october 11, 2002

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Photo Dr. Baha Jassemnejad
Dr. Baha Jassemnejad, UCO physics and engineering professor is helping NASA to revolutionize “nanotechnology.

UCO Professor Selected by NASA for Cutting Edge Research

University of Central Oklahoma physics and engineering professor Baha Jessemnejad is doing his part to help U.S. space explorers to go where they have never gone before.

This summer, Jassemnejad participated in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Faculty Fellowship Program at the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Jassemnejad’s NASA assignment was to design an experiment to be performed using optical tweezers for interrogation and manipulation of nano-devices.

Translation: Design tweezers from a laser beam that are capable of holding the tiniest of particles so that they can be put together to build the tiniest of machines and materials.

“When I first saw my assignment I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know how to do that!’” Jassemnejad said.

He described the laser tweezers as something similar to the fictional Star Trek “tractor beam.”

“The laser light can trap atoms without actual physical contact, “ he said. “Then we can manipulate atoms and put them in any order we want to create new materials and devices.”

Not only did Jassemnejad figure out an experiment to test the laser tweezers, he created a new invention, as well.
While at NASA, Jassemnejad created a way to manipulate the laser tweezers by remote control through a means that has not been possible in the past.

According to his NASA Disclosure of Invention and New Technology, Jassemnejad was able to generate two sets of laser tweezers, one of which can be remotely controlled as a “probe” beam.

“It was very exciting when I discovered that my idea worked, “ Jassemnejad said. “This is a very challenging field based on a very small aspect, and I am hoping this invention will help in our research.”

Very small aspect is a very large understatement.

At NASA, Jassemnejad was able to trap and work with particles of about 900 “nanometers” in size, which is equal to approximately one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair. One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter.
NASA’s goal, Jassemnejad said, is to create materials and devices on the atomic and subatomic level to revolutionize the operation and performance of power and propulsion systems.

“To make those systems stronger, lighter and cheaper,” he said.

However, that’s not where the benefit of this research ends.

“The sky is the limit when it comes to how this knowledge could be applied,” Jassemnejad said.

Material processing, physical science and biological experiments, microgravity research, the study of colloids and nanotechnolgy are but a few ways it may be used, Jassemnejad said.

However, he is particularly interested in its application to medical research.“This technology may be especially helpful in developing new procedures in biomedical engineering. It could help save lives.”

In a letter of acceptance from the NASA Faculty Fellowship Program, Jessemnejad was told that he was chosen from among many highly qualified applicants “because of his experience, research interest and teaching responsibilities.”
UCO is excited and proud to be part of Jassemnejad’s accomplishments.

“Dr. Jassemnejad has brought genuine distinction to himself, his department and college as well as the university,” said UCO Provost Don Betz. “Baha's long-standing dedication to the growth and success of our students means that he shares the excitement and significance of his work with them in his classes.”

Jassemnejad has already been invited to maintain collaboration with NASA researchers and to return the Glenn Research Center next summer.

“NASA is very supportive of the faculty fellowship program,” Jassemnejad said. “It is a win-win deal. Faculty members are exposed to new knowledge and bring it back to the university, and NASA benefits from new ideas and experience of the faculty.”

Jassemnejad also hopes to be able to take at least one student with him when he returns to NASA next summer.

“When you go out and play with cutting-edge technology and you come back home and tell the story to your students, you look at those students and think, ‘Hey, you could be the next one to really make a difference.’”

Contact: Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director (405) 974-2315