A first course on contemporary physics by Dr Sabieh Anwar

Our freshmen (first year undergraduate) modern physics course at LUMS is offered to around three hundred students every year. I joyfully teach this course but this time, the challenge was immense. This I took upon myself. I wanted to introduce my students, of course most of them will never study physics again, to what happens in the modern physics laboratory. Some students had little background in physics or math and the course was definitely not meant to become a ‘physics for the poet’ or ‘physics for the president’ sail through. Rather I had to keep it rigorous, mathematically accurate and enticing enough to catch the average students’ attention, who are constantly derailed by the frivolities of social mediums, the bitter reality of taking a course in a subject that will be effortlessly shred away (physics does not continue thereafter) and the mental anarchy of grades and GPA’s. Nothing works in my favor here.

But those few students in class who constantly ask me about black holes, gravity, quantum computers, string theory, radiation, spacetime, many questions sparked by the timing of Stephen Hawking’s death, and I admit most questions I could not answer, instilled in me the desire to share with my students my own fascination about modern physics. Modern enough that it could be called contemporary! So my dealings in this course bear little similarities to a course that teaches “modern physics” as a vestige of some revolutionary defining experiments in the past performed about a century ago (Geiger and Marsden, Compton, J.J. Thomson and G.P. Thomson and Milikan’s photoelectric effect); rather it spans topics that are of interest to the modern mind and the modern practitioner. The easiest way for me to choose these topics were some recent Nobel Prizes in physics.

Now hopefully my students can walk away with a deep satisfaction that they could explain how quantum computers work, why lasers are coherent sources of radiation, what makes a laser similar to a Bose-Einstein condensate, how could you cool and trap atoms with the forces of radiation, how tunneling explains radioactivity, how “nano” is different from the “macro”, why “more is different”, how “confinement leads to quantization” and finally, how energy spreads to give us the laws of thermodynamics that can drive the universe. As always, I also tried to enliven the course with real in-class demonstrations. How refreshing it was for me personally to show levitating magnets, diffracting electrons from graphite, photons bending around razor blades and the valve action of semiconducting diodes!

 One of the biggest challenges was the absence of a textbook that spanned most of these contemporary movements in modern physics. But I made some effort in capturing these moments, blissful for me and I don’t know how much for my class, in the form of a video playlist of fifty-one hour-sized lectures on contemporary physics. Enjoy and do send me your feedback. I love to hear from you and how we could improve the experience in the future. The website that will help you navigate through this course is on


By Azeem Iqbal | Featured . News

Team member of Physlab, forms partnership between PSIE and IEOM

Azeem Iqbal, a team member of Physlab group, forms a partnership between Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IEOM) society based in Michigan, USA and his Pakistan Society of Industrial Engineers (PSIE) based in Lahore, Pakistan. The collaboration is a long-term relationship that is based on mutual cooperation in furthering the international collaboration to foster industrial engineering in Pakistan and to create opportunities for Pakistani industrial engineering students and professionals to be active participants in the global arena.

With more than 50 IEOM Professional Chapters and 30 Student Chapters around the World, IEOM Society promotes the field of Industrial Engineering (IE) and Operations Management (OM) worldwide. They provide opportunities to IE and OM professionals through yearly conferences/ seminars/workshops across the globe, and illustrative research publications to disseminate the earned knowledge and experience.

Azeem has also been assigned as a reviewer in many IEOM conferences and is an active participant in their activities. His research work on the “Application of six sigma to improve an energy conservation experiment” was also accepted at the “7th International Conference in Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, Rabat, Morocco, April 11-13, 2017.

We wish Azeem continues his work and achieves a lot of success in all his future endeavours.

By Azeem Iqbal | News

Article published in Applied Physics A Journal

Synthesis and properties of nickel-doped nanocrystalline barium hexaferrite ceramic materials

M-type barium hexaferrite ceramics have emerged as important materials both for technological and commercial applications. However, limited work has been reported regarding the investigation of nanocrystalline Ni-doped barium hexaferrites. In this study, nanocrystalline barium hexaferrite ceramics with the composition BaFe12−xNi x O19 (where x = 0, 0.3 and 0.5) were synthesized by sol–gel method and characterized using X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, vibrating sample magnetometer and precision impedance analyzer. All the synthesized samples had single magnetoplumbite phase having space group P63/mmc showing the successful substitution of Ni in BaFe12O19 without the formation of any impurity phase. Average grain size of undoped samples was around 120 nm which increased slightly with the addition of Ni. Saturation magnetization (Ms) and remnant magnetization (Mr) increased with the addition of Ni, however, coercivity (Hc) decreased with the increase in Ni from x = 0 to x = 0.5. Real and imaginary parts of permittivity decreased with the increasing frequency and increased with Ni content. Dielectric loss and conductivity showed slight variation with the increase in Ni concentration.

By Azeem Iqbal | News

Khwaja Fareed Post Graduate College visits Physlab

Prof. Naeem Akhtar and his team from Khwaja Fareed Post Graduate College, Rahim Yar Khan, visited Physlab on a two-day stay to seek opportunity in collaboration for the development of their experimental physics laboratory. 33

The visit involved engagement in piquant hands-on activities on some of the most interesting experiments developed in Physlab. They were also encouraged to be self-resourceful and to try to build their own experimental setups through use of low-cost modern technology such as smartphone and digital camera. They were given a quick overview of image processing, data acquisition and LabVIEW.

