The University of Texas at Austin

Department of Physics

2515 Speedway, C1600
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 471.1664
(512) 471-9637 (fax)

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Research Specialties and Staff

Research Specialties and Staff

The University of Texas at Austin

Specialties for Degree Program

Research specialty Degree type
(Final degree/Enroute to PhD)
Atomic, Molecular, & Optical Physics Experimental Both
Biophysics Experimental Both
Condensed Matter Physics Both Both
Cosmology & String Theory Theoretical Both
High Energy Density Science Both Both
Nonlinear Dynamics and Complex Systems None -
Nuclear Physics Both Both
Physics and other Science Education None Final-degree
Physics of Beams Experimental Both
Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics Theoretical Both
Statistical & Thermal Physics Theoretical Both
Statistical & Thermal Physics Theoretical Both

Departmental Research and Staff


Condensed Matter Physics

Ab initio electronic structure calculations of the physical, electronic, and magnetic (including noncolinear magnetic systems) properties of solids, surfaces, interfaces, and liquids; molecular dynamics calculations of properties of solids, liquids, and crack propagation; density functional theory; Berry phases in polarization theory and spinwave theory; block electrons in magnetic fields, quantum Hall effect; quantum theory of thin-film growth and surface diffusion; theory of mesoscopic phenomena, phonon calculations and lattice dynamics for high Tc superconductors; theory of atom surface interactions; physisorption; chemisorption.
J. Chelikowsky, F. de Wette, A. Demkov, G. Fiete, J. Gavenda, L. Kleinman, A. MacDonald, M. Marder, W. McCormick, Q. Niu, Andrew Potter, J. Swift, J. Thompson

Nonlinear Dynamics

Dynamics of materials, especially fracture and dislocation dynamics; instabilities and turbulence in fluids, granular media, liquid crystals, and chemical reaction-diffusion systems; chaos in low-dimensional dynamical systems.
M. Marder, W. McCormick, P. Morrison, J. Swift, H. Swinney

Particles and Fields

Phenomenological studies of the properties of matter ranging from medium-energy physics; symmetries in elementary particle physics; field theory of strong interactions and the physics of superdense matter; quantum chromodynamics; confinement problems; subquark and sublepton models; supersymmetry; quantum optics, basic quantum field theory, and quantum mechanics; classical mechanics; particle phenomena in terms of algebraic and group-theoretical methods; electromagnetic interactions.
A. Böhm, C. Chiu, D. Dicus, A. Gleeson, E. Sudarshan

Physics and other Science Education

Curriculum development and evaluation at the university level; science teacher preparation program; computer-based education.
C. Chiu, A. Gleeson, M. Marder, Raymond Orbach

Plasma and Fusion

Kinetic theory and transport theory; turbulent heating; collisionless shock waves; plasma turbulence; computer simulation of plasmas; stability theory controlled fusion; plasma dynamics.
H. Berk, W. Drummond, R. Fitzpatrick, R. Hazeltine, C. Horton, P. Morrison, M. Oakes

Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics

Scattering and reactions of hadrons and nuclei at medium energies; nuclear structure in the low-energy region using neutron-scattering techniques; nuclear structure and reaction mechanism.
W. Coker, C. Markert, C. Moore, P. Riley, T. Udagawa

Relativity & Gravitation

Quantum theory of space time; techniques of quantization in curved space-time; string theory; path integration; stochastic processes; critical phenomena in gravitational collapse; computational relativity; cosmology; exact solutions in general relativity; conformal properties of space time; manifolds with little symmetry; kinetic theory; conservation laws in general relativity; black hole physics; black hole interactions; gravitational radiation; interaction of matter with gravitation.
W. Fischler, R. Matzner, W. Schieve, S. Weinberg

Statistical & Thermal Physics

Nonequilibrium statistical physics; thermodynamic processes; nonequilibrium quantum statistical mechanics; quantum chaos; mesoscopic physics; nonlinear dynamics; complex systems theory; Brownian motion.
L. Reichl, W. Schieve

The Weinberg Theory Group

Research spans the range from studies of physics at the most fundamental level to exploration of phenomenologically relevant current issues in elementary particle physics. On the more fundamental level, the work continues in gravity and quantum cosmology, conformal field theories, superstring theories, and M theory, with special attention to the links between these topics and to the implication of superstring and M theory for effective field theories at accessible energies. Such theories offer the hope of uniting all forces including gravitation in a theory of superstrings. So far, it seems that these theories allow for the first time a satisfactory elimination of the infinities that have plagued all earlier quantum theories of gravitation.
J. Distler, W. Fischler, V. Kaplunovsky, Can Kilic, S. Paban, S. Weinberg


