Physics and Engineering Research Areas

Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics and Quantum Optics

Samir Bali

Undergraduates in the Bali lab work on experiments that (a) use trapped ultracold atoms at 10 µK to create highly efficient nano-ratchets which may show the path toward creating artificial nano-devices capable of rivaling biomolecular motors in performance, and (b) use quantum coherence in gases to create ultraslow-moving pulses of light at speeds a million times less than the speed of light in vacuum, for applications in quantum information processing and storage. Students gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art home-built diode laser systems and amplifiers, single-mode fiber optics, acousto-optic and magneto-optic devices, magnetic shielding techniques, precision frequency tuning and locking of lasers, and sensitive light detection systems.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Construction and design of tapered amplifier systems for laser cooling and trapping experiments
  • Artificial Brownian ratchets on the nanoscale using ultracold atoms
  • Design and implementation of an inexpensive fast imaging system for cold atom experiments
  • Creation and detection of ultraslow light in atomic vapor
  • Information storage in ultraslow propagating twisted light

Burçin Bayram

Experimental atomic, molecular and optical physics offers rich avenues of explorations and understanding of atoms and molecules and their interaction with light. Students will gain hands-on experience in time-resolved spectroscopy, molecular and laser spectroscopy using various pulsed and cw lasers, spectrometers, detectors, optics and electronic devices. The research has a wide range of applications, including condensed-matter, astronomy, quantum optics, chemistry, test and measurement in the semiconductor industry, materials characterization, and biological analysis.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Time-resolved spectroscopy
  • Molecular Spectroscopy
  • Quantum Beat Spectroscopy
  • Polarization spectroscopy
  • Construction and characterization of Littman-Metcalf laser cavity using pulsed lasers
  • Absorption and emission spectra of alkali atoms and molecules

E. Carlo Samson

Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to participate in a project involving an ultracold atomic system (Bose-Einstein condensate [BEC] of Rb-87) and the development of quantum protocols for its manipulation and control using laser beams. Aside from performing experiments in the creation of BECs, students will have hands-on experience in the following mini-projects: building an optical system for laser beam control; development of instrumentation control programs using LabVIEW and MatLab; and theoretical/numerical simulations of BEC superfluid dynamics.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Raspberry Pi Polarimeter and Beam Profiler
  • Shortcut to Adiabaticity for Harmonic and Anharmonic Traps using BFGS Algorithm
  • Numerical Simulations of the Fast Adiabatic Transport of an Ultracold Quantum System
  • GPU-Accelerated Numerical Simulation of Quantum Turbulence in Bose-Einstein Condensates

Biophysics and Biological Physics

Paul Urayama

Ongoing projects include developing of optical methods for the real time sensing of mitochondrial function with applications in biotechnology and biomedicine, and towards understanding metabolic response under pressurized (100-1000 atm) conditions.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Spectral phasor analysis of Saccharomyces cerevisiaeautofluorescence in the presence of a NADH fluorescence quencher
  • Monitoring changes in cellular conformations of NADH in yeast during metabolic transitions induced by alcohols
  • High pressure effects on the solvent denaturation of NADH probed via fluorescence spectroscopy

Karthik Vishwanath

Undergraduates choosing to work in the OSIM (Optical Spectroscopy and Imaging Methods) lab will explore the use of optical techniques for non-invasive and non-destructive sensing to quantitatively measure properties of soft-condensed matter systems, such as animal or plant tissues. Open projects include development and optimization of time-resolved optical spectroscopy instrumentation, advanced computational visualization and simulations for tracking photon propagation in scattering media and/or applications of using optical spectroscopy to quantify changes of blood perfusion/oxygenation in skin and muscle with applied external pressure.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Monitoring heart-rate from videos
  • Impact of acute-stress on brain hemodynamics
  • Laser speckle imaging of freely flowing fluids
  • Diffuse correlation spectroscopy to quantify blood flow

Condensed Matter Physics

Mahmud Khan

In my magnetism research lab student will get the opportunity to learn to prepare intermetallic alloy samples by Arc melting and annealing techniques. They will also get the opportunity to perform various measurements including AC and DC magnetization and electrical resistivity measurements on their samples. Undergraduate students in my lab have worked on the structural and magnetic properties of Heusler alloys and have published several papers on their research.

Engineering Physics

James Chagdes

Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to participate in biomechanics research by collecting human subject data, simulating mathematical models of human balance and walking, and creating software such as smartphone applications. These research tasks help to achieve our lab's goal of developing assistive technologies for improving the quality of life of individuals.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Development of a smartphone application for analyzing shoe insole data
  • Development of a virtual reality environment for human balance studies
  • Nonlinear dynamics of a human balance using a passive-case

Andrew Sommers

Currently studying the single-phase, convective heat transfer behavior of nano-fluids as well as investigating functionalized surfaces for improved condensate management on aluminum fin stick. Researchers in my group work at the interface of heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and surface chemistry.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Motion of Ferrofluid Droplets on Surface Tension Gradients in the Presence of a Magnetic Field
  • Using Micro-Milling to Fabricate Advanced Heat Transfer Surfaces
  • Modeling Frost Thickness on Hydrophilic and Hydrophobic Surfaces
  • Using Patterned Surface Wettability for Improved Defrosting Performance
  • Silicon Nanospring Mats as a Thermal Barrier Coating
  • Measuring the Defrosting Performance of Nanospring Coated Aluminum Surfaces
  • Benchmarking and Validation of a New Condensation Heat Transfer Test Facility

Computational Astrophysics

Stephen Alexander

My group's research centers around computational astrophysics where we attempt to solve astronomical problems employing computational physics. These problems have consisted of many issues associated with the formation of solar systems and the orbital and rotational evolution of planetary satellites. Recently, we have adapted our codes to study self-bound gravitating systems like stellar clusters and galaxies. Here, we are simulating the motion of stars in Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxies using an alternative to the dark matter paradigm, i.e. Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND).

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • A New Potential-Density Pair For Spherical Star Systems
  • Numerical Tools For The Study Of Primordial Black Holes As Dark Matter In Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy Halos

Quantum Information Theory

Imran Mirza

Have you heard about quantum computers? Are you interested in learning physics behind quantum computing and quantum ways of information processing? Please come and join Dr. Mirza's group where we are exploring these areas. In addition to being interested you should be ready to do some mathematics and running some fun computer simulations.

Physics Education

Jennifer Blue

In my group we work to make physics a more welcoming place for everyone. Sometimes that’s reforming the curriculum for introductory classes, sometimes it’s working with K-12 science teachers, and sometimes it’s advocating for traditionally excluded populations.

Recent undergraduate projects:

  • Comparison of Calculus-based and Algebra-based SCALE-UP Physics
  • Social Collaboration and the Usage of Textbooks in an Introductory Physics Class
  • Qualitative analysis of the conversion to SCALE-UP: Listening to Students
  • Investigation of Attitudes in Introductory Physics

Musical Acoustics

Herbert Jaeger

My research is in the area of musical acoustics. I am interested in the resonance behavior of air columns of simple and complex shape. I developed an apparatus to measure the acoustic impedance, a quantity that reveals the resonance frequencies of the air column. Tools used are home-built electronic circuits, LabVIEW programing, and numerical simulations using spreadsheets and MATLAB.