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Dr. Ken Podolak

Photo of Ken Podolak working in the labAssistant Professor of Physics


  • Ph.D. in Physics, Dilute Ferromagnetism, Penn State, 2008
  • M.Ed., Pedagogy in Algebra-Based Physics, Penn State, 2005
  • B.S. in Physics, High Honors, Rochester Institute of Technology, 2002

Teaching Areas

  • Introductory physics
  • Modern physics
  • Intermediate laboratory
  • Solid State physics

Professional Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Physics, SUNY Plattsburgh, 2008–present

Research Areas

My research is in nanomagetism. The magnetization of the sample may be switched from one orientation to another that could be used as a storage device in binary code format. This area of research has recently received a lot of notoriety due to the Nobel Prize in Physics awarded based on the GMR effect (2008).

Most of my work is in magnetic alloys, and how to control the magnetic properties by changing the concentrations of the elements in the alloy. For example, combining just two magnetic elements, Ni and Fe in different ways, you can get a variety of different properties. Invar, which is composed of 65% iron in nickel, is often of interest due to its low thermal coefficient. The magnetic properties of permalloy make it a good choice for magnetic devices like computer hard drive reading heads. Recent research projects have been in studying optical plasmon behavior of magnetic films that uses light as a method to transport information.

Student Research Projects

Students may have an opportunity to work in all areas of my research projects from creating their own materials, characterizing their properties, to disseminating results in papers and conferences. I am also open to any new ideas of research a student might have. I accept students at any level of experience.

Physics/Engineering Club

As the advisor for physics/engineering club, I have the pleasure of helping student be active in their pursuit of hands on projects. Recent projects have including a Vermont charity event where students build their own pumpkin chuckin’ trebuchet for competition. The club has also held science nights for high school students, tutoring sessions, and built an electric powered bicycle. We are always looking for new projects to take on to better our own knowledge in physics/engineering while having fun doing it.


  • K.R. Podolak, T.J.Betthauser, K.N.Altmann. "Spin scattering in manganese doped nickel." Physica B 408, 58 (2013).
  • K. R. Podolak, S.B. Wagner, and J.A. Smith, “Manganese doping influence on the plasmon energy of nickel films,” Surface Science 606, 996 (2012).
  • K. R. Podolak, R. F. Willis, M. J. Wilson, P. E. Schiffer, T. A. Norman, and K. N. Altmann. "Local and nonlocal magnetic behavior of dilute manganese-doped nickel alloys," J. Appl. Phys. 105 083918 (2009).
  • R. F. Willis, T. Bramfeld and K. R. Podolak, "Finite-size nanoscaling of the critical temperature of ferromagnets with variable range of spin interactions," J. Appl. Phys. 101, 09G119 (2007).
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