The Department of Physics and Astronomy is responsible for administering physics and astronomy curricula and physics research. The department offers a broad range of upper division and graduate courses in the major astronomy and physics sub-disciplines: astrophysics, cosmology, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, optics, theoretical physics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, solid state physics, particle physics, and statistical physics. Departmental expertise lies in the area of high energy physics, specifically theoretical and experimental work on elementary particles, gamma rays, field theory, and string theory, in condensed matter (solid state) physics, and in astronomy. There is little emphasis on atomic or nuclear physics.
The research programs in physics specialize in elementary particle physics, condensed matter physics and most recently free-electron laser physics. The Elementary Particle Research Group conducts experimental research at Fermilab, the Stanford Linear Collider, various National Laboratories and in Hawaii. It focuses on theoretical work in both collider physics and non-accelerator phenomenology, including the search for physics beyond the Standard Model, neutrino oscillators, supersymmetry and superstring model building, as well as the more established areas of hadron spectroscopy.
The department's condensed matter physics program is widely known for both its theoretical and experimental work. Research specialties include liquid crystals, high temperature superconductivity, photoemission, the physics of surfaces, and low-temperature physics.
The Free-Electron Laser (FEL) Group focuses on: physics of the FEL interaction; non-classical nature of FEL radiation - squeezing; optical phase-locking of GHz-rate picosecond pulse trains; generation of tunable, high power single-mode radiation; ultra-sensitive remote sensing and ultrahigh-resolution linear absorption spectroscopy based on dark field detection; Doppler-free nonlinear spectroscopy and Doppler-limited absorption spectroscopy; X-ray generation by e-beam scattering of passively stored optical radiation; optical pulse compression, pulse shaping and diagnostics; photo-chemistry and surface science; optical resonator design; infared optical fiber propagation; and medical research - hard- and soft- tissue-laser interactions.
The University has long considered astronomy an area of excellence. Research programs in astronomy are administered through the Institute of Astronomy. Because Hawaii is a premier observation site, the institute has a wide range of observation facilities on Haleakala (for satellite and lunar ranging studies) and on Mauna Kea (for planetary, stellar, extragalactic, and infrared studies), some developed in cooperation with other institutions, agencies, or countries.
The research interests of the astronomy faculty and the Institute staff include the sun, stellar astronomy, infrared astronomy, planetary astronomy, extragalactic astronomy, and backup engineering support for research programs.
Because of the availability of the Institute for Astronomy Library, Hamilton Library provides only selected materials in astronomy. The Institute's library totals 2400 volumes, 50 journal subscriptions, receives a considerable number of observatory publications on exchange, and maintains a reprint collection of about 10,000 items. This library supports the Institute of Astronomy in Honolulu and the observatories on the other islands. Historically, astronomy researchers have relied on Hamilton Library for long runs of journals, particularly those of a general and interdisciplinary nature, for materials in physics, mathematics, optics, and instrumentation.
There is considerable overlap between physics and engineering, and materials in more applied acoustics, mechanics, and similar subjects are referred to the engineering selector.
Physics and astronomy research programs are funded by federal grants in excess of six million dollars a year. The Institute for Astronomy is moving part of their operation to UH Hilo. The new facility will have a library. When negotiating contracts for online resources, access for the Hilo faculty will be included as possible.
Date compiled: 7/01 Compiler: Kristen L. Anderson