The Cooperative Phenomena Group consists of three full-time professors, three part-time professors, several Post-Doc students, and about ten master and PhD students. An office manager and two part-time engineers complete the staff. The group occupies seven research labs, a seminar room, and about 200 m2 office space. In addition, the university provides considerable computer facilities, services of a workshop, and an efficient library.
The research labs and offices are located in the Physics building on the university campus.
Preparation of a two-dimensional porous model in one of the flow labs.
In many of the experiments performed in the Cooperative Phenomena Group, optical observation is a basic source of information. For this reason, photographic and electronic imaging of experimental structures is a central issue in our experimental designs. Equipped with two high-resolution CCD cameras, the CCD lab is used to digitize pictures of experimental structures with a definition of up to 2000*3000 pixels and 256 gray levels. The cameras can be mounted on heavy-duty tripods and, for special purposes, moved to other labs. A 35 mm color-CCD camera is used to monitor experiments at lower resolution. Several workstations are dedicated to camera control and image processing.
Interrupting work in one of the flow labs.
Two of the laboratories are reserved for fluid flow experiments. Research is currently focused on macroscopic flow processes that can, in principle, be observed with the naked eye. Two-dimensional porous models of a size up to 50*80 cm are used routinely, and three-dimensional models with a volume of up to 20~l were constructed.
Computer work is essential in today's research.
The flow labs are fully equipped with tools and materials required to realize a large variety of experimental set-ups. Technical support from the department's workshop is provided. The laboratory facilities include a range of different pumps, illuminated stands, and a number of cameras. Several PCs are dedicated to control photographic cameras monitoring the development of experiments. Digitized pictures of observed structures are analyzed using state-of-the-art commercial lab software and in-house developed software. Several different microscopes, including one operating with UV light and an atomic force microscope (AFM), are located in two labs dedicated to biophysics research. In addition to the standard equipment of a physics laboratory, heat chambers and fridges are provided to prepare and store biological samples. In one of the labs, an experimental table is mounted on shock-absorbing pillars to enable high-precision measurements to Ångstrom scale. A number of PCs and amplifiers are used to pick up weak signals and analyze the data.
Research in biophysics heavily relies on electronic equipment.
The two computer labs are equipped with about a dozen workstations and terminals running UNIX. The machines are linked to a fast internal network that establishes connections to the machines in the laboratories and to the outside world. The equipment is completed by a number of printers, including a high-quality color printer, scanners, a magneto-optical disc station, and a library of reference manuals. Code used to simulate physical processes and to carry out data analysis is mainly written in FORTRAN, C, and C++. The group disposes of considerable video facilities that include several video recorders, cameras, and monitors. Some of the recorders are capable of time-lapsed recording, a feature that proved to be extremely useful to study processes that take place over hours or days. The video data can be processed by means of a mixing console. Screen shots of computer simulations can be stored digitally on a laser videodisc recorder and recorded on video tape at later stages.
A view into one of the computer labs.