In line with leading international institutes, the department of physics will lead Panjab University (PU) in starting a teaching assistant programme from the session 2018-19, wherein research scholars will act as a bridge between professors and students.
This was decided on Thursday during a meeting of the faculty members of the department to discuss plans for the new session as part of an initiative by the Director of Public Relations Office.
“They (teaching assistants) will help teachers instruct students and handle assignments and examination papers,” said Prof. Navdeep Goyal, Chairperson, department of physics.
Prof Goyal added that the department was equipped to run the programme as they have 150 PhD scholars who can assist each professor with the coursework. The department offers two integrated five-year honours school courses in physics and physics (electronics).
The major research areas include particle, nuclear and solid state physics, along with astrophysics. The department has been accorded the status of Centre of Advanced Studies by the University Grants Commission since 1988.
Over 20 research projects are being handled by the faculty that also produces the maximum papers each year in PU.
One of the major attractions of the department is the students’ exposure to the faculty that is associated with Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland and France.
“Our faculty and students are involved in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN. Mentors and students are working on the development of detectors for medical imaging to make facilities such as PET scan less expensive. Simulations of these detectors have shown positive results,” said Prof Vipin Bhatnagar who has been associated with the LHC at CERN since 2001.
The CMS is one of the two large particle physics detectors built on the LHC. It studies the properties of the Higgs boson particle discovered in July 2012. The department also organises a refresher course in experimental physics in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
“Innovation in new energy is a major thrust area. We’re working on non-conventional energy resources. For example, if we shift to electrical cars in future, energy consumption will increase five times. We can work on solar cells and increase their efficiency,” said Prof Goyal.
The department also has a unique facility of a water treatment plant through indigenously-developed ozonisers. Now, the ozonisers will be used for treating swimming pool water at the university where it will replace chlorination.
“This is one of the ways to use the basic nature of physics to promote development in society. Ozonisation is a more effective strategy to get clean water than reverse osmosis. Ozone is 30 times more soluble and dissolves after 20 minutes, acting as a strong disinfectant,” said Prof Devinder Mehta, adding that the process targeted microbial contamination that was more dangerous than chemical contamination.