Research

Astrophysics

lagoongreen smRutgers astronomers pursue some of the most exciting questions in physics today through active observational and theoretical programs. Projects include searches for the nature and distribution of dark matter, attempts to determine the expansion rate and density of the universe, the origin, evolution, and nature of large galaxy clusters, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and the formation of the elements in supernovae. Objects of study range from "nearby" globular star clusters in our own Galaxy to the most remote galaxies and quasars whose light paths are distorted by the gravitational lensing effect of mass concentrations along the line of sight. Observers and theorists in the group interact closely, and many recent student theses result from both theoretical and observational projects.

 

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Condensed Matter Theory

lagoongreen smThe Rutgers faculty in condensed matter theory have interests spanning many areas including: highly-correlated electron phenomena, such as high-temperature superconductivity, magnetism and heavy-fermion physics; physics at surfaces, including dynamic phenomena and electronic and geometrical structure; quantum liquids; equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics; breakdown phenomena in disordered materials; first-principles calculations of electronic and structural properties; phase transitions and critical phenomena; semiconductor physics; quantum statistical mechanics and field theory; thermodynamics, transport and localization in disordered systems. There is also a strong mathematical physics effort at Rutgers, centered primarily on rigorous results in statistical mechanics and quantum field theory.

 

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Condensed Matter Experimental

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Experimental research on condensed matter physics at Rutgers has a long and distinguished history. The physics department is named after Bernard Serin, who in 1950 discovered the isotope effect in superconductors.

Continuing this tradition, the condensed matter experimental (CMX) group is pursuing a vigorous research program on topics at the forefront of modern condensed matter physics. Specifically, the group is actively working on: the synthesis of novel materials, the dynamics of vortex matter, quantum transport and interactions in mesoscopic conductors, the metal-insulator transition and correlated-electron effects, low dimensional quantum magnets, quantum fluids and solids, two-dimensional electron systems, sonoluminescence, colossal magneto-resistance, ferroelectricity, magnetism, and forefront x-ray characterization studies. Several of the condensed matter group are also members of the Laboratory for Surface Modification (see more about LSM) and conduct research at the atomic level in the physics and chemistry of surfaces, interfaces, and thin films, including electronic and structural properties, dynamical processes, and surface catalysis. Our CMX and LSM laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art instruments that give access to ultra-low temperatures, ultra-high vacuum, high magnetic fields, and atomic-resolution imaging.

Many active collaborations with members of related departments (especially Chemistry and Engineering departments) are ongoing. In addition, several members of the group have strong connections with such national facilities as Brookhaven National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory and make use of X-ray and neutron scattering facilities at these laboratories.

 

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High Energy Theory

hetstringTheoretical particle physics has advanced its frontiers enormously in recent years. The success of the Weinberg-Salam model of electroweak interactions, culminating in the recent discovery of the W+- and Z , has led to efforts to find a unified theory including quantum chromodynamics and perhaps general relativity as well. A theory of all interactions and particles usually has far-reaching implications, for instance, predicting proton decay, and affecting the development of the universe in the first few moments after the big bang. Thus particle physics now relates to problems in cosmology, such as galaxy formation and the observed predominance of matter over anti-matter. The most ambitious of these unified theories-- superstrings--is being intensively studied at Rutgers, which has one of the strongest particle theory groups in the world. Other problems, such as developing methods to study non- abelian gauge theories in nonperturbative regimes, electroweak baryogenisis, and computational methods, are also being studied. Advances in the understanding of field theory have yielded techniques and predicted phenomena which are relevant to mathematics, statistical mechanics, and condensed matter physics.

 

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High Energy Experimental

People involved with Experimental High Energy PhysicsHigh Energy Physics seeks to answer questions about the smallest units of matter. Our current understanding is that everything in the universe is built up from fundamental particles called quarks and leptons, which interact via the exchange of field particles such as the photon (responsible for the electromagnetic force), the Weak Bosons, W and Z (the weak nuclear force), and the gluon (the strong nuclear force).

The singular achievement of High Energy Physics, The Standard Model explains all our observations so far in a simple and straighforward way, much as Mendeleev's Periodic Table did in the 19th century.

There are many questions that the Standard Model leaves unanswered, or partially answered. Quantites like mass and charge are assigned empirically. We have no idea why there are so many quarks and leptons (while the entire stable universe is built from the two lightest quarks, and lightest charged lepton -- the electron). We do not quite understand why the universe came to be dominated by matter (the Standard Model treats matter and antimatter nearly equally).

Answering these questions requires probing matter at very small distances. This requires very high energies. Our work inevitably centers around large particle accelerator centers such as Fermilab in Batavia IL and CERN in Switzerland.

 

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Nuclear Physics

nuclearATraditional nuclear physics describes nuclear properties in terms of protons and neutrons. Most nuclei are well described as nucleons interacting either through empirical interactions in the shell model, or through a force derived from nucleon-nucleon scattering.

Modern nuclear physics has much greater ambitions. New insights are gained into conventional descriptions by studying nuclei with much larger neutron, or proton excesses, and by investigating nuclei with high spin. Reactions with intermediate-energy mesons and electromagnetic probes provide insight into the quark substructure of the individual composite particles, the high momentum structure of nuclei, and the transition between current-quark, constituent-quark, and meson-baryon degrees of freedom. Relativistic-heavy-ion experiments will soon attempt to recreate the quark-gluon plasma, not present since the first seconds after the creation of the universe many billions of years ago.

The Rutgers University nuclear physics experimentalists and theorists have a broad range of interests, that cover most of the topics above, intersecting the interests of high energy physicists and astrophysicists. You can learn more about the experimental and theoretical research activities.

 

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Biological Physics

biomapsIn recent years, the nature and volume of biological data is driving a revolution in how biology is done. The activities range from understanding individual molecule to studying evolution of complex multicellular organisms. Our group focuses on such "multi-scale" phenomena that drives research at the fertile junction between biophysics, bioinformatics, systems biology, and theoretical evolutionary biology.

 

 

 

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Physics Education

NVTech busi2503Physics and Astronomy Education Research (PAER) is devoted to studying how students learn and searching for ways to help them learn better. Recognizing the special difficulties that learning physics entails requires a great depth of subject knowledge, so much of this research can be done only by physicists in physics departments. The Rutgers' PAER group, consisting of a number of physicists in the department together with members of the graduate programs in Education and Math, are investigating more effective cognitive approaches, with emphasis on investigation, evaluation, representation, and linguistic issues. We are also doing work on technological innovation in physics teaching.

The group has also long been involved in developing innovative teaching environments. This has included Keller-type self-paced courses, minilabs, a hands-on Physics Learning Center, and the use of student response systems,

Our group founded the Extended Physics programs for engineering and science majors. These courses have had nearly two decades of success helping underrepresented groups succeed in the science and engineering programs. We continue to develop methods conducive to enhancing the the degree completion rate of women and underrepresented minorities.

 

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