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Physics

Faculty & Staff

Nathanael Fortune
Associate Professor

email Send E-mail office Office: McConnell Hall 315 phone Phone: 585-3980

My pure physics research concerns the experimental behavior of lower-dimensional physical systems in extreme environments (such as high magnetic fields and low temperature). Examples are an usual form of magnetic-field induced superconductivity that can occur when electrons are confined to two dimensional planes and quantum-fluctuation induced phase transitions in a planar arrangement of frustrated magnetic spins. Smith students often travel with me to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory to carry out these measurements; we are also setting up a 3He cryostat/superconducting magnet system here at Smith.

In my more applied physics research, my students and I are measuring and modeling the energy performance of solar hot water and solar electric systems that we installed on the roof of the physics and astronomy building (McConnell Hall). As an added benefit, the system provides much of the hot water needed for the building! You can check out the real-time performance of the system by visiting our solar lab Web site and entering 'Smith' (with a capital S) as your username and password.

We have also designed and built a portable miniature solar house for research and course use. A number of Smith students are working on the design, construction, testing of various upgrades to this house and are modeling its energy performance.

Here's a news story about the course and a video of students assembling the solar house out on Burton lawn: “It's warm inside but nobody's home!” (4/24/2009)

In my course on Solar Energy and Sustainability (PHY100), students use these solar hot water and solar electric systems and our easily modified portable solar house to assess what their household's energy demands are, how they can be reduced, and what fraction of the remaining energy demand could be met by solar energy, as well as design and properly “size” a solar system to meet those needs.