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Physics Research

Experimental and Theoretical Cosmology

PMA FacultyJames BockClifford CheungSunil GolwalaMark Wise, Kathryn Zurek

The observational cosmology group explores the structure and dynamics of the early universe using precise measurements of the cosmological microwave background radiation. The formation of the early galaxies is being probed using new 'intensity mapping' methods that trace galaxy clustering with dark matter.

Experimental Quantum Systems and Atomic/Molecular/Optical Physics

PMA Faculty: Manuel Endres, Nick Hutzler, Lee McCuller, Nelson Darkwah OppongOskar Painter, Michael Roukes, Maria Spiropulu
Engineering and Applied Sciences Faculty  :  Harry Atwater, Andrei FaraonAlireza Marandi, Kerry Vahala
Other Affiliated Faculty:  Lihong Wang

Experimental atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) research at Caltech focuses on controlling and understanding complex quantum systems for a wide variety of scientific goals. Current experiments include building arrays of ultracold atoms to study quantum information, metrology, many-body physics, and simulation of condensed matter systems; precision measurements in cold and ultracold polar molecules to search for fundamental symmetry violations; engineering atom-light interactions in photonic crystals; quantum physics of mechanical devices, hybrid superconducting quantum circuits, and optomechanical sensors; neurophotonics and neuromolecular sensing; development of quantum networks and communication and addressing fundamental questions in quantum information. Many of these research strands are collaborative efforts supported by the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter.

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Institute for Quantum Information and Matter

PMA FacultyRana AdhikariFernando Brandao,  Jason AliceaXie ChenYanbei ChenJim EisensteinManuel EndresDavid Hsieh,  Jeff KimbleAlexei KitaevOlexei I. MotrunichOskar PainterJohn PreskillGil RefaelTom RosenbaumNai-Chang Yeh

The Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) investigators span Caltech's departments of physics, applied physics, and computer science, and are interested in a wide spectrum of both experimental and theoretical research topics. These topics include, but are not limited to, quantum information science, quantum many-body physics in condensed matter and atomic gas systems, topological states of matter, quantum optics and light-matter interactions at the quantum level, quantum cavity-optomechanics, and quantum metrology.

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Quantum Information, Quantum and Condensed Matter

Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy (PMA) FacultyJason Alicea, Xie ChenManuel EndresDavid HsiehAlexei KitaevKen LibbrechtOlexei I. Motrunich, Nelson Darkwah OppongJohn PreskillGil RefaelTom RosenbaumMichael RoukesAxel Scherer, Daniel SilevitchLinda YeNai-Chang Yeh
Other Affiliated FacultySandra M. Troian

Quantum Information, Quantum and Condensed Matter research includes correlated electron systems, two-dimensional (2D) materials, nanomaterials, topological matter, nano-mechanical/electronic/photonic/optoelectronic systems, quantum devices, biosensors, phase transitions, atomic and excitonic Bose condensation, high-temperature superconductivity, quantum entanglement, dynamics of disordered systems, chaos, pattern formation, and systems far from equilibrium. Resources include numerous labs in the Caltech physics department, at the Kavli Nanoscience Institute and the Beckman Institute at Caltech, and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Quantum Optics and Information

PMA FacultyFernando BrandaoManuel EndresNick HutzlerJeff KimbleAlexei Kitaev, Nelson Darkwah OppongOskar Painter,  John Preskill
Other Affiliated FacultyLihong Wang

Research on campus and at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech includes studies of the nature of quantum computation and quantum information, cavity quantum electrodynamics, algorithms and error correction techniques in quantum computation, and generally how quantum physics can be harnessed to improve the acquisition, transmission, and processing of information.

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Experimental Elementary Particle Physics

PMA FacultyBertrand EchenardBrad FilipponeSunil GolwalaDavid HitlinNick HutzlerHarvey NewmanRyan PattersonFrank PorterMaria Spiropulu

Activities in the elementary particle physics group are aimed at understanding the fundamental constituents of matter and searching for signatures of physics beyond the Standard Model. Current experiments include CMS at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, directly probing electroweak symmetry breaking and potential new physics accessible at high energies; the NOvA and DUNE long-baseline neutrino experiments, exploring the physics of neutrino mass and mixing and searching for leptonic CP violation; the BABAR experiment at SLAC, searching for new physics in CP-violating and other rare processes in B meson and tau lepton decays; the Mu2e experiment at Fermilab, searching for charged lepton flavor violation; SuperCDMS at SNOLAB, reaching new sensitivities for direct detection of dark matter; and precision atomic/molecular/optical spectroscopic experiments with sensitivity to new sources of CP violation and other physics beyond the Standard Model.

