Faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy pursue vigorous research programs in several subfields of physics and astronomy.
Dedicated physics undergraduates may participate in cutting-edge research projects with a faculty mentor through our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program and the Richard Barber research program.
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that employs the principles of physics and chemistry to ascertain the nature of the astronomical objects, rather than their positions or motions in space.
- Atomic physics
Atomic (atom) physics is a field of physics that involves investigation of the structures of atoms, their energy states, and their interactions with other particles and electromagnetic radiation.
- Biomedical physics
Biomedical physics deals with applications of physics to questions of biology and medicine. It is an interdisciplinary field of science that involves the application of subspecialties of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer sciences for the growth and development of medical science and healthcare.
- Condensed-matter and material physics
Condensed-matter physics is a discipline that treats the thermal, elastic, electrical, magnetic, and optical properties of solid and liquid substances. Material physics is the use of physics to describe the physical properties of materials. It is a synthesis of physical sciences such as chemistry, solid mechanics, solid-state physics, and materials science.
- High energy particle physics
Particle physics is the study of the fundamental subatomic particles, including both matter (and antimatter) and the carrier particles of the fundamental interactions as described by quantum field theory. This branch of physics is concerned with structure and forces at this level of existence and below. The Department of Physics and Astronomy hosts research groups carrying out research in both experimental and theoretical particle physics.
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- Nuclear physics
Nuclear physics is the study of emergent collective phenomena that arises at the subatomic scale. Lying at the intersection between particle physics and condensed matter, nuclear physicists study novel phenomena at scales that range from quarks and gluons, the building blocks of protons and neutrons, to larger systems of atomic nuclei made up of nucleons. Along with static analyses such as the structure of the proton or nuclei, nuclear physicists study a whole host of dynamical phenomena that are both unique and universal in proton-nucleus and nucleus-nucleus collisions, stellar interiors, supernovae and the early universe. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Wayne State boasts the largest university-based group focussed on the study of ultra-relativistic nuclear collisions. Theoretical and experimental groups within the department study striking phenomena such as the inviscid fluid-like nature of the Quark-Gluon Plasma coupled with its opacity to energetic jets, and search for signals of parity violation, partonic vorticity, phase transitions and critical behavior at the boundary between quark matter and nuclear matter.
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Sponsors and funding agencies
The faculty gratefully acknowledge current and past support for research by the following funding agencies.