Research - Department of Physics - Colorado School of Mines

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Research

Learn more about the research that faculty in the Department of Physics are doing.

Condensed Matter Physics

ADVANCED MATERIALS, MATERIALS CHARACTERIZATION, AND NANOSCALE PHYSICS

We focus on the basic physics of new materials. These include nanostructures, novel and disordered solids, and "soft" condensed matter — polymers, bio-molecules and liquid crystals. We overlap strongly with renewable energy; our condensed matter theory group is listed under theoretical and computational physics.

Research by faculty at Mines

  • Scott Bradley: Optoelectronics, novel organic materials, excition-polariton devices, single photon detectors, device physics
  • Reuben T. Collins: Condensed matter physics semiconductor science; electronic and optical properties; photovoltaic materials and devices
  • Thomas E. Furtak: Optical properties of surfaces, interfaces, and thin-films; Raman scattering; ellipsometry; nonlinear optical methods; photovoltaic and electronic materials; liquid crystals and soft condensed matter
  • Lakshmi Krishna: Electronic materials — synthesis and sharacterization, fundamental relationship between structure of materials and their optical and electronic properties
  • Timothy R. Ohno: Surface physics, thin film epitaxial growth, interfacial properties, photovoltaic materials, and catalysis
  • John A. Scales: Application of optical and RF techniques to materials characterization; wave propagation in random media; laser ultrasonics; millimeter wave and ultrasonic spectroscopy; remote sensing, with applications to landmine detection; mesoscopic phenomena, including quantum chaos, amorphous materials and nonequilibrium statistical mechanics
  • Adele Tamboli: Semiconductor-light interaction for renewable energy and energy efficiency; novel inorganic photovoltaic materials and top cell materials for Si-based tandem cells
  • Craig Taylor: Optical, electronic and structural properties of crystalline and amorphous semiconductors; localized electronic states in amorphous semiconductors; electronic instabilities in films of hydrogenated amorphous silicon and related alloys; electronic properties of III-V semiconducting nanostructures; ordering in ternary III-V alloys
  • Eric Toberer: Electronic, thermal, and optical properties of semiconductors; novel semiconductor materials; photovoltaic materials
  • Don Williamson: X-ray diffraction; small-angle X-ray scattering; mossbauer spectroscopy
  • Jeramy Zimmerman: Condensed matter physics, photovoltaics, semiconductor interfaces, small molecule organic electronics

Research by faculty located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

  • Matthew Beard: Semiconductor nanocrystals, multiple exciton generation, ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy
  • David Ginley: Nanomaterials and nanotechnology; transition metal oxides including high temperature superconductors; organic electronics; Li ion battery materials; organic electronics; ferroelectric materials.
  • Pauls Stradins: Nanostructured semiconductor materials for photovoltaics; thin film silicon photovoltaics; photoactivated phenomena in materials
  • Qi Wang: High-efficiency c-Si heterojunction solar cells, Thin-film Si solar cells, diodes, memory devices, and TFTs, High-throughput thin-film deposition methods and characterization tools
  • Xiuwen Zhang: High-throughput search for new solar-energy conversion materials, Electronic and doping properties of new materials, Genetic Algorithm based crystal-structure search

Subatomic Physics

From the Nucleus to the Universe

One activity of the subatomic physics group aims at understanding the fundamentals behind the stability of nuclei. On the energy scale, these studies are located in the Mega electron volt (MeV) range. Fourteen orders of magnitude higher on this scale lies the other activity of the group, the study of the highest energy particles in nature, which are found in some cosmic rays. These particles have Joules of energy, a unit that is usually associated with macroscopic objects, such as pitched baseballs.

