Theoretical Physics at UVM SPS
Theoretical physicists study the mathematical models of physical entities to better describe and predict the phenomena of the surrounding world. Perhaps one of the most famous disciplines of physics (thanks to the works of such people as Einstein, Newton, and Feynman), it is also one of the most daunting. The theoretical physicist has to be both a natural scientist and a mathematician (and, in some cases, a programmer) to do his/her job well. Nevertheless, despite its reputation as the most difficult disciplines, it is also the most fulfilling; to be a theoretical physicist, one studies the very fiber of the universe, and the secrets of our existence might be just a few equations away...
At UVM, the vast majority of theoretical physicists specialize in what is known as condensed matter physics. Condensed matter physics focuses on the physical properties of condensed phases of matter. Quantum and statistical mechanics plays a huge part in this huge area of physics, as well as computer programming to accurately simulate the physical phenomena.
Below, you will find some of the SPS members currently engaged in theoretical research.
Peter K. Harnish, Mathematical Models of Graphene
Adviser: Dr. Valeri Kotov
Graphene is the first true 2-d material and exhibits some remarkable qualities. Being a single layer of carbon arranged like a honeycomb or chicken-wire, it has electronic properties that replicate relativistic behavior in normal lab conditions. Under Dr. Kotov, Peter and the rest of the Kotov Group are specializing on the effects of uni-axial strain on the these electronic properties. Using both analytical and computational methods, they are studying how these changes due to strain change factors such as van der Waals forces or band structure.
Joshuah T. Heath, Statistical Analysis of Condensed Matter Systems
Advisers: Dr. Adrian Del Maestro and Dr. Kenneth Golden
Joshuah Heath began research in 2012 under Prof. Adrian Del Maestro. His first project was to predict a ferromagnetic phase transition in the two-dimensional Ising and XY models using a Metropolis Monte Carlo algorithm, which he presented at a poster presentation at the 2013 Student Research Conference on April 23rd. The Metropolis code utilizes importance sampling of a lattice of atomic spins to predict spontaneous magnetization, which he compared with Onsager's exact solution (in the case of the Ising model) and a plot of the helicity modulus (in the case of the XY model). He is currently working with Prof. Golden on a mathematical investigation of nonlinear fluctuation-dissipation theorem and dielectric matrix relations for binary ionic mixture plasmas.
Last modified September 01 2013 06:00 PM