Astrophysics, gravity, and cosmology research focuses on understanding astrophysical phenomena, general relativity (and its extensions), and the evolution of the Universe. UVA faculty specialize in using gravitational waves from binaries of black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs to learn about fundamental physics, including the predictions of Einstein's general relativity, extreme states of matter, and the expansion history of the Universe.
Atomic, molecular, and optical physics focuses on the fundamental quantum nature of atoms, molecules, and light, and the control of their properties and behavior for a wide variety of applications. UVA faculty lead research projects that span the major current areas of interest in the field, including ultracold atoms, quantum optics, quantum measurement, quantum computation and simulation, quantum control, and attosecond science.
Theoretical condensed matter research aims to understand novel emergent phenomena of interacting many-particle systems. Our research groups work on a wide variety of cutting-edge topics including the entanglement and topological properties of many-body quantum systems, transport and other dynamical properties of topological and functional materials, macroscopic quantum phenomena such as superfluidity and superconductivity, and multi-scale dynamical modeling of correlated electron materials.
Mathematical physics seeks to apply rigorous mathematical methods to physical problems to enrich both disciplines. In particular, some critical questions in physics cannot be reliably addressed using approximate numerical or perturbative methods and therefore pose a challenge where rigorous methods may be the best way forward. Examples of such work in our department include rigorous proofs of stability for topological phases of matter, the direction of fluctuating forces such as the Casimir force, and various properties of systems with high entanglement, where numerical methods are particularly limited.
Quantum information science aims at developing technology whose operation is governed by quantum rules, such as, for example, the detection noise floor in a quantum sensor such as LIGO. At the other end of the complexity spectrum, quantum simulation and quantum computing promise exponential speedups for classically intractable physics problems. Our department conducts both experimental and theoretical research in quantum information science.