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Facilities for Research in Physics at UC Davis

For a graduate student, access to cutting edge research facilities and instrumentation offers the very real possibility of probing new physics.This new physics knows no boundaries, and the possibilites are limited only by the innovative questions we ask. The universe itself is now a laboratory for the exploration of fundamental physics: recent discoveries have strengthened the connections between fundamental symmetries, the basic forces of nature, and the structure and evolution of the universe. New measurements will test the foundations of cosmology and help determine the nature of dark matter and dark energy, which make up 95 percent of the mass-energy of the universe. Answers to such basic questions about the fundamental properties of matter require next-generation facilities and bold new experimental and theoretical approaches using techniques of complex systems, condensed matter, biophysics, astrophysics, particle, nuclear, and gravitational physics.

Facilities serve entire communities, from large groups to single investigators. Even the power of smaller instrumentation has grown to the point where single investigators working together with their students can change how we think about the world. The promise of advanced instrumentation can be best understood by looking at current explorations. Intense synchrotron light and neutron facilities advance our understanding of high-Tc materials and the molecular structure of biological systems. New instruments have provided the means by which researchers have been able to explore regimes of time and space unimagined just a few years ago.  Higher energy and intensity accelerators and new astrophysical observatories are planned that will probe nature at extremes ranging from 10-18 cm to 10+28 cm. Femtosecond lasers now examine the making and breaking of specific chemical bonds; and new microscopies, such as atomic force microscopes, are opening up the viewing of individual atoms and molecules.

At UC Davis our students have access to a wide range of physics research facilities including massive parallel computation facilities for data analysis and visualization. Elementary particle experiments such as CDF at Fermilab and CMS at CERN explore the innermost structure of matter. Soon the new collider at CERN, the LHC, will provide an unprecedented probe for new physics at the energy frontier – producing giant datasets for searches for the Higgs, supersymmetry and extra dimensions.

 

Condensed matter facilities include the high brightness synchrotron radiation facility at the Advanced Light Source and Center for Electron Microscopy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; secondary ion mass spectroscopy and high pressure diamond anvil cell at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. These probe the nature of materials and complicated molecules and biological structures.  Laboratory atomic force microscopes probe the strange world of 2-d structures on surfaces. 

Optical, Infrared, and Radio astronomy facilities illuminate the nature of our universe:  the 10-meter Keck telescopes in Hawaii, Lick Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, NOAO telescopes in Arizona and Chile, the Gemini adaptive optics telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, the Spitzer IR satellite, the Chandra and XMM X-ray satellites, and the Very Large Array in New Mexico.  The Deep Lens Survey is producing the first tomographic mass maps of our universe, and a new facility, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, will probe the nature of the mysterious Dark Energy.   

 

Our view of the high-energy universe is being extended by MAGIC and CACTUS Cherenkov gamma-ray telescopes. Finally, the STAR experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven explores conditions similar to the first moments of our universe.

As a graduate student at UC Davis you will have the opportunity to collaborate in the exploration of nature using any of these state-of-the-art facilities.

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