Faculty research

  • Edward Cecil: Low-energy applied experimental nuclear physics
  • Uwe Greife: Nuclear astrophysics, applied nuclear physics
  • Kyle Leach: Electroweak interactions, nuclear astrophysics, nuclear structure
  • James A. McNeil: Theoretical nuclear physics; relativistic approaches to nucleon and nuclear structure and scattering.
  • Frederic Sarazin: Low-energy nuclear structure and astrophysics with radioactive beams; ultra-high energy cosmic-rays with the Pierre Auger observatory
  • Lawrence Wiencke: High-energy astroparticle physics with the Pierre Auger Observatory (Argentina) and the planned JEM-EUSO detector (International Space Station); development and application of innovative laser "test beam" systems for cosmic ray observatories; atmospheric science and transient luminous events

Subatomic Physics Group homepage

Optical Physics

Optics, Quasi-Optics and Quantum Electronics

The Department of Physics at Mines features state-of-the-art, world-class optics laboratories. These facilities enable the generation and control of electromagnetic waves spanning the range from X-rays to millimeter-waves. Our sources are used to explore a broad range of fundamental phenomena, such as high intensity laser-matter interactions, molecular dynamics in biological systems and mesoscale phenomena, as well as applied technologies including femtosecond micromachining, nonlinear optical microscopy, and materials characterization.

Faculty research

  • Charles G. Durfee: Laser physics and ultrafast optical phenomena
  • P. David Flammer: Computational electromagnetic theory
  • Frank Kowalski: Laser physics; frequency shifted feedback lasers and applications of lasers to precision measurements
  • Susanta Sarkar: Single-molecule biophysics, biomedical imaging, collagen degradation
  • John A. Scales: Application of optical and RF techniques to materials characterization; wave propagation in random media; quantum chaos; mesoscopic phenomena, including Anderson Localization
  • Jeff Squier: Development of novel ultrafast laser sources with application to high-speed, three-dimensional multiphoton microscopy, and femtosecond micromachining with application toward rapid prototyping of lab-on-a-chip devices and specialized laser surgeries

Renewable Energy Physics

Working Toward a Sustainable Energy Future

Much of the research in the Department of Physics is motivated by the need to find alternatives to conventional fossil energy sources. Faculty are involved with a wide range of projects, from third generation photovoltaics to artificial photosynthesis. Many of these projects are organized under the Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (REMRSEC).

Research by faculty at Mines

  • Joe Beach: Solar photovoltaic electricity generation; thin film CdTe cells; silicon nanostructures, particularly nanowires
  • Reuben T. Collins: Condensed matter physics of semiconductor devices; electronic and optical properties; photovoltaic materials; silicon nanostructures; organic solar cells
  • Charles Durfee: Novel laser designs; applications of ultrafast optical pulses; characterization of nanostructures and other materials
  • Thomas Furtak: Optical properties of solids, interfaces, and nanostructures; silicon nanostructures; organic solar cells; Raman and infrared spectroscopies; nonlinear optics
  • Lakshmi Krishna: Electronic materials — synthesis and characterization; fundamental relationship between structure of materials and their optical and electronic properties
  • Mark Lusk: Electronic structure; emergent phenomena, quantum transport; photon-matter interactions, opto-electronics; quantum many-body theory, entanglement, topological disorder
  • Timothy R. Ohno: Surface physics; thin film epitaxial growth; interfacial properties; photovoltaic materials; catalysis
  • Jeff Squier: Nonlinear optics; ultrafast laser phenomena; novel microscopy; biological imaging
  • Vladan Stevanovic: Computational solid-state physics in application to novel materials for renewable energy (solar absorbers, transparent conductors, thermoelectrics), materials thermodynamics and thermochemistry, properties of surfaces and interfaces
  • Adele Tamboli: Semiconductor-light interaction for renewable energy and energy efficiency; novel inorganic photovoltaic materials and top cell materials for Si-based tandem cells
  • Craig Taylor: Optical, electronic and structural properties of crystalline and amorphous semiconductors; localized electronic states in amorphous semiconductors; electronic instabilities in films of hydrogenated amorphous silicon and related alloys; electronic properties of III-V semiconducting nanostructures; ordering in ternary III-V alloys
  • David Wood: Computational condensed-matter physics; novel semiconductor alloys; transparent conducting oxides
  • Zhigang Wu: Computational materials science; nanoscale materials; energy conversion and storage
  • Jeramy Zimmerman: Condensed matter physics, photovoltaics, semiconductor interfaces, small molecule organic electronics

