Our main areas of research are astrophysics, optics, and space science. Both graduate and undergraduate students are deeply involved in the Department's research groups and projects, which are summarized below.
Astrophysics research at UAH includes observational and theoretical work on LCDM inflationary cosmology, active galaxies, relativistic jets, particle acceleration, gravitational lensing, galaxy evolution, galaxy clusters, gamma ray bursts, and stellar physics with numerical simulations and multi-wavelength data from radio to gamma rays. The department is also active in the research fields of hard X-ray and gamma-ray detector development and observational technique, statistical methods for astronomy, and astrophysics in the solar system.
Faculty: M. Bonamente, R. Miller, R. Lieu, K. Nishikawa, M. Sun
Current research focuses on developing two types of laser systems with extreme spectral properties: (1) compact low-phase-noise lasers with ultra-narrow linewidths (<100 Hz) and (2) fiber-laser-based optical frequency combs with ultra-broad spectra (1000-2000 nm). Both types of lasers are powerful tools for precision optical sensing and optical metrology, which are also studied and developed based on our laser systems.
Current research in nanophotonics emphasizes (1) the coherent control of optical properties of nanostructures in the presence intense laser fields and plasmonic effects; (2) the development of new optical materials; (3) energy transfer between nanostructures; and (4) the engineering of the electronic and relaxation properties of nanostructures using metallic nanoparticles. Concurrent research is carried out to utilize these concepts to develop active nanostructures, functional photonic band gaps based on coherent effects and superradiant excitons, and various optical devices including new laser system.
Additionally there is an effort to interface the two principal research disciplines of Optics and Astrophysics, by exploring the various application of current advances in classical and quantum optics to the development of next generation astronomical telescopes.
Faculty: D. Gregory, S. Sadeghi, L. Duan
Space and Solar Physics
Research on a variety of space physics subjects, including (1) the solar wind/local interstellar medium interaction, (2) plasma turbulence, (3) solar energetic particle events and space weather, and (4) computational physics. Research on understanding particle acceleration and transport, and the resulting X- and gamma-ray emissions, from solar flares. Data from a variety of NASA missions (such as RHESSI) are diagnostics of the high-energy processes in these energetic events. This data is used to guide and constrain numerical simulations, which are used to model and probe the flare's basic workings.
Faculty: J. Miller
Current research includes both experimental and theoretical studies of chaotic phenomena in physical systems. Examples include chaotic magnetic field lines due to simple asymmetric current configurations, scattering and energization of charged particles in chaotic magnetic fields, applications of chaotic magnetic fields in solar physics, and chaotic phenomena in electronic and electro-mechanical devices with application to communication and radar technologies. Research activities are enhanced by involvement of researchers from the nonlinear dynamics group at the US Army's Charles M. Bowden Lab on Redstone Arsenal, who also serve as adjunct faculty.
Faculty: J. Blakely, N. Corron