Current Research Projects

Liquid Crystal Research

Students study the fundamental physical properties of materials. The electronic properties are measured using capacitance and inductance measurement techniques which probe the dielectric and magnetic susceptibility. The students determine the phase transitions by plotting these values as a function of temperature. Optical microscopy, fluorescence and optical scattering measurements are also used to further investigate phase transitions. Currently, we are developing a four-wave mixing experiment in order to probe relaxation times down to 100ns.

Computational Condensed Matter

The computational condensed matter research at UWF is focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms responsible for the physics of a variety of complex materials. Primarily, the research is aimed at topological insulators, strongly correlated electronic systems, frustrated quantum magnets, and ultra-cold atomic gases. Additional information about the research in this area can be found at Dr. Varney's personal webpage.

Laser Spectroscopy & Laser Physics

Laser Spectroscopy is widely used to analyze the properties of many materials. However, the field faces many new technological and methodological advances. In order to understand and contribute to the new challenges we have built a combined laser Fluorescence, Raman, and CARS spectrometer. The system is being used for molecular structural investigations.

Dye lasers are very useful, relatively cheap devices to study the basics of laser physics and generate short narrow band optical pulses. We have constructed a variety of distributed feedback dye lasers and measured the physical properties of them. Several new type of optical configurations are being explored.

Physics Education

Understanding how students learn is essential to good teaching. In particular, it is necessary to understand how the demographics in the physical sciences learn here at UWF as we have many non-traditional students. The Physics Education group probes student learning and works to develop and implement innovative pedagogies. Our current focus is on Studio style teaching and we have completed implementing Studio Physics I with Calculus. Currently, we are developing a Studio Style Physics II with Calculus course.