Melville P. Ulmer


Telephone: 847-491-5633
Fax: 847-491-3135
Dearborn Dept Assisant Telephone: 847-491-7650
Electroforming Facility Telephones: 847-491-7705 and 7115
mailing address:
2131 Tech Drive
Dearborn Observatory
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
Northwestern Univ.
Evanston, IL 60208-2900
Office:Dearborn Observatory #3 (General Campus Interactive Map)

Biographical sketch: He received his Ph.D. in Physics with a minor in Astronomy from the Univ. of Wisconsin in 1970. He then spent 4 years at the Univ. of California, San Diego and 2 years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics before coming to Northwestern University in 1976. He has been Director of the Astrophysics Program at Northwestern University since 1983 and a Full Professor since 1987. He has published over 200 papers in professional journals and proceedings. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Fellow of SPIE and has served on numerous NASA advisory and review panels.

Research: He was a charter member and Co-I of the Oriented Scintillation Spectrometer Experiment (OSSE) on the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory. It was a sad day when the Observatory underwent a forced reentry to the atmosphere on June 3, 2000. Ulmer has published over 250 articles in journals and conference proceeding. He shares his time between instrumentation development and astrophysical studies. His astrophysical studies have mainly centered around clusters of galaxies. Ulmer's studies of clusters of galaxies on topcis ranging from low surface brightness galaxies in Coma to multi-wavelength the studies of high redshift clusters. Shown below is mosaic of the Coma cluster on which he is also working in collaboration with Adami, Mazure (LAM) and Durret (IAP). He has also established a new program to study the nature of Dark Energy (DE) using weak lensing and cluster of galaxies. For the DE study He is using both HST arhcival data plus he has submitted a request for more HST observing time. Also, he has been developing technology to extend the operating range of X-ray mirrors up to 100 keV (the related articles are given below in postscript format) as well as adaptive X-ray optics for the Gen X project ( He is also working on developing UV solar blind detectors based on wide-band gap semiconductors made with GaN (see SPIE postscript). He has organized a team which has developed an innovative and unique design for studying transient phenomena in the hard X-ray sky. An example of this design can be found in the description of the Midex project called ALLEGRO which we proposed to study gamma-ray bursts and the transient hard X-ray sky.

    Here I give links to my most recent work on 5 projects while below I give a historical perspective of work over the past few years

    1. Magnetically Smart x-ray Optics

    2. Dark Energy American French Team/French American Dark energy team

    3. Tidal disruption X-ray flares in normal galaxies

    4. UV sensitive visible blind avalanche photo-diodes

    5. Clusters of galaxies general

Left, a mosaic provide by C. Savine (LAM) of about 40' x 30' of the Coma cluster based on CFHT12K camera and then modifed by Sylwia Walerys-Belczynska into a color image using R,V and B band data. If you click on the image, you get the full image. Right the most distant cluster yet we have found at nearly z = 0.9 (about 6.4Gy after the Big Bang). next form left: a color optical image, with verified cluster members circled, from left to right, redshifts with [OII] in parentheses if present are: 0.860, 0.873 ([OII]), 0.864, 0.874 ([OII]), 0.862 ([OII]), and 0.865 ([OII]). The smallest empty circle marks the approximate cluster center and the two larger ones mark approximately 0.25 Mpc (the putative cluster core radius) and 0.5 Mpc for z = 0.866. Left, a MIPS 24 μm (R) , IRAC-3.6 μm (G) and i'-band (B) image that shows all the spectroscopically determined members that were detected by the MIPS (red boxes; based on MIPS-i-band source association that is not necessarily correct to better than 2 arc seconds) with our observations. The circle is 3 arcmin radius or about 1.3 Rv (see . Right the same color scheme on a zoomed scale with the i-band (blue) now greatly suppressed to bring out the MIPs flux. The green contours are based on the 0.3-2 keV XMM-Newton image. North is up and East is to the left click here for a 36" x 42" poster version of the Coma field (522M)

From left to Right: NU Electroforming Facility; a coated madrel just before being put in the electroforming bath; a mirror after removal plus the mandrel plus a cap, the release layer on the mirror has not yet been removed; mirror alone which has now been trimmed and has the release layer removed. The mirror and mandrel are about 10 long and 10 in diameter with a draft angle of 1/2 degree. The multilayers are Si/W with a d-spacing of about 5.3 nm and a total of 60 layers (for details, X-ray measurements, and references to more details, see below). Click on the images to see an enlarged view.