Atomic, Molecular, & Optical Physics

Atom optics; quantum transport in optical lattices; quantum chaos with ultracold atoms; ultracold collisions; Bose-Einstein condensation; search for atomic electric dipole moment; state-resolved molecular-surface scattering and gas-surface dynamics; the Raman spectroscopy; electron diffraction; neutrino rest mass experiments; laser spectroscopy of nanoparticles; development of new materials; molecular collision and sonoluminescence; femtosecond spectroscopy; high-power lasers; wake-field accelerators; terawatt lasers; optical properties of nanostructured plasmas at high fields.
T. Ditmire, M. Downer, M. Fink, L. Frommhold, Bjorn Hegelich, D. Heinzen, J. Keto, X. Li, M. Raizen, G. Sitz


Elastic properties of cells; motility of cells; bacterial competition; dynamics of swimming organisms; biofilms; spatial structures formed through intercellular interactions; adhesion phenomena; cell mechanics; cargo transport in cells; molecular motors (dynamics and regulation); membranes; assembly of biological complexes; diffusive and ballistic Brownian motion; biopolymers; characterization of single biomolecules; microtubule mechanics; yeast mechanics; membrane fusion; thermal noise imaging.
E.-L. Florin, Vernita Gordon

Condensed Matter Physics

Surface and thin-film magnetism; dynamics of magnetization reversal; magnetic switching; Barkhansen noise; domain dynamics; magnetic and electronic effects in ultrathin-film multilayers and nanostructures; normal and superconducting properties of high-temperature superconductors; nonlinear optical response of solids; femtosecond spectroscopy of solid-state systems; nanostructure fabrication and characterization based on scanning tunneling microscopy; intrinsic phenomena at surfaces and interfaces studied by electron diffraction, spectroscopy, atom surface scattering, linear and nonlinear optical spectroscopy; scanning probe techniques, including near-field optical microscopy; thin-film nucleation and growth; cluster physics, mesoscopic phenomena in solids; materials synthesis including novel magnetic and superconducting materials; transport and magnetic characterization; strongly correlated electron systems; mechanical properties of materials including fracture.
A. de Lozanne, A. Demkov, M. Downer, J. Erskine, Keji Lai, X. Li, M. Marder, J. Markert, C. Shih, M. Tsoi, Z. Yao

High Energy Physics

Properties of elementary particles, particularly kaons, B-mesons, and neutrinos; rare decays of the kaons; tests of conservation laws and CP violation; B-meson decays; information on CP violation; neutrino oscillation measurements; information on neutrino mass; detector development; applications of particle detectors to medical imaging. Experiments are conducted at national and international accelerator laboratories.
T. Andeen, K. Lang, Peter Onyisi, J. Ritchie, R. Schwitters

Nonlinear Dynamics and Complex Systems

Pattern formation and chaotic dynamics of diverse systems; planetary fluid dynamics (especially internal gravity waves in the oceans); viscous fingering; crack propagation in amorphous and crystalline solids; rupture in rubber; friction; control of atomic and molecular motion; trapping of different isotopes; trapping and cooling of macroscopic particles (microspheres); dynamics of Brownian motion; stretching and wrinkling of thin sheets and graphene; physics education research (people dynamics). See also, biophysics.
E.-L. Florin, Vernita Gordon, M. Marder, W. McCormick, P. Morrison, M. Raizen, H. Swinney

Plasma and Fusion

Plasma turbulence and transport; plasma heating; plasma propulsion; plasma spectroscopy; plasma diagnostics; plasma processing; atomic reactions in plasmas.
R. Bengtson, T. Ditmire, M. Downer, K. Gentle, Bjorn Hegelich

Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics

The research focuses on two experiments: (1) E896 (using the AGS at the Brookhaven National Laboratory), a definitive search for the short-lived HO di-baryon, a strangeness=−2, 6-quark object predicted by bag models. E896 also searches for other short-lived objects composed of strange hadrons that may be produced in high-energy nucleus-nucleus collisions. (2) STAR [Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC (Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider)] at the Brookhaven National Laboratory to study primordial matter at conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. Such matter is produced through central collisions of circulating beams of Au ions of momenta 100 GeV/c per nucleon (total center-of-momentum energy = 40 TeV). STAR searches for evidence of the formation of a quark-gluon plasma (a phase of nuclear matter in which quarks and gluons are not confined within nucleons or mesons) and for evidence of the restoration of the fundamental chiral symmetry of the strong interaction at high temperature. Both experiments explore the most fundamental physics and chemistry of nature as it may have existed during the early evolution of the Universe (about 10−7–10−6 seconds after the Big Bang).
C. Markert, C. Moore, P. Riley

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