Hi, my name is Anthony Ciani. I have recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the National Research Council's Research Associateship Program, performing research in the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. That project was to use computational models to study the development of dislocation networks in strained heteroepitaxial layers, as well as a means to reduce the concentrations of those dislocations reaching the operational areas of semiconductor devices. My doctorate is in physics, and my work has primarily been in the area of condensed matter physics, which intersects the fields of physics, chemistry, and materials science.
My current area of research interest is dislocations, particularly those found in the strained epitaxial layers used for semiconductor fabrication. I am using a computational model called discrete dislocation dynamics to perform these studies. Presently, I have modified the ParaDiS code to enable calculations of dislocations in strained epilayers, as well as superlattice structures (multiple layers), and have added FCC and HCP slip systems to the code.
Dislocations are an important subject area because many semiconductor device technologies utilize structural components made of different materials. These different materials will have incompatible crystal lattice constants, and possibly even different lattice types. The result of growing a material of one lattice constant on another material with a different lattice constant is stress, and a large amount of it. The stresses in a heteroepitaxial layer can be 100's or even 1000's of MPa. This is 1,000 to 10,000 atmospheres, pressures encountered at the greatest depths of the oceans or even beneath the crust of the Earth. To relieve this pressure the epilayer (and sometimes the substrate) form dislocations, which are essentially areas where one part of the crystal has slipped past another part. The motion of the dislocations displaces material through the crystal, rearranging it to relieve the stress. While dislocations are necessary to relax the system, they leave behind fissures which can be electrically active, and/or act as diffusion pathways for defects.
My past research has involved the use of ab-initio density functional theory to probe the properties of nano-structures and point defects in bulk semiconductors. Ab-initio means: "from the beginning". These DFT programs calculate the electronic wave functions of arbitrary structures by solving the most basic physical equations (e.g. Poisson equation, Hamiltonian). The programs only needs to be told where the atomic nuclei are, what type they are, how many electrons they have, and perhaps the temperature. The program that I generally use to do this is called VASP. Once the wavefunctions and total energies are obtained, a wide range of physical properties can be elucidated. I have studied Si nanowires, the adsorption of earth alkali metals (Ba, Mg, Ca, Be) on the Si(001) surface, native defects in HgCdTe, group I-B dopants (Au, Ag, Cu) in HgCdTe, and the interaction of cholesterol with carbon nanotubes.
Although I only ever had one course in C++, computer science made up an overly huge part of my work. I made the Linux plunge in 2000, and have not looked back (except for a handful of games which used that evil Direct-X). It is amazing what you can do when you have a user environment which is inherently designed around programming. The demands of the job almost necessitate it. A physicist using Windows is like a Ferrari using the engine from a Smart car. Of course, I have had a long time interest in computers (since before kindergarten), and I took my computer enthusiasm with me into physics. Considering that computers were first created by physicists to solve complex problems, this makes a lot of sense. During my graduate studies, I often modified the programs of others and wrote my own tools. FORTRAN, C, C++, Java, Python, Perl, Lua, it doesn't matter to me, I have worked in them all.
My greatest computer science achievement was the construction of the Wolfgang multi-computer. A multi-computer is a group of separate computers which operate as a single machine. The first such system, using multiple computers running an open source operating system and connected through an ethernet network was called Beowulf, constructed in 1994. The impetus to construct Wolfgang (in 2003) was the abysmal state of the computer resources available to the computational physicists at UIC. Either work had to be performed using precious time on large mainframe machines, or on the University's poorly maintained system. There was no resource to quickly perform the small and medium scale calculations needed for unfunded projects or do the preliminary work to obtain funding. Recognizing the clear advantages of the Opteron processor for scientific computing, I attempted to find a vendor manufacturing Opteron-based multi-computers, and couldn't. Everyone was using the Intel Xeon processors. I was going to have to build my own, and so I did, modifying whatever codes I needed to get the job done.
I also did some projects that were parts of the undergrad and graduate classes I took. You can find those here.
I have several peer reviewed publications:
And I have coauthored one conference paper:
While doing my undergrad I used to work on the weekends at Builder's Square, until it went belly-up. I shouldn't say "belly-up" though; it and its creditors were sucked dry by an investment vampire. The store I worked at was quite profitable, even with two competitors sitting a few blocks away. That was basically my entire weekend life for about 5 years. Now I can do whatever I want with my time.
