Physics Research

Solar Energy

Every hour the Earth receives more than enough energy to satisfy the world’s annual global energy consumption. As a result, solar energy is the most promising alternative to fossil fuels. Quantum dot solar cells are a type of solar cell that could deliver high efficiency devices at low cost. These cells rely on nanoparticles to both absorb light and provide the solar cell structure. Different sizes of nanoparticles absorb different colors of light and have different electronic properties.

Dr. Matt Becker and his student researchers use inexpensive chemical fabrication methods to build quantum dot solar cells.

Nuclear Theory

Nuclear physics is about more than just nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Nuclear physics is also at the heart of many technologies used in our everyday life including smoke detectors, and pace-makers. Understanding the energetics associated with nuclear transitions is essential for developing new applications of nuclear physics.

Dr. Ian Bentley works with students on computational models for various interactions among the nucleons in the nucleus of the atom.

Image and Video Analysis

The computer aided analysis of images allows for data to be extracted which would otherwise be determined subjectively. Further, the analysis of videos allows for the labor-intensive tasks like counting the number of objects in a frame or determining the size of objects to be done quickly and accurately.

The Physics Professors at Saint Mary’s have collaborated with students on the image analysis of Paper Analytical Devices (PADs) and have worked on video analysis of bats in flight.