research activities of interest to federal government agencies and private corporations.

The laboratory’s initial work will focus on three main areas within the broader scope of research conducted at the ISP:

Nanophase enhanced optical devices: Tiny particles at the near-atomic size have interesting optical properties that in the future might enhance the resolution of X-ray pictures and allow the creation of super-strong windows or flexible information displays.

· Unconventional energetic materials: Metal-polymer systems that are safer than conventional explosives are expected to have significant payoff for the Navy’s next generation missiles and advanced ordnance systems.

Pulsed power facility for materials science applications: A laboratory facility will be developed to use magnetic pressure to test the strength and response of new materials under shock compression.

The laboratory’s research in unconventional energetic materials will be carried out in collaboration with the Navy Laboratory in Dahlgren, Va. Development of the pulsed power facility will involve interactions with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. Work in these areas will move to the WSU Spokane campus as additional facilities become available.

Related Web sites:

Institute for Shock Physics:

News release on Institute for Shock Physics building dedication, Aug. 27, 2003:

News release on establishment of the Applied Sciences Laboratory, Jan. 30, 2004:

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