From the Chair
Welcome to the Department of Physics & Astronomy
We are beings who want, seek, and create understanding and knowledge with the same intensity that drives us to gather food, seek shelter and come together in love. Physics & Astronomy have always been the bedrock of our understanding of the Universe, our place in it and the laws and patterns that govern our lives, our surroundings and the world around us.
Here at KU our faculty conducts research that reflects the breadth and depth of natural phenomena on both fundamental and applied directions and on all physical scales, from the Planck (the smallest possible) scale to the Hubble (the observable Universe) horizon.
We study the fundamental interactions of elementary particles, both theoretically and experimentally. Our faculty is on the team that recently discovered the Higgs particle, and we have graduate students and postdocs currently in Geneva Switzerland at CERN, in Fermilab in Illinois, and in Brookhaven NY doing research. We also are involved with neutrino research, capturing and studying extraterrestrial neutrinos in Antarctica, Siberia and Utah.
We are deeply engaged in applied physics research focusing on energy, nanoscience and technology, quantum computation using superconducting qubits and ultra-fast lasers. Our faculty is engaged in the development of semiconductor electronics, spintronics and photonics, material research and applications in low-diminutional nanostructures and devices such as photonic and plasmonic graphene, carbon nanotube and nanodetectors and high-frequency electronics, optoelectronics and nanoelectromechnical systems.
We investigate the heavens, the Solar System, our Galaxy and its content, extragalactic phenomena such as galaxy evolution across most of cosmic time, galaxy clusters and the large-scale structure and geometry of the Universe. We use telescopes, both ground and space based and we have instruments on NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn and Titan. We are also partners with San Diego State University in the construction of the 1.25m Phillips Claud telescope at Mt. Laguna Observatory, 45 miles east of San Diego. We have an active plasma astrophysics program researching both solar system and cosmological phenomena.
We conduct extensive interdisciplinary research in astrobiophysics, specifically the impact of high-energy astrophysical events on the Earth, its atmosphere, and life forms over geologic times.
We have an active biophysics program that collaborates extensively with researchers from KU Medical Center and various other KU departments and centers investigating DNA structure, flexibility and dynamics to further both fundamental and medical understanding of the behavior of DNA molecules under varied conditions.
Please roam around our departmental pages to find information about our undergraduate and graduate programs, or any other aspect you find interesting. Whether you are a prospective student at any level, an alum of the Department, a student enrolled in a course within the Department, or simply a person curious about Physics and Astronomy, I hope you spend some time looking over what is available within the site. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via email or by using the response forms contained throughout the site.
Chris Fischer, Chair