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David S. Koltick

Professor of Physics

Director, Applied Physics Laboratory
Coordinator, Center for Sensing Science and Technology
Office: Physics 335
Telephone: (765) 494-5557
Fax: (765) 494-0706
Personal Homepage

B.S. in Physics, University of Michigan 1973
M.S. in Physics, University of Michigan 1975
Ph.D. in Physics, University of Michigan 1978

Research Interests

My research interests are to study the interactions of elementary particles in order to build a firm understanding of the fundamental forces of nature and to search for relationships between these forces. These experimental results will deepen and help to unify our understanding of the forces of nature.

Present Research

My present research efforts have been directed into several areas, including the overall responsibility of directing the research of Post Doctoral Fellows, Ph.D. students, Master Degree students, Honor Degree Undergraduate students and visiting scholars.

  • Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory
    As Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory it is my responsibility that the Laboratory accomplish it's goals.

    The goals of the laboratory are to use our deepest understanding of fundamental physics to find solutions to the complex problems that face our world today and will face our world in the future. APL wants to be a link between the advanced research and cutting-edge laboratory techniques and equipment at Purdue University and the needs of government, industry and science to solve real world problems.

    For students, APL has projects at all level of experience. APL typically engages Ascarelli Fellows and Beering Fellows starting in their freshman year at Purdue. Typically these students continue to work full time with the group through the summers and during the school year on a part-time basis.

    For graduate students, APL provides full support for those students wanting to complete a Ph.D. in Applied Physics. APL offers a wide range of projects from biophysics to nuclear physics to environmental contamination detection. Students are welcome to explore topics and ideas of their own interest as well.

    For the post-Ph.D. graduate, APL has excellent opportunities for a scientist to take responsibility for important research projects funded by DARPA, DTRA, DoD, DoE, NIH as well as commercial interests. Presentation of their results at the appropriate conference and in journals is encouraged. For companies interested in improving their technical approach or moving into a completely new technical area, APL can serve as a technology link helping to make the technology jump from research laboratory to commercialization. APL is the place where fundamental physics solutions are found for real world problems.
  • Non-Invasive Detection and Characterization of Heavy Metals in Ton Containers
    One of the fundamental doctrines of the Chemical Weapons Convention is the non-proliferation of chemical weapons and their precursors. Consequently, the U.S. has embarked upon destruction of its chemical agent stockpiles in support of non-proliferation. Several facilities in the U.S. are capable of destroying stockpiled agent using two common methods: incineration and chemical destruction. The purpose of this work is to assist the Army in developing a technique and facility that will allow for non-invasive determinations of mercury in chemical warfare agent in ton containers. The proposed work is intended to effectively solve the military's problem of determining which munitions containers housing agent are contaminated with mercury. Resolution of this problem will help the Army to meet the conditions outlined by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • Advanced Neutron Scanner with Imaging
    Development of a prototype package neutron scanning system with imaging to detect chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals in packages. The system is based on elemental analysis using neutron interrogation and detection of the excitation gamma ray energy in an array of HPGe detectors. The system uses an advanced signal strength imaging technique that can be overlaid onto an x-ray image in order to hence the ability of x-ray scanning to find threat materials. Major components of the system are a user-friendly interface with automated threat assessment.
  • Advanced Neutron Scanner for Small Objects
    Development of an advanced small object scanner with capability to identify chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals based on elemental analysis using neutron interrogation and detection of the excitation gamma ray energy in an array of high purity germanium detectors. The prototype is based on the use of a neutron generator, HPGe detectors, a user-friendly interface with automated threat assessment, an automated re-scan feature, and radiation shielding for use in public areas.
  • Advanced Neutron Generator Development
    Improvements to neutron interrogation can be made by enhancing the imaging ability of the package scanning system concept by the development of the next-generation neutron generator based on the Associated Particle Imaging (API) technique. The critical component of the associated particle neutron generator is a ZnO(Ga) scintillator-based alpha particle detector. The goal is to determine if the API technique is feasible for use in the imaging scanning system to enhance the performance of x-ray based scanning systems.
  • Neutron Lethality in Microorganisms
    Basic research to determine the neutron radiation lethality to microorganisms such as yeast, bacteria, and viruses. The goal of the work is to find the optimal neutron beam parameters, such as the neutron energy and flux for sterilization applications. All bio-materials shall are irradiated with multiple sources of radiation such as gamma radiation, and neutron radiation with of differing average energy.
  • Explosive Detection by Neutron is Small Objections
    Research and analysis of the ability neutron elemental analysis to differentiate explosive materials in a non-cluttered environment from a flow stream of common materials.
  • Low Energy Nuclear Reactions
    Most experimental results of low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) processes occurring in deuterated metals reported so far cannot be reproduced on demand. There have been persistent experimental results indicating that the LENR processes in condensed matters (LENRPCM) are surface phenomena rather than bulk phenomena. If the LENRPCM are surface phenomena, the proposed use of micro/nano scale porous materials may enhance and scale up the LENRPCM effects by many order of magnitude, and thus may lead to better reproductivity and theoretical understanding of the phenomena.

