Renowned Palestinian physicist delivers lecture on nanotechnology at BZU

Munir Nayfeh, a renowned Palestinian atomic physicist and Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, delivered a lecture at Birzeit University on September 25, 2017. The talk, titled “Nanotechnology: Theoretical aspects and applications,” highlighted new frontiers in the practical application of nanotechnology that are changing the world.

In the lecture, Nayfeh presented his breakthrough imprints in nanotechnology, which is the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.

The physicist has developed the detection and writing of single atoms on surfaces, by drawing one of the smallest pieces of graffiti in the world in the form of “heart-P”. Nayfeh made silicon glow by dispersing it into ultra-bright nanoparticles. These nanoparticles create a platform for diverse applications ranging from cancer treatment and diabetes monitoring to the increased efficiency of light bulbs and solar panels.

The winner of the Industrial Research IR 100 prize pointed to the practical and valuable usages of nanotechnology in our daily lives, and with diverse applications from agriculture to early detection and treatment of acute diseases, such as cancer or cacogenic disease. 

Prior to the meeting, Nayfeh met with the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Birzeit University, Dr. Hanna Nasir, Acting President Dr. Faisal Awadallah, Assistant to the President Aziz Shawabkeh, the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Dr. Khalid Swaileh, and the Head of the Department of Physics, Isma'el Badran. He discussed the prospects of conducting joint research in physics with the BZU faculty and students.

Born in Palestine in 1945, Nayfeh earned his BS and MS at the American University of Beirut and his PhD in physics at Stanford University in 1974.  Nayfeh is now a Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the founder, President, and Chief Technical Officer of NanoSi Advanced Technology, Inc.

Following his arrival at the UIUC, Professor Nayfeh developed an active experimental program to study the multi-photon (nonlinear) dissociation of molecules as a means to enhance dissociation selectivity. He was the first to demonstrate isotope separation using this process. He was also the first physicist to examine the behavior of hydrogen molecules in intense laser fields, and his seminal work in this area initiated a whole new area of research in molecular Coulomb explosions.

In the past few years, Professor Nayfeh has pursued two separate lines of research: a theoretical program focusing on the role of classical chaotic dynamics in hydrogen atoms rendered essentially one-dimensional in the presence of very strong dc electrical fields; and  an experimental program he has termed "writing with atoms," in which the spatial selectivity of the electric field in a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) is combined with the frequency (energy) selectivity of a laser to deposit fine patterns with nearly atomic resolution on a variety of substrates at room temperature. Dr. Nayfeh was solely responsible for the conception and development of this innovative technique.