Click on the images to enlarge and to see the plots more clearly.

The results of measurements made at the 2-BM-B SRI-CAT beam line at the Argonne National Laboratory Advanced Photon Source, June, 2001. The purple represent the data, the white the best fit using the same model for all data sets. The two 10 keV curves were made at two different orientations of the mirror with respect to the optical axis, i.e. about a 90 degree rotation in azimuth. The thirty keV measurement was taken at the first orientation. These data demonstrate that we have placed excellent multilayers on the inside of a truncated cone. For details see the our SPIE paper for the July 2001 SPIE conference 4496, paper 17 SPIE pdf File (1M) also,pdf File (1.1M) . We also have made power point presentation based on our July 2001 SPIE conference presentation SPIE ppt File (2.2M).

Pictures of two undergraduate students using the electroforming and vacuum depostion faciltiy for making laminated deployable space optics, left Jonathan Echt, center Matvey Farber, and right Matvey Farber and Alex Limpaecher preparing to race tricycles around the Argonne Advanced Photon Source while waiting for our X-ray mirror experiment ot begin.

Click on the images to enlarge the images.

As of August 2000: our very first try in many years to make a 40 cm long Wolter I mirror. This one is with multilayers on the inside. The layers were made out of W/ZrN and with about an 8nm d-spacing The image on the left was made with a CCD at the ANL APS with 20 keV X-rays. The red spot to which the arrow is pointing to is the the reflected X-ray beam. The bar under the "10" corresponds to a length of 10 arc minutes. The plot is based on "collapsing" the data corresponding to the red spot in the image in the horizontal direction and then plotting the resultant intensity as a function of vertical direction. Each histogram step in this plot corresponds to a 0.1 arc minute. The full width at the base is about 4 arc minutes. The photo on the right is of the Wolter I mirror in the APS DND 5BM hutch where the X-ray reflectivity measurements were done. In order to perfect our technique, we have returned to making truncated cones (see above). We will eventually begin making more Wolter I mirrors again.

Another use for multilayer X-ray mirrors can be found in solar astrophysics cf. the AAS Solar Physics Divison June, 2003 AAS Poster. ppt File (1.6M)

We in Illinois take X-ray optics very seriously as can be seen in this unmodified photograph taken a few miles north of Evanston.

Useful tutorial for semiconductors can be found at: Semi-Conductor Tutorial see also Semi-Conductor Physics

Useful links for NASA summer center programs can be found below and also at for the JPL summer program: USRP see also NASA Academies

Selected Publications:

Ulmer, M. P., Wessels, B. W., Han, B., Gregie, J., Tremsin, A., Siegmund, O. H. W. "Advances in wide-bandgap semiconductor based photocathode devices for low light level applications" Proc. of SPIE, 5164, 144, (2003), pdf File (692k)
Siegmund, O. H. W., Tremsin, A. S., Martin, A., Malloy, J., Ulmer, M. P., Wessels, B. "GaN photocathodes for UV detection and imaging" Proc. of SPIE, 5164, 134 (2003). pdf File (145k)
Norton, T. J., Woodgate, B. E., Stock, J., Hilton, G., Ulmer, M. P., Aslam, S., Vispute, R. D. "Results from Cs activated GaN photocathode development for MCP detector systems at NASA GSFC" Proc. of SPIE, 5164, 155 (2003). pdf File (478k)
Ulmer, M. P. , Altkorn, R. , Graham, M. E., Madan, A., Chu, Y. S. "Production and performance of multilayer coated conical mirrors", Revised manuscript submitted to Applied Optics 2003, pdf File (1.1M)
Ulmer, M. P. Wessels, B. W., and Siegmund, O. H. W., "Advances in Wide-Band Gap Semi-Conductor Based Photocathode Devices for Low Light Level Applications", Proc. of Spie, San Jose 2002, to be published, pdf File (3.4M)
Ulmer, M. P. Wessels, B. W., and Siegmund, O. H. W., "Advances in Wide-Band Gap Semi-Conductor Based Photocathode Devices for Low Light Level Applications" [Part II], Proc. of Spie, Hawaii, (2002), pdf File (222k)
Ulmer, M. P. Altkorn, R. I., and Kibblewhite, E. D., "Replication As An Alternative Approach For Large Segmented Telescopes", Proc. of Spie, Hawaii, 2002, to be published, pdf File (6.4M)
Shahedipour, F., Ulmer, M. P., Wessels, B. W., Joseph, C., Nihashi, T., "Efficient GaN photocathodes for low light level ultra-violet signal detection," JQE, to be publisehd (2002). MS Word doc File (81k)