    A recently proposed Boson ground-state fusion (BGSF) mechanism may provide a suitable theoretical description of the surface phenomena, if many micro/nano scale high-density plasmas consisting of deuterons and electrons are created in micro/nano scale cavities in the surface region of deuterated metals. Based on the BGSF mechanism, we propose D + 6Li _ 24He (Q = 22.37 MeV) as an alternative explanation for 4He and excess power production observed in LENRPCM experiments. The BGSF mechanism is an alternative theoretical interpretation to widely speculated interpretation of the LENRPCM effects as bulk phenomenon involving a controversial and unconventional reaction D+D_ 4He + ~23.8 MeV (heat in lattice). The BGSF mechanism model may be also applicable to describe low-energy enhancement of the cross-section for D(d, p)3H reaction as observed recently from deuteron beam experiment with deuterated metal targets.

    New experiments are proposed for detecting nuclear emission from LENR processses involving both (D + D) and (D + Li) reactions in deuterated porous materials. We propose the use of micro- or nano-porous metals/alloys loaded with deutrium and lithium in LENRPCM experiments for the purpose of improving the reproducibility of nuclear emission. We propose to test the BGSF mechanism by measuring the temperaure dependence of LENRPCM events.
  • Explosives Detection in Vehicles and Cargo
    In this project, research is being conducted on a scanning system to rapidly scan cargo containers for IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) threat, radiological dispersal devices (RDDs), improvised nuclear devices (INDs) and special nuclear material (SNM). The system is being designed with both passive and active scanning capability. A key feature of our approach is to use Deuterium-Tritium neutron generators in a bridge structure that surrounds the sides of the container and produces penetrating mono-energetic 14.1 MeV neutrons. The generators have the capability to operate in multiple modes; (1) rampable flux (106 to 109n/sec) for deep penetration into higher density cargo, (2) continuous and (3) pulsed mode operation to focus on fast and thermal neutron induced gamma ray signals. We are also studying the use of an associated particle mode for background suppression, possible imaging and attribute estimation.

Past Experiments

  • Lepton Number Violation
  • Next Linear Collider-Japanese Linear Collider
  • Super-Conducting Super Collider
  • D-Zero
  • Tristan
  • Quark-Gluon Plasma
  • High Resolution Spectrometer

Published, over 130 scientific papers, 30 years teaching experience.

Graduate Students


  • Steven Z. Kane - Detection of Special Nuclear Materials Using Prompt Gamma-Rays from Fast and Slow Neutron-Induced Fission, 2010
  • Eric D. Sword - A Neutron Based Interrogation System to Detect Explosive Materials, 2009
  • Seth M. McConchie - Detection of Hazardous Materials in Vehicles Using Neutron Interrogation Techniques, 2007
  • Vladimir G. Solovyev - Differentiating of Classes of Materials Using Neutron Interrogation Techniques, 2005
  • Ilan Levine - Muon pair production by photon-photon annihilation: high order experimental tests of quantum electrodynamics. 1995.
  • Braden K. Abbott - Jet transverse energy shape in PP collisions at SQRT(S)=1.8 TeV. 1994.
  • Barry Lee Howell - A Study of Mu and Tau lepton pair production in electron-positron annihilation reactions at TRISTAN, 1992
  • Benjamin Glenn Bylsma - Tau decays to five and seven charged particles and the Tau Neutrino Mass. 1987.
  • K.K. Gan - Study of tau lepton production and decay in electron-position annihilations at 29 GeV, 1985.

Teaching Interests

| Physics 149 | Physics 152 | Physics 214 | Physics 218 | Physics 220 | Physics 219 | Physics 261 | Physics 270Y | Physics 271 | Physics 271L | Physics 310 | Physics 330 | Physics 344 | Physics 410 | Physics 411 | Physics 490 | Physics 550 | Physics 556 | Physics 564 | Physics 610 | Physics 699 |

Awards and Honors

  • Michigan Department of Education Scholarship
  • Frank Knoller Physics and Chemistry Fellowship
  • University of Michigan Fellowship

Professional Experience

  • Professor, Purdue University, 7/91 to present
  • Director, Applied Physics Laboratory, Purdue University, January, 2003-present
  • Project Coordinator, Integrated Detection of Hazardous Materials, 2000-present
  • Chairman, Advisory Panel, Center for Sensing Science and Technology, 2000-present
  • Board Member and Owner, 2K Corporation 2002-present
  • Director, Center for Scintillating Fiber Research 1991-95
  • Associate Professor, Purdue University, 1985-91
  • Assistant Professor, Purdue University, 1981-85
  • Research Associate, Indiana University, 1978-80

Professional and Scholarly Activities

  • The American Physical Society
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE
  • SPIE
  • The Division of Particles and Fields (APS)
  • Sigma Xi
  • Next Linear Collider, Detector Organizing Committee
  • International Advisory Board, NLC
  • The Fermilab User Organization
  • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Lawrence Berkeley
  • Laboratory User Organization, (Secretary-Treasurer 1982-83)
  • Superconducting Super Collider User Organization
  • Secretary, Institutional Board, Solenoidal Detector Collaboration


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