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Department of Physics & Astronomy Research Groups

The department features highly active research groups in

Astronomy/Astrophysics, Biophysics , and Condensed Matter Physics

Astronomy & Astrophysics

  • Galaxies, Cosmology, and black holes

    Professors Mike Brotherton , Adam Myers , and Danny Dale. Professor Myers' mainly studies quasars and other Active Galactic Nuclei which are powered by ultra-massive black holes at the hearts of distant galaxies. Quasars are visible across 95% of the known Universe, and visible back in cosmic history to a time when the first galaxies were forming. Quasars trace the physics of the Universe at huge distances, large timescales and extremes in mass and energy. Danny Dale uses space based observatories to study the spectral energy distributions and star formation rates of galaxies from the nearby universe to the distant universe. Mike Brotherton studies active galactic nuclei using telescopes from the radio to X-ray to understand the physics of the supermassive black holes at their centers.

  • Stars and Star formation

    Prof. Chip Kobulnicky uses wide-field infrared surveys such as from the Spitzer Space Telescope to understand the locations and conditions of star formation in the Milky Way, especially in regions of high obscuration that harbor massive young star clusters. His group also uses the Wyoming Infrared Observatory 2.3 m telescope (WIRO) to make long-term spectroscopic surveys of massive stars, shedding new light on their formation, evolution, and role in producing nature's most energetic events like supernova and gamma-ray bursts.

  • Formation of Planetary Systems
    Prof. Hannah-Jang Condell uses supercomputers to simulate the structures in protoplanetary disks around young stars where young planets are forming.
  • Astronomical Instrumentation
    Prof. Mike Pierce designs and builds new state-of-the art astronomical instrumentation for the WIRO telescope and other facilities.

Biophysics
  • Prof. Paul Johnson developes novel methods for sensing pathogenic microorganisms in blood, water, and blood products.

Condensed Matter Physics
Professors Yuri Dahnovsky & Adrian Feiguin (theoretical/computational) and Jinke Tang & Wenyong Wang (experimental) are engaged in various investigations in condensed matter and materials physics. Research projects are currently being carried out by faculty, postdoctoral research associates and students in the follow areas:
  • Theoretical/computational condensed matter physics
    • Many-body approach to correlated electron dynamics in quantum dot sensitized solar cells
    • Hot electron transport and two electron transport in quantum dot sensitized solar cells
    • Numerical solutions of ab initio Kadanoff-Baym equations for nonequilibrium Green's functions
    • Nonlinear optics of quantum dot and quantum dot sensitized solar cells: ab initio quantum electron dynamics
    • Effect of electron-phonon interaction on the efficiency of quantum dot sensitized solar cells
    • ab initio description of quantum molecular wires
    • Exotic phases of matter including fractional quantum Hall, quantum magnetism, and cold-atomic systems
    • Equilibrium and non-equilibrium transport in nano-structures and molecular devices
    • Computational methods for strongly correlated quantum systems
  • Experimental condensed matter physics
    • Nanostructured materials and devices for photovoltaic solar cells
    • Novel synthesis of nanowire arrays and deposition of quantum dots on the nanowires
    • Investigations of energy transfers for improved energy conversion efficiency, including light absorption, charge transfer, recombination and electron/hole transport in these nanostructured materials
    • Luminescent materials for PV solar concentrators and white LEDs
    • Highly correlated electron systems and multiferroic materials
    • Spintronic materials including half-metals and magnetic semiconductors
    • Phonon transport in low dimensional nanostructures
    • Thermoelectric materials for energy conversion applications

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