Prof. Francis Robicheaux
I've been a professor of physics at Purdue University since 2013 (previously at Auburn University 1993-2013). My research area is Theoretical Atomic Physics, mainly focusing on time dependent atomic phenomena, highly excited (Rydberg) atoms, electron scattering, strong fields and ultracold plasmas. My research group typically consists of undergrads, grad students and postdocs. I'm a member of the ALPHA collaboration which was the first group to trap the antimatter version of the Hydrogen atom and the first group to quantitatively measure some of its properties.
Undergraduate ResearchResearch is funded by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. University restrictions limit each position to 10 hours per week.
Several excellent undergraduates have participated in research projects in my group: 29 students since summer '04. Five of these students were part of the NSF REU program and performed research projects during the summer. The rest have been Auburn or Purdue undergraduates who have undertaken their projects during the school year. I expect all researchers to complete a substantive project so that we can publish it in a professional journal; in only a couple cases did the students not finish their project. Students at all levels (from high school seniors to college seniors) have worked in our group. See the list at the bottom of this page for papers that have resulted from undergraduate research.
Most of the projects have involved solving a complicated problem in classical mechanics. These projects are motivated by new experimental results or planned experiments. All have involved learning how to numerically solve Newton's equations, deal with statistical issues, formulate the equations needed to be solved... The majority of these projects have been motivated by my collaboration in the ALPHA project which is the only group that has trapped the antimatter version of the hydrogen atom. The more advanced students have undertaken problems that could only be solved quantum mechanically. These students numerically solve the time dependent Schrodinger's equation. Thus, these students learn how to solve complex variable PDE's, use large arrays of data, interpret quantum wave functions... These projects are motivated by new experiments or recent theoretical advances.
I expect all researchers to start their project by writing their own computer programs; none of the research projects involve running someone else's codes. Roughly 1/2 of the students start with prior knowledge of writing scientific programs, but this is not necessary. Almost all students spend the first month or so learning how to create useful scientific programs. Typically, students start as Freshmen or Sophomores with projects that require computational classical mechanics: Newton's equations with electric and magnetic forces. As students advance, they can start research into quantum mechanical problems.
Here is some information needed to start research. It is a lot of information, but a dozen students (most of them freshman) have quickly mastered all of it.
Notes: on Taylor series, on Newton's equations, on numerical issues, on relation between force and energy
c++ programs: prime number calculator, fibonacci series calculator, taylor series cosine (float and double) calculator, simple Euler's method solution to Newton's equation, more sophisticated Euler's method solution to Newton's equation
Congratulations to current and former undergraduate researchers:
Hui Yu won the 2015 College of Science Outstanding Student (Junior) Award in physics.
Michael Wall won the 2014 Nicholas Metropolis Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Work in Computational Physics as a graduate student working with Lincoln Carr.
Patrick Donnan was a 2013 Goldwater Scholar while performing undergraduate research with FR.
Publications by undergraduates (the undergraduate researchers are underlined):
A. P. Povilus, N. D. DeTal, L. T. Evans, N. Evetts, J. Fajans, W. N. Hardy, E. D. Hunter, I. Martens, F. Robicheaux, S. Shanman, C. So, X. Wang, and J. S. Wurtele, "Electron Plasmas Cooled by Cyclotron-Cavity Resonance," Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 175001 (2016). PDF (1480 kB)
