Undergraduate research is a key component of our physics curriculum. All of our students gain research experience either by working closely with a faculty member on an original project here at IU South Bend or by participating in an NSF REU program at another university. Students present their work in a variety of venues, such as our Contemporary Physics Seminar (PHYS-S 106), the IU South Bend Undergraduate Research Conference, or professional conferences, and in some cases students become coauthors on peer-reviewed journal articles. Below are brief descriptions of the active research programs available to students at IU South Bend.
IU South Bend’s Astroparticle group is focused mainly on the experimental search for dark matter. The two experiments (PICASSO & COUPP) we collaborate on have now merged into the PICO collaboration, which is using the bubble chamber technique to search for evidence of these elusive particles. IU South Bend has designed and fabricated hundreds of ultrasonic transducers, which have been able to distinguish radioactive background from the signal being searched for. We have also had students make numerous contributions to the bubble chamber experiments on aspects of the chemistry of the detector, installation and commissioning of detectors at Fermilab and the deep underground site at SNOLAB (in Ontario, Canada), as well as analyzing the dark matter search data itself. Our group has also aided other experiments such as an astrophysics experiment studying massive stars, the new muon accelerator (MICE) at Fermilab, a competing dark matter experiment, as well as a cold neutron experiment.
High-Pressure Condensed Matter Physics
IU South Bend is a member institution of COMPRES: COnsortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences, and we are actively involved in experimental research at high pressure. Our mineral physics laboratory uses Diamond Anvil Cells (DACs) coupled with laser and synchrotron radiation to generate and investigate the pressure and temperature conditions found deep inside the Earth and other planets. We are also interested in the role of pressure, as a thermodynamic variable, for basic physics, chemistry and materials science.
Nuclear physics research at IU South Bend primarily utilizes the accelerator facilities at Notre Dame’s Nuclear Structure Laboratory and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Facility at Michigan State University. Our research focuses on reactions induced by radioactive beams and reactions of astrophysical interest. IU South Bend is a “Participating College” of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA).
Research in String Theory at IU South Bend focuses on Calabi-Yau compactification and mirror symmetry. We use methods from arithmetic geometry to investigate the relationship between Calabi-Yau manifolds and exactly solvable models.