A hobby which has taken a back burner in recent years is anime. Japanese animation was (and in many ways still is) at a considerably greater level of artistic expression than what is found in most occidental countries. It really is better than most animation produced for American TV and theater. Well, except for maybe the Simpsons and South Park. Anyway, you don't have to be a little kid to like it. In fact, a lot of anime is produced for the older audience, and frequently contains themes which would go right over the heads of youngsters, or shouldn't been seen by them at all. I know many people who enjoy anime and I hope you find some to watch if you haven't seen any before (and unbeknown to you, you probably already have seen some). In recent years, Hollywood has also taken to making live action versions of popular Japanese works. Then again, Hollywood pretty much has to. The wide spread use of narcotic drugs amongst its writers has resulted in a reduced intellect and imagination, plunging the industry into a doldrum of recycling past or foreign hits. I used to attend the meetings of The Animatrix Network, but slid out of the practice. Animatrix is a club for people that like anime, obviously. The meetings consist of watching the latest anime from Japan, and discussing significant events in the art. There is also a fair amount of overlap with science fiction in general. I have also worked as a member of staff at Anime Central, an anime convention held in the Chicago area.
While computers are involved in work, they are also a hobby. I generally write programs to aid me in my study of physics and in my conquest of various games (which become much more interesting when you cheat). I also do graphics design for my own personal benefit. Sometimes the results of such work end up in my web page. I use programs on both Windows and Linux systems, although I much prefer Linux. I write and maintain my own web page. Some of you may think it seems a little drab, but I know that everyone out there can see it (unlike some corporate web sites, which require the most modern version of Internet Extorter). I wrote up an interesting page about irregularities in the display of HTML, the language of the web. And, for those of you who find webpages that never quite work, as I like to say, "JAVA is for drinking, HTML is for writing web pages." Nowadays it seems people like to use Flash to "write webpages".
I used to spend some time on an online MMORPG (massively multi-player
on-line role playing game) called
Ragnarok Online. This game
uses mixed 2D and 3D graphics, which I really like. It has the look of
the traditional "god's eye view" RPG from the console days,
with the character moving around a map fighting monsters. In RO, the
map and visual effects are actually 3D textures. Battles take place in
real time, and the monsters and other players are also sprites on
the map; no "surprise" battles with switching between map and battle
views. You can learn more
about the dynamics and equations of the game at
IRO Wiki, and
Doddler's RO page. The iRO
version of the game was recently
upgraded ruined with poorly
thought, brand new battle and game mechanics.
The original version of the game developed game play and balance issues as the development team changed, and updates were added without proper regression testing or analysis. The problems were generally minor, and could have been corrected with subtle changes to monster stats, skills and bug fixes, but the development team fixed bugs by neutering character skills and removing those parts of the game play, and addressed balance by adding more imbalance. Eventually, they took a sledge hammer to it all, and made an entirely new game that maintened only the sprites, scripts, and look and feel. The stats and mechanics were all changed. As demonstrated by their uncanny ability to ruin game play and introduce massive imbalance, the "Renewal" had considerably worse game play and imbalance than the last version of the original game. Combined with incompetent systems management and poorly thought game master arranged activities, participation dropped.
I have been spending a little time revisiting console-based RPGs from the past. Unfortunately, it is a genre which has been underestimated by the game companies, even into today, and many good titles were never ported to the American market. Also, interference on the part of the console makers (yes, the console manufacturers get to decide on what games can be made for their consoles, and what those games may contain) led to massive delays in US RPG development, while at the same time making those games slightly less enjoyable. For example, in the Japanese market, some of the game events could be based on a running joke about the size (or lack thereof) of the heroine's chest, but for the US market, the console maker (not the developer) would object to such content in the beta, and all of the events and script surrounding it would need to be rewritten. An RPG requires good fights AND a good script, so the outcome was somewhat predictable. Not to forget the delays and associated costs.
A statistical analysis of genetic sequences from two separate bigfoot samples has been published on-line by Richard Stubstad. The mtDNA sequencing was hired work, performed by DNA Diagnostics. Mr. Stubstad reports that the sequences of bigfoot mtDNA he analyzed were consistent with each other, despite significant geographic separation, and different, non-collaborating collectors. He also reports that the sequences are 100% human, with some unseen polymorphisms, indicating a human-bigfoot split about 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, in Europe. Additional info can be read in the Bigfoot Evidence Blog. While nuDNA sequencing was ordered, the results have not been delivered, and will presumably appear in the below mentioned study.
