On-campus facilities within the Old Dominion University Physics Department include modern laboratories in materials science, surface science, continuous wave and pulsed laser spectroscopy, electron spectroscopy, atomic beams and laser cooling, gamma ray spectroscopy, nuclear physics and particle detector development. These laboratories are equipped with a variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation including fast electronic and computer-based data acquisition systems, pulsed and cw narrow-band spectrometers, high and low temperature Mossbauer spectrometers, a X-ray diffractometer, and high resolution particle detectors.
Graduate student research is emphasized as a critical component of the continuing education programs at Old Dominion University. Guided by our renowned international faculty members, the Physics Department offers graduate students several broad research areas to work in both on and off campus.
Nuclear & Particle Physics
More than a dozen faculty perform research in experimental and theoretical nuclear and particle physics. Our research is concentrated at the nearby Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, one of the top nuclear physics laboratories in the world. We use Jefferson Lab's 12 GeV electron beam to study how quarks and gluons make up the proton and the neutron and how protons and neutrons make up the nucleus of the atom. The quark masses account for only 2% of the proton and neutron; we are trying to understand the origin of the other 98% of the visible mass of the universe.
Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics
Another major research activities of the department are in experimental and theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physics. These activities take place mostly on campus, but on occasion we participate in work at the Langley Research Center of NASA located 12 miles from campus or at the Free Electron Laser Facility at Jefferson Lab.
The Center for Accelerator Science was established in partnership with The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in order to meet the nation's need for scientists who will advance the sciences and technologies of particle accelerators and light sources for use in basic science, applied science, and industry. The Center offers a spectrum of research opportunities for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in accelerator sciences and technologies. The students will have access to state-of the-art facilities at both ODU and Jefferson Lab.
Condensed Matter Physics & Materials Science
Theoretical condensed matter physics and experimental materials research is the fourth major area of research in the Department. Some of the work has close connection to the Center for Accelerator Science.