Department Research

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

Hypernova

Astrophysics research at UAH include observational and theoretical work on cosmology, active galaxies, galaxy evolution and galaxy clusters with multi-wavelength data from radio to gamma rays. Relativistic jets have been investigated in order to understand particle acceleration, magnetic field generation, and radiation using particle-in-cell code. Other research fields include high-energy instrumentation and astrophysics in the solar system.

Faculty: M. Bonamente, R. Miller, R. Lieu, K. Nishikawa, M. Sun

Optics

Optics

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.

Faculty: D. Gregory, S. Sadeghi, L. Duan

Space and Solar Physics

Flare Eruption

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

Nonlinear Dynamics

Chaotic Field Lines

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, G. Li