We have been continuously funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation since 2015 and our current atomic physics work is supported by grants PHY-1912093 and PHY-2207209.

Dr. Harris at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics Stellarator in Greifswald, Germany

Atomic Collisions

Atomic collisions provide key insights into one of the most fundamental forces of nature – the Coulomb force. The study of atomic collisions is primarily used to understand the dynamics of charged particle interactions, but is vital to other areas of physics, such as plasma physics, astrophysics, and biophysics. Our research uses state-of-the-art high performance computing techniques to model various collision processes and provide guidance to our experimental colleagues. We are also studying how new matter wave forms, known as twisted electrons, interact with atoms and how these exciting and strange particles differ from their untwisted counterparts.

Ultrafast Physics

The goal of ultrafast physics is to understand electronic motion on its natural timescale. This is typically achieved by studying the interaction of atoms and molecules with short, high-intensity laser pulses. We use sculpted laser pulses to study processes such as above threshold ionization, tunneling ionization, and high-order harmonic generation. Sculpted pulses have unique properties that can be used to access physical properties of atoms and molecules that are otherwise inaccessible, such as their rotational properties. They can also be used to create atomic states useful in quantum computing applications. Our goals are to identify new techniques for the study of rotational properties of atoms and to find efficient methods of generating atomic states for use in quantum computers.

Time delay between ionization and recollision for electrons liberated by different types of laser pulses. The pulse structure alters the number and timing of recollision events.

Depiction of a cortical spreading depression wave of inactivity that often precedes migraine with aura.

Computational Neuroscience

Migraine is a disease afflicting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. For migraineurs, the effects can be debilitating and costly. While treatment options are improving, the underlying causes remain elusive. In collaboration with the Stein Lab at ISU, we use computational models to study neuronal interactions at the cellular level and examine the role of genetic mutations in triggering migraines. Our goal is to understand what happens at the onset of migraine and what initiates the process.