Dr. Christian Mahinay is the new Vacuum Coating Laboratory coordinator of the Ateneo Physics Department


Dr. Christian Mahinay at the Vacuum Coating Laboratory of the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University

by Quirino Sugon Jr

After earning his Ph.D. in Physics degree from UP Diliman last May 2015, Dr. Christian Mahinay was appointed as the new Vacuum Coating Laboratory Coordinator of the Department of Physics. Dr. Mahinay’s specialization is plasma physics and he has been with the Department of Physics since June 2014. Below is an interview with Dr. Christian Mahinay by the Ateneo Physics News.

1. Can you tell us something about your educational background?

My high school was in the Integrated Development  School (IDS) of Mindanao state University-Iligan institute of Technology (MSU-IIT). It was also my hometown. I took UPCAT and passed, and went to UP Diliman for college. I was supposed to take Computer Engineering, but it was a quota course, so I chose BS Applied physics instead. After graduation, I found it hard to apply for a job without Masters degree. I went back to school and and took my MS and PhD in Physics in UP Diliman. I then applied in Ateneo. Actually, it was Sir Ivan Culaba who reached out to me. He asked me if i wanted to apply in Ateneo. I said yes. My scholarship was already running out and  I need an employment. So I applied. I started teaching last June 2014–just one year and a two months ago. I finished my Phd in Physics last May 2015.

2. What is your field of specialization?

My field is in Ion Beam Physics, a specialized field in Plasma Physics. In my PhD work, I wanted to look at the characteristics of ions in ion beams. To do this, I designed a simple equipment which can analyze the ion beam’s kinetic energy and mass species. I found out that even though ion beams are by their nature divergent because of repulsive forces between ions, you can mitigate this diverging nature by combining positive and negative ions. I am still writing a paper on this. I already passed an abstract in a 25th international TOKI conference in Japan. It’s a conference about plasma applications such as ion beams and fusion. I shall  present not only what I found out regarding the properties of ion beams, but also the design of the equipment that I used to characterize the properties of ion beam. The latter I have already published before in the Review of Scientific Instruments.  It was regarding the feasibility of a 90 degree electrostatic energy analyzer for low energy ion beams. It was this paper which actually gave me my phd degree. Well, in UP and in Ateneo you need to publish one ISI paper to get your PhD in Physics degree.

Review of Scientific Instruments is a journal about instruments for measuring any scientific parametrer. It took me about four years to finish my PhD. The last year was just for waiting for the paper to be approved for publication. The paper was rejected two times in different journals, so I have to wait for years.

3. What are you teaching right now?

This semester I am teaching one Ps 1 (Introductory Physics), two Ps 51 (Physics 1), one Ps 51.1 (Physics 1, Laboratory), and Ps 173 (Radiation and Optics) as elective. I wanted to teach plasma physics, but we did not have enough time to create the course.

4. What is your laboratory affiliation?

I was assigned in Vacuum Coating Laboratory. Here we are using plasma to coat different kinds of materials, which is in line with what i am studying. We are also using ion beams. Right now, I have been assigned as head of the lab. I was surprised at this appointment since this is only my second semester of teaching. It was surprising and a bit scary, but I accepted the challenge. I came from a larger lab in UP Diliman. This might not be different from what I came from.

5. What is the difference between the laboratories in UP Diliman and in Ateneo de Manila University?

The lab in UP Diliman is Plasma Physics Laboratory. It’s main goal is to study plasma, although we are also working on coating and surface modification. The lab also has researchers doing theoretical plasma physics.

In the Ateneo Vacuum Coating Laboratory, on the other hand, the lab is mostly on application. In the future, I wish to start the research on some theoretical plasma and ion beam physics. Also, in matters of size, the Plasma Physics Laboratory in UP has about 30 to 40 members–that’s the students plus the faculty.  Here in Ateneo, we only have 9 members, with me, Sir Ivan Culaba, Mike Jallorina, and Ramon delos Santos as faculty members; the remaining five are students.

6. Are you organizing an activity?

Well right now, I was assigned as the head of the Secretariat Committee for the Golden Anniversary of the Department of Physics. Our task was to invite alumni, compile correspondences, and take note of the people that are registering.

For myself and Sir Ivan, this coming January we will be hosting a plasma conference here in Ateneo. But that it is still months away. We’re still on the planning stages. There’s a possibility it might not push through. The Golden Jubilee is the most immediate.

7. What are your 5-year goals for the lab?

For one, I hope to add two to three other machines. So far we have three working machines: thermal evaporation machine, ion beam machine, and atmospheric plasma machine. More machines means more students to come in for there research. I hope we can double at least the population of students that we have from 5 to 10–or 20 students. Right now, we have one MS Physics student: Mike Jallorina, my co-faculty. I hope that half of the students we have would be graduate students.

8. Who inspired you to take up physics?

When I was in high school, I wanted to go to Engineering because I love computers. But it was very hard to enter into Engineering in UP Diliman. So I thought of another course. Of all my science subjects, my most favorite subjects is Physics. It was because my high school teacher back then was very good. Her name was Ma’m Ciriaca Charie Dangkulos. Compared to Biology and Chemistry where I have to study a bit harder, I already learned a lot for the physics part, just by listening to her lecture. So when I tried to find another course to enter into UP Diliman, I already knew what was my second course apart from Computer Engineering and it was Physics.

9. Do you have any parting words for our Physics majors?

You don’t have to be a genius to excel in Physics. As long as you work hard and understand what you are doing, that is good enough.


Dr. Christian Mahinay and the students of Vacuum Coating Laboratory of the Department of Physics


About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

One Response to Dr. Christian Mahinay is the new Vacuum Coating Laboratory coordinator of the Ateneo Physics Department

  1. Pingback: Ateneo Physics Department to hold its 50th Anniversary on Oct 10, 2015: An interview with Event Coordinator Johanna Indias | ATENEO PHYSICS NEWS

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