The Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Chemical Physics group studies the interactions between and the manipulation of atoms, molecules, electrons and photons at low temperatures and low energies.
Current specific research areas in theory and experiment include chemical reaction dynamics, the physics of ultra-cold atoms and molecules, low-energy elastic and threshold inelastic scattering of charged particles, orientation and alignment effects, the determination of potential energy surfaces, the study of atoms in magnetic and optical fields, the precision measurement of fundamental constants, the creation of more accurate and precise atomic clocks, and the generation of quantum states of light. These topics touch on many of the most important problems in physics today, such as quantum computing and quantum simulations, tests of the standard model, quantum control, and the pursuit of ever better time and frequency standards.
A large fraction of our experimental work is carried out in laboratories in Nielsen Hall. Students who choose to concentrate on experimental research work on cutting edge techniques with state-of-the-art equipment,
frequency and temperature stabilization and control. Narrow line width diode lasers are used for cooling and trapping; multiple pulsed dye lasers and pseudo continuous ultraviolet laser radiation are used in experiments designed to create ultra-cold molecules. A variety of advanced laser systems and vacuum technologies are used to investigate gases of ultracold Rydberg atoms and create entangled states of material particles. Small wires on a chip, referred to as an atom chip, are used to trap atoms so that their interactions with a surface can be studied and utilized to construct hybrid quantum systems of atoms and surface excitations. Vapor cells and coherent multi-photon spectroscopy are used to detect small electric fields by using collections of atoms as quantum sensors. A solid-state picosecond laser is combined with frequency stabilized diode laser radiation and microwave radiation to create an ultra-sensitive probe of molecular electric and magnetic dipole moments. Finally, narrow line width solid state lasers and atomic vapor cells are used to generate entangled states of light for applications in quantum information and quantum metrology. This broad spectrum of experimental opportunities provides students with the training necessary to pursue careers in academia, government labs and service, and industry.
Students choosing to focus on theoretical research have many options including formal mathematical topics, very accurate and well designed physical models and large scale computational physics. Our theoretical research is at the forefront and covers a broad spectrum of current research areas (atomic physics, molecular physics, statistical physics, laser-matter interactions, chemical physics, and many-body strongly correlated systems).
Our computational facilities include an extensive network of powerful computer workstations, which are freely shared among members of the department. When additional computational resources are needed the OU supercomputer was recently ranked as the 14th most powerful supercomputer at a U.S. academic institution. These facilities are used in several experimental contexts and in theoretical research such as ongoing study of processes fundamental ultracold collision physics, coherent-control, Rydberg molecules, and large-scale Quantum Monte Carlo simulations of strongly correlated systems.
Since its inception, our group has been regularly funded by such sources as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the American Chemical Society, and the Department of Defense. In addition, various members of the group participate in long-term collaborations with scientists from Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Russia, the United Kingdom, and various laboratories and universities in the United States. A highlight of the program is a regular, intensive agenda of visits and colloquia by outside members of the atomic, molecular and chemical physics community, including our many collaborators.