The central principle in the structure of the graduate program is that a student’s progress and ultimate success is best served by early and varied research experiences coupled with individually tailored course sequences.
Current areas of research specialization are:
- Astrophysics, cosmology, and relativity
- Atmospheric and space physics
- Atomic and molecular physics
- High energy physics and elementary particles
- Solid state/condensed matter physics/materials science
The Theoretical Cosmology and Relativity Group studies fundamental problems in astrophysics, contemporary cosmology, and relativity. These involve analytical, numerical, and cosmological-data related projects. The group is instrumental in organizing the biennial Texas Symposia on Relativistic Astrophysics, beginning in Dallas in 1963 and recurring regularly all over the world since then.
Current areas of research include: gravitational lensing and its applications to cosmology; the acceleration of the expansion of the universe (cosmological constant, dark energy); fitting cosmological models to observational data (e.g., cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), lensing, supernovae); dark matter; the structure of the Big Bang; the role of inflation; computer algebra systems applied to general relativity and cosmology; space-time junction conditions and wormholes; cosmological models of wider generality than the classical homogeneous models and their possible observational signatures. More information is available at: http://www.utdallas.edu/~mishak/relativitycosmology.html.
Research in atmospheric and space physics encompasses both theory and experiment, with an emphasis on aeronomy, ionospheric physics, planetary atmospheres, atmospheric electricity and its effects on weather and climate, and space instrumentation. Much of the research occurs in the Center for Space Sciences, which includes laboratory facilities for instrument design, fabrication, and testing. Faculty and students participate in ongoing satellite missions sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] and the Department of Defense [DoD], and suborbital sounding rockets.
They also participate in analysis of large data sets from previous missions and from ground-based optical and radar instruments in locations ranging from Greenland to South America. Particular areas of interest include large- and small-scale dynamics and electrodynamics, numerical modeling of the thermosphere and ionosphere, characteristics of the near-Earth plasma environment, the effects of solar variability on atmospheric electricity, cloud microphysics and tropospheric dynamics, plasma instabilities and irregularities, and development and testing of innovative space flight instrumentation. Computer facilities include a network of dedicated workstations and access to supercomputers.
Experimental research in atomic and molecular physics is directed toward a more complete understanding of such processes as the dynamics of excitation and energy transfer, the thermal economy and transport properties that occur in a variety of plasma and discharge configurations.
Sophisticated diagnostic instrumentation used in these studies include ultraviolet, visible light and infrared spectrometers, and detectors, tunable pulsed and continuous wave lasers, a shock tube facility and mass spectrometers. Several minicomputer systems are used for data acquisition and analysis.
The group’s main activity is the BaBar experiment, at the PEP-II asymmetric B factory located at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). BaBar has published measurements of charge conjugation (C) and parity (P) violation, or CP violation, in the decays of bottom mesons and is exploring whether the origin of this CP violation lies within the Standard Model. BaBar data is fertile ground for precision and rare decays of bottom and charm particles, and tau lepton.
BaBar’s goal is to explore CP violation in the decays of bottom mesons and to study bottom and charm meson decay. Research with BaBar is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The BaBar group specializes in high performance computing, simulation production, and data analysis while contributing to the operation of the experiment.
Graduate students utilize the High Energy Physics Group’s own Linux processing farm. With 128 CPU’s, it is the most powerful computing facility on campus, but is continually expanding to scale with the growing BaBar data set. UTD is networked to SLAC via Internet2.
Research in optics concentrates in quantum optics, nonlinear optics and selected applications in physics and chemistry. Areas of particular interest include quantum coherence theory and the quantum statistical properties of light as well as the effects of coherent nonlinear-optical processes on the propagation of electromagnetic waves.
Materials science is at the interface of many disciplines and involves a collaborative approach with colleagues in chemistry, and electrical engineering. Our research facilities are distributed over the physics laboratories, the NanoTech Institute and the Cleanroom Research Laboratory. Research in materials science involves both experiment and theory with emphasis on the physical aspects of materials science. A synopsis of our activities is given below: Measurements of optical properties of solids with emphasis on modulated reflectance and Raman scattering of semi-conductors are routinely carried out.
Various nanoscale and synthetic materials are being studied for their optical, electronic and transport properties, as well as applications in photonics and (opto)electronics. The materials of interest include nanostructures (quantum dots and wires, fullerenes and carbon nanotubes) and low-dimensional systems, photonic band gap crystals and “left-handed” electromagnetic meta-materials, organic and polymeric materials.
The interaction of nanoscale materials, such as carbon nanotubes, with biological entities are being investigated for prospective biomedical and electronic applications. For example, chemically functionalized carbon nanotubes are being studied as building blocks in transistor and sensor applications.
- Updated: October 12, 2011