The team was also given a comprehensive tour of Physics labs which include Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM) and Magnetron Sputtering. They said the tour was illuminating and gave them an opportunity to see some modern technologies in the realms of experimental physics.

img_0468Physlab has also provided them troubleshooting and repair support for some of the damaged lab equipment. Our Senior Researcher Mr Muhammad Shafique has successfully restored their GM Tube, GM Counter, E/M Power Supply, E/M Tube, Free Fall Detector and E/M Ratio Power Supply.

Physlab has recently shared technology with another college affiliated with the University of Sargodha. An experiment to investigate band structure and electrical conductivity in semiconductors was shared with the college.

We hope to continue collaborating with other institutions across Pakistan for development of their experimental physics laboratories in the pursuit of our unwavering commitment to advancing quality physics education in Pakistan. 

By Azeem Iqbal | News

Dr. Sabieh Anwar at the 21st gathering of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences

Dr. Sabieh Anwar presented his ideas about experimental science in the Muslim world at the 21st gathering of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences. The meeting took place between 8 and 11 October 2017 in Konya, Turkey which is the final resting place of the celebrated poet Rumi.

Dr. Anwar presented interesting examples from history and traced the evolution of experiments and laboratories in the Muslim world. He emphasized the importance of developing tools and scientific instruments, cognate with theory and ideas. He presented an analysis of why many Islamic countries fall behind developing a culture that is amenable to the development of experimental science and practical knowledge. Laboratories are not just physical spaces, but also social hubs and have traditionally played an important, but often neglected role in the evolution of scientific knowledge and technology in the Muslim world. After the collapse of the post-colonial paradigm and the blossoming of a new international culture of science, a paradigm shift is required in how Muslim countries face the challenges of conducting meaningful science.
The Islamic World Academy of Sciences is an international academy that links up academies of science from the Islamic comity. The 21st conference was co-organized by the Turkish Academy of Sciences and Necmettin Erbakan University, Konya
By Azeem Iqbal | News

17-year-old passionate Pakistani physicist and his “Electric Honeycomb”

The Faculty at the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering considers that an active program in scientific outreach is vital for the educational progress of our society. In this vein, Physics Department’s Dr. Sabieh Anwar and his team at the Physlab, have been engaged in community outreach through one of the country’s largest science festivalsreaching out to schools infusing a never-ending quest for scientific inquisitiveness, conducting regional lab immersion programs and sharing physics experiments with Universities across Pakistan.
The Physlab were approached by the Pakistani organizers of the International Young Physics Talent Competition, considered the World Cup of Physics, for preparing and mentoring the Pakistani team comprising of students from around the country. Working with Dr. Sabieh Anwar and the Physlab staff comprising Azeem Iqbal, Umar Hasan, and Muhammad Rizwan, these students addressed ten original problems ranging from mind-baffling phenomena such as electric honeycombs, hot water geysers, rollers on rollers, magnetic trains, ultra-hydrophobic water, acoustic lenses and mechanical machines to generate random numbers! The coaching was completed during an intensive three-month long period where these five students were guided towards finding innovative and rigorous solutions to the assigned problems.
Shaheer’s work on the electric honeycomb involved building a structure that enabled the application of high voltages, constructing a housing with transparent conductive electrodes, and infrared imaging—techniques that our Physlab specializes in. We at LUMS are delighted that we could provide the physical environment and the intimate mentoring to young Pakistani students such as Shaheer Niazi and his teammates.
This was Pakistan’s first appearance in the international competition and we are expecting to support the Pakistani team again.
Media coverage:
By Azeem Iqbal | IYPT . News . Research Stories

Government MAO College visits Physlab

The government MAO college Lahore visited Physlab LUMS with thriving curiosity to experience the amazing world of Experimental Physics. Accompanied by their teacher Assistant Professor M. Faisal Waseem Rana, students were received by the Physlab team at the freshmen laboratory. The participants were briefed about the beginning of Physlab by Azeem Iqbal. He told how aiming towards capacity building not only helped create resources for the Physlab but also helped set an aim of creating a student driven experimental physics research laboratory in this part of the world. During the introduction Azeem glided the participants through various sections of the laboratory. Starting from the interactive class demonstrations and the various video documentaries Physlab has prepared over the past two years. It was presented that we share our work with sister institutions and help fellow Pakistani teachers learn about modern ways of teaching Physics through workshops, laboratory immersion programmes and Science Fairs (Lahore Science Mela 2017).

After the presentation Dr. Murtaza Saleem took participants on a guided tour of Physlab. The participants visited Mechanical Workshop, Optics & Solid State Laboratory,  Junior Lab, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM), Sputtering and 3D printing centre.

In the end, participants were encouraged to take active part in experimental physics and that they have a lot opportunities to pursue a great career by advancing in physics and that this tour was our part in igniting the passion for science and physics in them.

By Azeem Iqbal | News

BIOSENSORS: An opportunity for the future talk by Jean Louis MARTY

Jean Louis Marty from Universite de Perpignan, delivered an exciting talk on Biosensors. These sensors are analytical devices incorporating a biological material, or biomimic, intimately associated with or integrated within a physicochemical transducer or transducing microsystem. The main advantages of biosensors are short times of analysis, low cost of assays, portable equipment, real-time measurements, and use as remote devices. Dr. Louis shared that these new technologies have been applied in the quantitaforve analysis of target analytes.  The best example is the glucose biosensor for the control of sugar for diabetes.

After the talk, Dr. Louis was taken on a guided tour around the various laboratories housed in the Physics Department at the School of Science and Engineering building. He was delighted to see the kind of facilities and equipment LUMS is offering to its faculty and students and expressed good wishes for future endeavors.

By Azeem Iqbal | News
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