The Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics faculty study ultracold atomic physics, atom interferometry, parity violation, and precision measurements, as well as atom-based quantum optics and quantum-enhanced measurements.
Condensed Matter Physics
There are active experimental and theoretical programs in superconductivity, magnetism, thin film deposition, carbon nanomaterials, nuclear magnetic resonance and ultrafast laser studies of materials. An ultra-high field NMR facility with a 17.6 Tesla magnet, available at only a handful of other schools, provides opportunities for structure and dynamics studies in physical and biological materials.
Nuclear and Hadronic Physics
William & Mary has an active program in nuclear and hadronic physics, complemented by its proximity to Jefferson Lab. This state-of-the-art facility provides a high-energy electron beam used primarily for studying the substructure of the proton and neutron at the quark and gluon level. Current experimental and theoretical research is focused on understanding the basic properties of the nucleon, including the origin and distribution of its spin, charge and magnetic moment. Also at Jefferson Lab, the experimental nuclear physics group conducts precision experiments to search for physics beyond the standard model. Both the theoretical and experimental groups also study the spectrum of hadrons, with the potential to explore exotic new forms of matter such as hybrid mesons.
High Energy Physics
High-Energy Particle Physics research aims to understand the properties of elementary particles, including their spectrum, interactions, and relationship to the underlying space-time structure. Theorists construct elegant mathematical descriptions that are predictive and can be tested by their experimental colleagues. Both theorists and experimentalists work to uncover new physics beyond that described by the Standard Model of the known fundamental particles and their interactions. In particular, the W&M theory group focuses on grand unified theories, supersymmetry, extra spatial dimensions, gravity, and cosmology. The experimental high energy group is active in the study of neutrino oscillations, working on a number of international experiments. These large experiments are based at both the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, located outside of Chicago, IL and at CERN, an accelerator facility in Geneva Switzerland. The group maintains labs for detector construction and testing, a remote control room for monitoring the running experiments, and a computing farm for large-scale data analysis.
Research in this area includes the development of high-performance computational algorithms for classical and quantum turbulence, theoretical studies of wave propagation in plasmas, and various aspects of nonlinear signal processing.
A number of faculty conduct research in quantum information science-related areas, such as quantum sensing, quantum optics, quantum gases, quantum materials, and quantum computing. These research efforts include a number of multi-institution collaborations, e.g. with Jefferson Lab.
Other Research Areas
We have affiliated efforts in accelerator physics (in cooperation with Jefferson Lab) and materials characterization (in cooperation with NASA-Langley Research Center). The Physics Department maintains strong links with the W&M Applied Science Department and students can work on projects there as well.