Ulmer, M. P., Wessels, B. W., Shahedipour, F., Joseph, C., Nihashi, T., "Progress in the Fabrication of GaN Photo-Cathodes," Hubble Science Workshop, April 2002. PDF PDF(6.4M)

M. P. Ulmer, B. W. Wessels, F. Shahedipour, R. Y. Korotkov, C. Joseph, and Tokuaki Nihashi, "Progress in the Fabrication of GaN Photo-Cathodes," SPIE, 4288 246-253 (2001). PDF (344k)

Adami, C., Mazure, A., Ulmer, M. P., and Savine, C., " Ceontral Mater disitrbtuion in rich clusters of galxies from z ~ 0 to z ~ 0.5," A&A, 371, pp 11-18, (2001).

Ulmer, M. P., Matz, S.M., Grove, J.E., Strickman, M.S., Kurfess, J.D., Ruderman, M., Zhu, T., "Search for Redshifted Annihilation Radiator from the Crab Pulsar," Ap. J., 551, pp 244-248 (2001).
Adami, C., Ulmer, M. P., Romer, A. K., Nichol, R. C., Holden, B., and Pidlsi, R, "The Bright SHARC Survey: The Selection Function and Its Impact on the Cluster X-Ray Luminosity Function,", ApJS, 131, pp 391-412, (2000).
Thomas, C.D., Ulmer, M. P., Ketterson, J.B., "Observation of Electromagnetic Coupling to a Closed Superconducting Thin-Film Cavity," IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity}, {\bf vol.10 no.2},pp.1631-1633 (2000).
Reshchikov, M.A., Shahedipour, F., Korotkov, R.Y., Wessels, B.W., and Ulmer, M. P. ``Photoluminescence band near 2.9 eV in undoped GaN epitaxial layers," Journal of Applied Physics}, 87, pp.3351-3354 (2000).
Adami, C., Ulmer, M. P., Durret, F., Nichol, R. C., Mazure, A., Holden, B. P., Romer, A. K., Savine, C., ``A turn-over in the galaxy luminosity function of the Coma cluster core?'', A\& A, 353, 930 (2000).
Romer, A. K., Nichol, R. C., Holden, B. P., Ulmer, M. P., Pildis, R. A., Merrelli, A. J. Adami, C. Burke, D. J. Collins, C. A. Metevier, A. J. Kron, R. G., Commons, K., ``The Bright SHARC Survey: The Cluster Catalog,'' ApJS, 126, 209 (2000).
Adami, C, Ullmer, M. P., Castander, F. J., mazure, A., Nichol, R. C., and Ulmer, M. P., "Dynamical and content evolution of a sample of clusters from z ~ 0 to z ~ 0.5," A & A, 362, pp 825-834, (2002).
Metevier, Anne J., Romer, A. Kathy, Ulmer, M. P., ``The Butcher-Oemler Effect at Moderate Redshift'' AJ, 119, pp. 1090-1099, (2000).
Adami, C., Holden, B. P., Castander, F. J., Nichol, R. C., Mazure, A.; Ulmer, M. P., Postman, M., Lubin, L. M., `` The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Optical PDCS Survey (COP). I. The Data'', AJ, 120, pp. 1-22, (2000).
Holden, B. P. Adami, C. Nichol, R. C. Castander, F. J., Lubin, L. M., Romer, A. K., Mazure, A., Postman, M. Ulmer, M. P., ``The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Optical PDCS Survey. II. Evolution in the Space Density of Clusters of Galaxies'', AJ, 120, pp. 23-40, (2000).
Cruddace, R.G., Fenimore, E.E., Fritz, G.G., Kowalski, M.P., Snyder, W.A., and Ulmer, M.P., "The Baryon Fraction in the Perseus Cluster: Results from Spartan 1," ApJ, vol. 476, p 479 (1997).