There is a genetic study of bigfoot wrapping up, in conjuction with a rumored documentary project. The study intends to publish a peer reviewed paper identifying the phylogenetic nexus for bigfoots, and the documentary claims to have HD video of bigfoots in and out of cover, of unknown quality. From the latest information, it seems the paper was submitted in late July, 2011.
November 27, 2012. Some news has leaked from the study. The paper should be out in 1 to 2 weeks. The mtDNA has been identified as a human origin, approximately 15,000 years divergent. Bigfoots are modern humans, at least on the mother's side. The y-chromosome has an unknown origin. More specifically, the species and geographic origin of the y-chromosome is unknown. Here is the interview with David Paulides.
The genetic study has collected samples from across the country. Known sample providers are:
The documentary, "The Erickson Project: Sasquatch the Quest", is rumored to have video so good there will be no doubt. Rumors are that the documentary might air on a major science or natural history cable network. One person connected to the project has strongly suggested that Mr. Erickson intends a direct-to-video release, only. I personally hope they are wrong, because that is a good way to bury it (judging from past DtV projects).
A more recent hobby is researching bigfoot. Yes, researching bigfoot. While most people snort and think it silly, they are simply ignorant of the woods and wild lands, as well as ancient (and not so ancient) mythologies. The story of bigfoot is far more complicated than 'some guy starting that in the 50's with fake footprints'. And it certainly didn't end with 'that guy' admitting to it on his death bed. Bigfoot (and reportedly similar creatures) have been seen in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia for eons. The creatures (plural) are very stealthy, but not entirely elusive. This stealth seems to be a behavioral choice to avoid humans and catch prey, but sometimes the search for food or curiosity exceeds prudence.
Bigfoots (bigfeet?), and possible evidence of them are found throughout the United States, except Hawaii. The greatest problem concerning searches for bigfoot animal sign is that pretty much everything a bigfoot might do can also be done by humans. Of course, a human is not going to push over or break a 5 inch thick tree with his bare hands, but nothing says a person couldn't have used a tool. In other words, human activity can mask bigfoot activity, everything except a (fresh) corpse. For example, the raiding of chicken coups and rabbit hutches is frequently attributed to vagrants and teenagers; except when reports of bigfoots flare up in an area, and the police actually put some effort into investigating the crimes. At those times, the police peg the real culprit: a large, barefoot 'human', with fallen arches, a 7 to 9 foot stature, and the strength to break 2x4's as though they were tooth picks. So I spend quite a bit of time in the woods looking for odd things, and I find odd things. Most are just natural happenstance, while some must have been done by the hand of something, possibly humans, but for an unknown reason. Of course, the things aren't just found in the deep woods. There are plenty of incidents of them raiding dumpsters. The common M.O. seems to be that they follow forested waterways and streams, popping out of them to raid human settlements of their livestock and trash. They are as invisible as the bums in the alleys of a major city; obvious, if you know what to look for and where to look.
For more information on bigfoot, please visit the following sites:
The BFRO hosts a sightings database for sightings and encounters in North America and other locations. It also hosts articles with some good information. I recommend it as a first stop.
The Bigfoot Discovery Museum has interesting video presentations on bigfoot.
The Olympic Project is a game camera project which seeks to get pictures of bigfoots through camera trapping.
North American Bigfoot Search has some good information.
The Bigfoot Forums is probably the most balanced forum pertaining to bigfoot. Neither skeptics nor believers are chased away, regardless of how pathological they are in their views.
Stan Courtney is a local bigfoot investigator in Illinois, and his blog contains some good info.
Just so you don't think physicists don't have a sense of humor, here is a joke about physicists.
Physics is a child of Philosophy, and I have a (incomplete) page on political philosophy here.
A little outdated, but a good example of what happens when we
let the majority tyrannize the minority, and reduce liberty.
I am continually updating my webpage. I try to keep most of the information contained in the previous versions in the new version, but sometimes I drop stuff. I do not keep copies of my old pages. If you are looking for something I dropped then please ask. My address is at the bottom of this page and I will be more than happy to tell you what I know about your question, or where to begin looking for some answers to what I don't know.
I have a web server that contains a copy of this page and some other documents and files. Please visit wolfgang.phy.uic.edu/~tony to see my documents there. My webpage on my University account is at www2.uic.edu/~aciani1.
Anthony Ciani / E-mail: tony _@_ wolfgang phy uic edu / Tony's Home Page / December 28, 2009