The Physics program at UHCL has an active and growing research program, benefiting from collaborations with other local universities, local industries, and NASA JSC.

Our program was founded in 2004 on the promise of serving the local community. This includes both NASA JSC and other high-tech industries such as the petrochemical and medical industries. Our advisory board ensures that we are living up to this promise. Many of our research activities are inspired by our neighbors and are designed to make our students competitive in their future careers as researchers or industrial workers within the local community or wherever they choose to go. 

Many of our adjunct faculty (as well as current physics students) work at NASA JSC and are active in cutting-edge space research. UHCL and our partners have a long tradition of working with students on research projects. All UHCL Physics students are required to participate in at least one semester of supervised research with a faculty member, with some of these projects resulting in peer-reviewed publications. Researchers at UHCL have experience working with students at all levels and from many diverse backgrounds. UHCL prides itself on being a teaching institution, so our primary focus is on educating our students.  Because of this, we want to make the most out of the student’s time by getting them as quickly and deeply involved in the research project as their abilities allow.

Major Physics Program Research Facilities

Our Physics Program conducts research in various areas such as Experimental Applied Physics/Materials Science, Experimental Biophysics, Computational Applied Physics/Materials Science, Computational Cosmological Physics, and Theoretical Astro-particle Physics. Major research facilities and equipment available in the Physics Program/PAS Department for conducting these various types of research are listed below.

Applied Physics/Materials Science Research

Applied Physics and Materials Science are rapidly growing and closely related interdisciplinary research fields primarily focused on the applications of physical phenomena to technology development and discovery of advanced functional materials. Physics Program conducts both the theoretical (together with modeling and simulation) and experimental research, which are complementary to each other, in the fields of Applied Physics and Materials Science. Materials science research contributes significantly to today’s technology, in which novel advanced nanomaterials (nanowires, nanotubes, nanoparticles, fullerene, thin films of various nanomaterials, two-dimensional nanomaterials such as graphene, transition metal dichalcogenides, MXenes, etc.) are explored and developed as building blocks to build efficient novel multifunctional devices. Hence, the elucidation of these structures and properties is required for the potential technological applications in this field.

Physics Program faculties employ both experimental and computational approaches to conduct applied physics/materials science research.

Experimental Applied Physics/Materials Science Research

Experimental research on these fields conducted in Physics Program involves various methods for nanomaterials fabrication, such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD), sputtering, spin coating, and wet-chemistry methods. The fabricated materials are characterized by using advanced scientific tools available in our shared facility, such as scanning electron microscope, atomic force microscope, Raman spectrometer, X-ray Diffractometer, UV-visible spectrometer, physical property measurement system, and finally, are tested for suitable applications. Currently, experimental applied physics/materials science is focused on the synthesis, characterization, and applications of nanomaterials in thermal, light-matter interactions, and strain and molecular sensing fields. 

Featured Faculty Research

Computational Applied Physics/Materials Science Research

Theoretical/computational Applied Physics/Materials Science research field involves functional software (QuantumATK) installed on a cluster in our Physics Computer Lab. We model, optimize, and implement first principles calculations to reveal electronic, magnetic, optical, structural, mechanical, and thermal properties of nanomaterials. We screen the nanostructures and perform realistic material simulations to pave the ways toward developing new materials with superior properties. "  

Featured Faculty Research 

Biophysics Research

Biophysics research group is mainly working on the study of the effect of weak magnetic field on the microbial growth. For this purpose, a microbiology lab is equipped with scanning electron microscope as well. Microbial morphology and comparative study of the growth rates of various bacterial species of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria with rod shape and coccus are studied. Effect of antibiotics on commonly infecting human body are focused on this contact.  

Experimental results are then analyzed using the perturbative approach in quantum mechanics. This theoretical approach opens the gateway to study the probability of modification in protein structure that may eventually lead to gene mutation. 

Featured Faculty Research

Theoretical Astro-Particle Physics Research

Theoretical astrophysics group mainly uses quantum statistical physics to study astrophysical systems. It uses the calculations of physical parameters of a many-body system using real-time formalism mainly. These physical parameters are used as the modified properties of propagating particles in astrophysical systems. These results are applied to extremely hot early universe and until it cooled down by primordial nucleosynthesis. The other regime is the detailed study of cores neutron stars and supernova explosion. For this purpose, properties of massive neutrinos in various statistical media are also investigated in detail.  

Featured Faculty Research 

Computational Cosmological Physics Research

The Physics Program at UHCL maintains a High-Performance Computing (HPC)/Computational Laboratory facility, designed to train undergraduate and graduate students to perform basic research and develop software for HPCs. The Numerical Cosmology Group at UHCL has been working for several years to develop the most accurate simulations of the Early Universe possible in order to answer several basic questions such as when did the first magnetic fields develop?  In addition, our numerical code can be used to test several fundamental theories in physics.  Magnetic fields are very important to how galaxies and other astronomical objects form, including our own Milky Way, but very little is known about their origin. This is difficult because we know that to generate magnetic fields, one would need a primordial magnetic field (PMF). So, this begs the question, what created these PMFs in the first place? We are working precisely on understanding this. Using supercomputer simulations to create tiny universes and narrow down how primordial magnetic fields (PMF) were formed within the first nanoseconds of the universe. This research also includes several detailed data visualizations of these PMFs, showing what the universe may have looked like right after the Big Bang. 

Featured Faculty Research