Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics research in the department includes theoretical work on small molecules focusing on those of astrophysical interest, laboratory astrophysics investigating radiative processes in stellar atmospheres, and applied optical physics, providing advanced technology and analysis to infrared imaging.

Note that other research areas in the department, notably condensed matter physics and astrophysics, are deeply connected with atomic, molecular and optical physics.

In the theoretical effort, mathematical techniques are being developed which make it possible for the first time to obtain a very accurate representation of the excited states of diatomic molecules. These methods enable us to study very precisely the energy of small molecules as a function of interatomic distance and to study dynamical processes such as photoionization and molecular dissociation. (Morrison). The theory of radiative collisions is being applied to the atmospheres of cool dense stars. (Kielkopf).

Laboratory experimental work is directed toward precision measurements that test the accuracy of theoretical calculations of interatomic potentials, radiative transition rates, and spectral line shapes under well defined conditions. The laboratory facility includes extremely high resolution optical and vacuum ultraviolet spectrometers, as well as laser-plasma sources. The laboratory supports an intensive collaborative program with research groups in Electrical and Computer Engineering to develop near-infrared imaging devices with on-pixel processing. These devices have applications in adaptive optics for astronomy, remote sensing and surveillance (Kielkopf.)


Representative Publications

  • Self-Broadening of the Hydrogren Balmer-alpha Line, N.F. Allard, J.F. Kielkopf, R. Cayrel, and C. van't Veer-Menneret, Astron. Astrophysics, 480, 581-587 (2008).
  • Numerical Methods for Solving the Hartree-Fock Equations of Diatomic Molecules, J. Morrison, S. Boyd, L. Marsano, B. Bialecki, T. Ericsson, and J.P. Santos, accepted for publication Computer Physics Communications.