Gravitational-wave Physics and Astrophysics

PMA Faculty: Rana Adhikari, Barry Barish,   Katerina ChatziioannouYanbei Chen , Lee McCuller, Elias Most Sterl Phinney ,  Tom Prince , David Reitze, Mark Scheel Saul Teukolsky Kip Thorne , Alan Weinstein

Observations from the LIGO and LISA projects seek to use gravitational radiation to study a variety of astrophysical sources. Theoretical studies are aimed at developing sensitive data analysis techniques and calculating G-wave signals from sources such as coalescing black holes and neutron stars.

Caltech is host to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Laboratory. The LIGO detectors made the first detection of gravitational-waves in 2015, and a number of others since. We explore what can be done with the signals from compact binaries, pulsars, supernovae, as well as the unknown. We are actively working to exploit the tools of precision measurement and quantum entanglement to reach out to the early universe.

Nuclear Physics

PMA FacultyBrad FilipponeNick Hutzler

The nuclear physics group is focused on performing precision nuclear physics measurements to search for physics beyond the Standard Model. Precision measurements of free neutron decay allow sensitive searches for deviations from the Standard Model, while measurements of the neutron electric dipole moment provide access to new sources of Charge-Parity (CP) violation and may help explain the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe.

Experimental and Observational Astrophysics

PMA FacultyJames Bock, Kareem El BadrySunil GolwalaFiona Harrison, George HelouAndrew Howard, Mansi KasliwalChris Martin, Richard Mewaldt, Stephen PadinTom PhillipsTom Prince, Jack SayersTom SoiferJonas Zmuidzinas

Research in this area covers a broad range of topics using observational tools covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

The high-energy astrophysics group at the Space Radiation Laboratory (SRL) uses X-ray and gamma-ray detectors aboard spacecraft and balloons to investigate energetic processes from compact astrophysical objects, including gamma-ray bursts from neutron-star and black-hole systems, supernova and hypernova dynamics, and the development of stars and galaxies in the early universe.

The cosmic ray group at SRL uses data from a variety of spacecraft to study the composition of energetic particles arriving from the sun, the local interstellar medium, and beyond, in order to understand the origin and acceleration of energetic particles in space.

The ultraviolet astronomy group uses satellite observations, such as from the GALEX spacecraft, to explore the ultraviolet sky. Studies include the birth and death of stars, galaxy dynamics and evolution, and other areas.

The submillimeter astronomy group studies star formation, interstellar gas, galaxies, and quasars using the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and other facilities. An active program is also under way to develop new superconducting detector technologies for use at these wavelengths, in collaboration with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The infrared astronomy group studies a host of astrophysical phenomena using Caltech's Palomar Observatory, the twin10-meter optical telescopes at the Keck Observatory, and observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Caltech also manages the Spitzer Science Center on campus.

The Experimental and Theoretical Cosmology  group (see above) explores the structure and dynamics of the early universe using precise measurements of the CMB, galaxy clustering, dark matter, and other probes.

Physical Biology

PMA FacultyRob PhillipsMichael Roukes
Other Affiliated FacultyMichael Dickinson ,  Michael Elowitz Lea Goentoro Markus Meister Lior Pachter Matt Thomson Sandra M. TroianLihong Wang

One of the most exciting frontier areas in modern physics is the study of living matter. Because of spectacular advances in technologies such as microscopy and DNA sequencing, it is now possible to have the kind of dialogue between theory and experiment in the study of living organisms that is the life blood of traditional physics. Research in physical biology at Caltech focuses on a broad array of topics ranging from the development of new technologies for single-cell mass spectrometry to the use of statistical mechanics to describing signaling and regulatory networks to quantitative approaches in neuroscience.

Theoretical Astrophysics

PMA FacultyYanbei Chen, Kareem El BadryJim FullerPhilip Hopkins, Elias MostSterl PhinneySaul TeukolskyKip Thorne

The TAPIR (Theoretical Astrophysics Including Relativity) group carries out research on an ever-changing list of topics, including high-energy astrophysics and the physics of black holes and neutron stars, gravitational-wave astrophysics,  stellar and planetary astrophysics,  cosmology, the formation of stars and galaxies in the early universe, and general relativity.

Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics

PMA FacultyClifford CheungSergei GukovAnton KapustinHirosi Ooguri, Michele Papucci,   David PolitzerJohn PreskillJohn SchwarzDavid Simmons-DuffinMark Wise, Kathryn Zurek

The particle theory group studies superstring theory, which is the most promising candidate for the ultimate unification of forces and matters including the gravity, properties of hadrons described by QCD, cosmology including dark matter and dark energy, and mathematical techniques in quantum field theory.

Physics Research Centers & Institutes

Center for Data-Driven Discovery (CD3)

The Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)

Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM)

Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS)

Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics

Space Radiation Laboratory (SRL)

Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics (WBITP)