Physics at Virginia

Astrophysics, Gravity and Cosmology

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

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.

Biological and Medical Physics

This field is devoted to the study and modeling of the interaction of radiation in biological tissue. This is applied in radiation therapy where radiation is used to treat cancers, and in diagnostic radiology where we create images. Current research includes modeling immune cell modulation with radiation, predicting radiation related toxicity to healthy tissue via image analysis, and much more.

Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Condensed matter physics explores nature in its liquid and solid forms and addresses questions on the emergent interactions of electrons and atoms. At UVA, the experimental condensed matter physicists address problems relating to advanced quantum materials, including topological insulators and semimetals, superconductivity, extreme magnetoresistive oxides and semimetals, amorphous alloys, hybrid perovskites for batteries and skyrmions, to name a few.

Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics

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

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.

Nuclear and Particle Physics

The nuclear physics group carries out research in the low to medium-energy range at national and international facilities, including JLab, ORNL, FNAL, PSI, and the future EIC. Two main thrusts of the group are testing of the fundamental symmetries of the Standard Model and studying the nucleon and the nuclear structure and quantum chromodynamics. The group is also leading major instrumentation efforts such as detector upgrades at JLab, maintaining and upgrading polarized targets for JLab and FNAL, and detector R&D for the EIC.

Experimental High Energy Physics

Experimental high-energy physics focuses on experiments that probe the building blocks of our universe and how those building blocks interact. Our researchers use beams of charged and neutral particles to produce exotic forms of matter and ultra-rare processes. The identification and detailed study of these phenomena can help us understand important open questions we have about the origin, condition, and fate of our universe.

Theoretical High Energy Physics

Theoretical high-energy physics is dedicated to the study of fundamental particles and their interactions. This research spans quantum field theories at extremely high temperatures such as in the early Universe or relativistic heavy ion colliders, jets in plasmas, physics beyond the Standard Model, searching for new particles, aspects of string theory and holography, and probing extra dimensions.

Quantum Information

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.