Experimental research areas include intense laser-matter interaction, femtosecond laser physics and the study of biological systems using AMO techniques. Several laser systems are in use within Small Hall. The theory program includes the study of classical trajectories and chaos in atomic and molecular systems and their correlation with quantum mechanics.
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 is preparing for an upcoming experiment that will search for physics beyond the standard model at the TeV scale. 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
Particle physics research is aimed at possible new physics that lies beyond the current standard model of known elementary particles and their interactions. Theoretical research includes work on grand unified theories, super-symmetry, extra spatial dimensions and cosmology. The experimental high energy group is active in the search for neutrino oscillations using a neutrino beam produced at Fermilab, currently the largest proton-antiproton collider in the world. The department maintains labs for detector construction and testing, a polarized target lab 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.
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.