Research at UNB

Currently, research within the University of New Brunswick Physics Department is being conducted in three major areas:

Atmospheric and Space Physics,

Atomic and Molecular Laser Spectroscopy, and

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Atmospheric and Space Physics

Space and Atmospheric Science research at the University of New Brunswick involves the investigation of phenomena occurring in the atmospheres and plasmas associated with the Earth, Sun, and Solar system. As our understanding of the Earth and its environment increases, scientists are becoming aware that the familiar characteristics of our home planet are the result of subtle balances between inputs from outside and the properties of our planet itself. An approach which considers the coupling between Sun and the Earth is needed for new insights to be developed. Achieving this understanding is becoming increasingly important as we realize that we are changing the character of the Earth and that solar variability may be stronger than previously realized.

The Space and Atmospheric Sciences group at the University of New Brunswick focuses on the study of coupling between Solar Wind - Magnetosphere - Ionosphere and the near space environment and the Earth's middle and upper atmosphere. Experimental work, data analysis, modeling and theoretical studies of aspects of this problem are being undertaken here and so there is abroad base of expertise to support students interested in advanced degrees related to this area of study. Current activities include the development ground based radars and optical interferometers, the development of an observatory near Fredericton, the development of satellite instrumentation for measurements of atmospheric dynamics, the analysis of satellite data sets, participation in national and international observing networks and the investigation of fundamental insights into the behavior of plasmas similar to those appearing in the Earth's near space environment. Space and Atmospheric Research group is also involved with a number of satellite missions of Canadian and other Space Agencies and collaborates with various national and international universities and institutes. Main project of the group is the Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network (CHAIN).

The specific areas of expertise of the faculty members in this group follow.

Dr. A. M. Hamza is primarily interested in plasma and neutral fluid turbulence as it occurs in space and laboratory setups. His main research focus is to understand through analytical and numerical models how turbulence develops. He currently uses nonperturbative methods to understand the development of intermittent nonlinear structures in ionospheric and magnetospheric plasmas. Part of his research program is directly linked to providing physical interpretations to observations of space plasmas in the Earth’s near space environment.

Dr. P. T. Jayachandran is an experimental physicist whose main research efforts are focused on building the hardware and developing radio techniques (radars and Global Positioning System), for atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing. He currently operates a number of radars and GPS receivers in the Canadian High-Arctic (CHAIN), and uses the data to understand physical processes in the Sun-Earth system in order to develop forecasting tools for ‘Space Weather’.

Dr. William Ward is involved in developing our understanding of the dynamics of the middle and upper atmosphere and the factors which influence this behaviour. His research includes the development of optical interferometers (ground based and satellite) for wind and temperature measurements, the analysis of satellite data sets, and the modelling of the physical processes associated the transport and dynamics of this region of the atmosphere.

Atomic and Molecular Laser Spectroscopy

Research in atomic and molecular physics has been actively pursued at UNB for nearly fifty years. Our work spans a wide spectrum of activities, including extremely high-precision calculation of atomic properties and structure (Dr. Z.-C. Yan), theoretical/computational quantum mechanics of molecules undergoing large-amplitude motion (Dr. S. C. Ross), and experimental spectroscopy on a wide variety of molecules using many novel techniques. We have considerable expertise in electronic spectroscopy on metal-bearing radicals (Dr. A. Adam and Dr. C. Linton) and on carbon-based radicals of atmospheric and astrophysical interest (Dr. D. Tokaryk), and in microwave and infrared studies on larger molecules of atmospheric, environmental, and biological relevance, with particular interest in their torsional and large-amplitude motions (Dr. L.-H. Xu, Dr. R. Lees). The spectroscopic laboratories at UNB are very well equipped with a wide variety of lasers from the infrared to the ultraviolet, a Fourier transform spectrometer, and a number of unique sources suitable for creating the molecules of interest. The activities of the group are truly international as we have ongoing collaborations with colleagues in Europe, the USA, and Asia, as well as in Canada. Several of our members are among the first to conduct spectroscopy experiments on the new Canadian Light Source, a synchrotron based at the University of Saskatchewan. The atomic and molecular scientists at UNB are members of a new research centre (one of the largest of its kind in North America): the Centre for Laser, Atomic, and Molecular Sciences (CLAMS), which involves twelve scientists in both Chemistry and Physics.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is probably the most flexible and powerful diagnostic imaging technique available to clinical medicine. MRI in material science promises to observe and quantify structure and dynamics non-invasively. The UNB MRI Centre has invented a family of new MRI methods which permit the visualization of structures not only in vivo, but in a large range of materials including concrete, polymers, composites, foods and microporous solids. The successful application of our new MRI techniques, with allied hardware and software innovations, has opened entirely new vistas in material science research. The UNB MRI Centre is the only material science MRI laboratory in Canada and the only university based laboratory of its type in North America. As the birthplace of the SPRITE MRI technique we are, by definition, one of the leading laboratories world-wide in many aspects of material science MRI. Our ideas and techniques are now being adopted by numerous academic and industrial research laboratories.