Ulmer, M.P., Bernstein, G.M., Martin, D.R., Nichol, R.C., Pendleton, J.L., and Tyson, J.A. 1996, "Low Surface Brightness Galaxies in the Core of the Coma Cluster," AJ, vol. 112, p 2517 (1996).
Song, S.N., Maglic, S.R., Thomas, C.D., Ulmer, M.P., and Ketterson, J.B. 1996, "High Energy Resolution X-Ray Detection Based on a Coupled Fiske Cavity and Josephson Junction Oscillator, "Appl. Phys. Lett. vol 69, 1631.
Romer, A.K., Nichol, R.C., Collins, C.A., Burke, D.J., Holden, B.P., Ulmer, M.P., Pildis, R.A., Metevier, A., "Recent results from the SHARC Survey," Astronomische Nachrichten, vol. 319, no. 1, p. 83 (1997).
Wang, Q. Daniel, Ulmer, Melville P., "X-ray shapes of distant clusters and blue galaxy fractions" MNRAS, vol. 292, p. 920 (1997).
Holden, B.P., Romer, A.K., Nichol, R. C., Ulmer, M.P. "X-Ray Observations of Distant Optically Selected Clusters," AJ vol. 114, p. 1701 (1997)
Nichol, R. C., Holden, B. P., Romer, A. K., Ulmer, M. P., Burke, D. J., Collins, C. A., "Evolution in the X-Ray Cluster Luminosity Function Revisited," ApJ vol. 481, p.644 (1997). Ulmer, Melville P., Altkorn, Robert I. Krieger, Allen S. Parsignault, Daniel R. Chung, Yip-Wah,,"Grazing incidence and multilayer X-ray optical systems" Proceedings of SPIE, 1997, vol. 3113, p. 267 (1997).
PS File (100K)
Ulmer, Melville P. , Altkorn, Robert I., Krieger, Allen S., Parsignault, Daniel R., Chung, Yip-Wah , Wong, Ming-Show, Lai, Barry, Mancini, Derrick, D., Takacs, Peter Z, and Church, Eugene, "Super Mirror Fabrication via Electroforming" Proceedings of SPIE, 1997, vol 3152, p. (1997).
PS File (300K)
Ulmer, M. P., "Gamma-Ray Observations of Pulsars," ApJ Suppl., vol 90., p . 789 (1994).

Ulmer, M. P., Razeghi, M., and Bigan, E., 1995, "Ultra-Violet Detectors for Astrophysics, Present and Future", SPIE Feb 1995 San Jose Conference Proceeding, vol. 2397, p 210 (1995).
PS File (94K)
Ulmer, Melville P. "Requirements and design considerations of UV and x-ray detectors for astronomical purposes," Proc. SPIE Vol. 2999, p. 259 (1997).
PS File (84K)

Class notes in PDF format part 1 for Prof. Ulmer's Cosmology Class

Class notes in PDF format part 2 for Prof. Ulmer's Cosmology Class

Class notes in PDF format part 3 for Prof. Ulmer's Cosmology Class

Class notes in PDF format part 4 for Prof. Ulmer's Cosmology Class

Class notes in PDF format for volume formula for Prof. Ulmer's Cosmology Class

for Prof. Ulmer's Milky Way Astronomy 102 course.

for Prof. Ulmer's Solar System Astronomy 103 course.

for Prof. Ulmer's Cosmology For non-science majors course

for Prof. Ulmer's Highlights of Astronomy course.


for Prof. Ulmer's Freshman Seminar Fall 2011 "Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Pulsars, and All That"

For general contact information...

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