Hui Yu and F. Robicheaux, "Coherent dipole transport in a small grid of Rydberg atoms," Phys. Rev. A 93, 023618 (2016). PDF (387 kB)
F. Robicheaux, B.J. Bender, and M.A. Phillips, "Simulations of an ultracold, neutral plasma with equal mass for every charge," J. Phys. B 47, 245701 (2014). PDF (283 kB)
F. Robicheaux, M.M. Goforth, and M.A. Phillips, "Simulation of prompt many-body ionization in a frozen Rydberg gas," Phys. Rev. A 90, 022712 (2014). PDF (254 kB)
F. Robicheaux and N.M. Gill, "Effect of random positions for coherent dipole transport," Phys. Rev. A 89, 053429 (2014). PDF (831 kB)
P.L. Price, L.D. Noordam, H.B. van Linden van den Heuvell, and F. Robicheaux, "Hole burning and higher-order photon effects in attosecond light-atom interaction," Phys. Rev. A 89, 033414 (2014). PDF (351 kB)
G.W. Gordon and F. Robicheaux, "A classical analogue for adiabatic Stark splitting in non-hydrogenic atoms," J. Phys. B 46, 235003 (2013). PDF (1450 kB)
P.H. Donnan, M.C. Fujiwara, and F. Robicheaux, "A proposal for laser cooling antihydrogen atoms," J. Phys. B 46, 025302 (2013). PDF (362 kB)
P.H. Donnan and F. Robicheaux, "Positron collisions with Rydberg atoms in strong magnetic fields", New J. Phys. 14, 035018 (2012). PDF (590 kB)
C. Amole, ... P.H. Donnan, ... et al (ALPHA collaboration), "Resonant quantum transitions in trapped antihydrogen atoms," Nature 483, 439 (2012). proofs PDF (623 kB)
P.H. Donnan, K. Niffenegger, T. Topcu, and F. Robicheaux, "Calculation of state selective field ionization of hydrogen atoms in a strong magnetic field," J. Phys. B 44, 184003 (2011). PDF (441 kB)
K Niffenegger, K A Gilmore and F Robicheaux, "Early time properties of ultracold neutral plasmas," J. Phys. B 44, 145701 (2011). PDF (441 kB)
M.A. Henry and F. Robicheaux, "Simulation of motion and radiative decay of Rydberg hydrogen atoms in electric and magnetic fields", J. Phys. B 44, 145003 (2011). PDF (437 kB)
G. B. Andresen, M.D. Ashkezari, M. Baquero-Ruiz, W. Bertsche, P.D. Bowe, E. Butler, P.T. Carpenter, C.L. Cesar, S. Chapman, M. Charlton, J. Fajans, T. Friesen, M.C. Fujiwara, D.R. Gill, J.S. Hangst, W.N. Hardy, M.E. Hayden, A.J. Humphries, J.L. Hurt, R. Hydomako, S. Jonsell, N. Madsen. S. Menary, P. Nolan, K. Olchanski, A. Olin, A Povilus, P. Pusa, F. Robicheaux, E. Sarid, D.M. Silveira, C. So, J.W. Storey, R.I. Thompson, D.P. van der Werf, J.S. Wurtele, Nd Y. Yamazaki, "Autoresonant excitation of antiproton plasmas," Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 025002 (2011). PDF (316 kB)
F. Robicheaux, S. T. Denney, and M. A. Henry, "Simulation of discharging dust grains by laser excitation of neutral atoms," Phys. Plasmas 17, 103708 (2010). PDF (124 kB)
J.L. Hurt, P.T. Carpenter, C.L. Taylor, and F. Robicheaux, "Positron and electron collisions with anti-protons in strong magnetic fields," J. Phys. B 41, 165206 (2008). PDF (165 kB)
M.L. Wall, F. Robicheaux, and R.R. Jones, "Controlling atom motion through the dipole-dipole force," J. Phys. B 40, 3693 (2007). PDF (410 kB)
J. Zhang, C. L. Taylor, J. D. Hanson, and F. Robicheaux,"Regular and chaotic motion of anti-protons through a nested Penning trap with multipole magnetic fields," J. Phys. B 40, 1019 (2007). PDF (923 kB)
C.L. Taylor, Jingjing Zhang and F. Robicheaux, "Cooling of Rydberg antihydrogen during radiative cascade," J. Phys. B 39, 4945 (2006). PDF (207 kB)
M.L. Wall, C.S. Norton, and F. Robicheaux, "Two-stage Rydberg charge exchange in a strong magnetic field," Phys. Rev. A 72, 052702 (2005). PDF (82 kB)
D.J. Phalen, M.S. Pindzola, and F. Robicheaux, "Alignment effects in charge transfer and excitation for H+ and He2+ collisions with H2+," Phys. Rev. A 72, 022720 (2005). PDF (98 kB)
F. Robicheaux, E. Oks, A.L. Parker and T. Uzer, "Multiphoton ionization of hydrogen in parallel microwave and static fields: quantal and classical simulations," J. Phys. B 35, 4613 (2002). PDF (100 kB)
M. Ferrero and F. Robicheaux, "Inelastic scattering of a pulsed electron beam from a molecular wave packet," Chem. Phys. 267, 93 (2001). PDF (97 kB)