Research by faculty at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

  • Matthew Beard: Semiconductor nanocrystals, multiple exciton generation, ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy
  • Alberto Franceschetti: Solid state theory; electronic and optical properties of semiconductor alloys; nanostructures and superlattices
  • David Ginley: Nanomaterials and nanotechnology; transition metal oxides including high temperature superconductors; organic electronics; Li ion battery materials; organic electronics; ferroelectric materials
  • Dana Olson: Hybrid organic/inorganic photovoltaics; organic electronics
  • Pauls Stradins: Nanostructured semiconductor materials for photovoltaics; thin film silicon photovoltaics; photoactivated phenomena in materials
  • Qi Wang: High-efficiency c-Si heterojunction solar cells, Thin-film Si solar cells, diodes, memory devices, and TFTs, High-throughput thin-film deposition methods and characterization tools
  • Xiuwen Zhang: High-throughput search for new solar-energy conversion materials, electronic and doping properties of new materials, genetic algorithm-based crystal-structure search

Theoretical and Computational Physics

Expertise in theoretical physics at Mines encompasses a wide range of analytical and computational techniques for solving problems in condensed matter, subatomic, optical, and renewable energy physics. Specific areas of interest among our theory faculty include quantum information theory, density functional theory, solid state theory, quantum many body theory, nucleon structure theory and relativistic quantum mechanics, string theory. Many of the theoretical projects involve high performance computing that is accomplished through the Golden Energy Computing Organization (GECO).

Faculty research at Mines

  • James Bernard: Computational solid-state physics; novel semiconductor materials and structures; semiconductor alloys; properties of surfaces and interfaces
  • Lincoln D. Carr: Quantum many-body physics; ultracold atomic and molecular quantum gases: quantum phase transitions; strongly correlated states; macroscopic quantum tunneling and quantum transport; complexity; chaos and fractals; solitons, vortices, and nonlinear waves
  • Mark Coffey: Investigations of new application areas of quantum information science and the physical constraints and limits on computation. Investigations in mathematical physics including special function theory and inverse problems
  • P. David Flammer: Computational electromagnetics (electromagnetic wave propagation simulation combined with charge transport or other simulation) with various applications such as nanophotonics, nanoplasmonics, enhanced solar cells, electro-optic modulation, THz detection, biosensing, chiral materials, and polarization control
  • Alex Flournoy: Fundamental and phenomenological problems in string theory including nongeometric backgrounds, tachyonic instabilities, nonperturbative formulations and generalized geometry.
  • Mark Lusk: Electronic structure; Emergent phenomena, quantum transport; photon-matter interactions, opto-electronics; quantum many-body theory, entanglement, topological disorder
  • James A. McNeil: Theoretical nuclear physics; relativistic approaches to nucleon and nuclear structure and scattering
  • John A. Scales: Application of optical and RF techniques to materials characterization. Wave propagation in random media; laser ultrasonics; millimeter wave and ultrasonic spectroscopy. Remote sensing, with applications to landmine detection. Mesoscopic phenomena, including quantum chaos, amorphous materials and nonequilibrium statistical mechanics
  • Vladan Stevanovic: Computational solid-state physics in application to novel materials for renewable energy (solar absorbers, transparent conductors, thermoelectrics), materials thermodynamics and thermochemistry, properties of surfaces and interfaces
  • David M. Wood: Computational condensed-matter physics; new semiconductors; first- principles phonon calculations
  • Zhigang Wu: First-principles electronic structures, nanoscale physics, energy materials, superconductivity, high-pressure physics, ferroelectricity and multiferroics

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