College of Science and Technology

Research in Department of Physics

The word “physics” comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "the knowledge of nature." Regardless of the subject of inquiry, we believe that nature can be described quantitatively using certain fundamental principles. In search of these fundamental principles, physics has contributed tremendously to the modern way of life, from the generation of electricity, modern cell phones, to several medical devices. 
As physics is not bound by the objects of study, physics research also includes all sorts of objects that you can find in nature. In our department, the objects of our inquiry span scale from sub-atomic particles (Nuclear Physics) to astrophysical jets (Astronomy), from weather and climate sciences (Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology) to brain and behavior (Biological Physics). 
The wide range of our research areas allows students to apply physics skills in a variety of ways and opens a wide range of career opportunities. Our alumni have gone on to work with government agencies (NASA, NOAA, EPA, Institute for Defense Analyses, and U.S. Space Force), industries (Lockheed Martin, Intel, Boeing, General Electric, IBM), several high schools and universities, and even in media and TV stations.
Below you will find information about how to get involved in research in our department. Contact us for more information.

Research Areas

This research will start in 2021. The department has a planetarium with a digital projector and an observation deck with telescopes.

Astronomy Faculty:

  • Athina Meli

How does burning biomass affect our atmosphere? How do you use basic physics and numerical modeling to understand and predict climate change?

Research in Dr. Bililign's group involves the use of Spectroscopic Techniques and theoretical methods for atmospheric applications: The focus is measuring the optical and physio-chemical properties of Biomass Burning (BB) aerosols and understanding the role of BB Aerosols on climate, regional weather, air quality, and health. Students with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, environmental sciences, and chemical engineering can apply.

Dr. Jing Zhang’s research interests focus on regional climate and weather studies by the means of numerical modeling and data analysis, particularly for the polar regions.

Dr. Yuh-Lang Lin’s research includes Tropical Wave and Cyclone Dynamics, Mountain Meteorology, Wildfire Dynamics and Modeling, Storm Dynamics, Numerical Weather Prediction, Cloud Microphysics Parameterization, Climate Change, Gravity Wave Dynamics, and Moist Convection.

Atmospheric Science and Meteorology Faculty:

How does the human body work? What is the fundamental physics at work within us?

Dr. Singh studies information processing in living systems, with current focus on human olfaction and color vision. Dr. Tung is using microfabricated devices to experimentally study how sperm interact with a complicated physical environment and using many-body physics (such as thermodynamics) to understand the collective dynamics and propulsion of active matter systems.

Biological Physics Faculty:

What causes the unexplained accelerated expansion rate of the universe? How are the fundamental forces of nature related?

Professor Hammond carries on a program of research in General Relativity. He has recently won an international award in his work, “Einstein’s Dream.” Here, Hammond found Einstein’s elusive unified theory of gravitation and electromagnetism, although the theory turns out to be more general and includes intrinsic spin (Hammond, R.T. Gravity and spin with a nonsymmetric metric tensor. Gen Relativ Gravit 51, 97 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10714-019-2572-8). His current research finally resolves Einstein's long-sought battle to find a unified field theory.

General Relativity Faculty:

What is the radius of the proton, really?

This is a burning question in physics today as two different measurement yield two different results!

Drs. Gasparian and Pedroni led a large collaboration effort including Duke University and the University of Virginia to design and perform a novel experiment at Jefferson Laboratory to address the current problem of the proton charge radius in physics. The results were published recently in Nature, after which followed interviews and news releases.

Nuclear Physics Faculty:

What is the topological nature of light?

Dr. Hammond is studying new topological solutions of Maxwell's that predict totally novel kinds of propagating electromagnetic energy. Like magician's rings, the closed electric field lines loop around closed magnetic field lines. They propagate at the speed of light, but are nothing like waves.

Optics and Electrodynamics Faculty

Opportunities

Research opportunities are available for undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral candidates. See research area tabs on the left for opportunities in specific areas.

 

GEOPATHS: Pathways to Atmospheric Sciences

Contact: bililign@ncat.edu

 

NSF-IRES International Research in Geosciences (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) in BOTSWANA

 

Join us for an exciting summer of geosciences research in Africa! Link

 

Contact: bililign@ncat.edu

Publications

  1. Rudra P. Pokhrel, Janica Gordon, Marc N. Fiddler & Solomon Bililign (2020) Impact of Combustion Conditions on Physical and Morphological Properties of Biomass Burning Aerosol, Aerosol Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/02786826.2020.1822512
  2.  Smith, D. M., Fiddler, M. N., Pokhrel, R. P., and Bililign, S.: Laboratory studies of fresh and aged biomass burning aerosol emitted from east African biomass fuels – Part 1: Optical properties, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 20, 10149–10168, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-20-10149-2020, 2020. https://acp.copernicus.org/articles/20/10149/2020/
  3. Smith, D. M., Cui, T., Fiddler, M. N., Pokhrel, R. P., Surratt, J. D., and Bililign, S.: Laboratory studies of fresh and aged biomass burning aerosol emitted from east African biomass fuels – Part 2: Chemical properties and characterization, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 20, 10169–10191, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-20-10169-2020, 2020https://acp.copernicus.org/articles/20/10169/2020/
  4. Walker, B. J., Phuyal, S., Ishimoto, K., Tung, C.-K., & Gaffney, E. A. (2020). Computer-assisted beat-pattern analysis and the flagellar waveforms of bovine spermatozoa. Royal Society Open Science, 7(6), 200769. doi:10.1098/rsos.200769
  5. Jaime Ross Green, Marc Nicholas Fiddler, Dorothy L Fibiger Brown, Erin E. McDuffie Boulder Pedro Campuzano-Jost, Jason Clay Schroder, Jose L Jimenez, Andrew John Weinheimer, Glenn M Wolfe, Solomon Bililign, Steven S Brown (2020) “Wintertime Constraint of Primary and Secondary Formaldehyde Emission Sources over the Eastern Coastal United States,” Submitted to Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmosphere
  6. Lassman, J.R.  Pierce, Bangs, A. P. Sullivan, B.  Ford, G.  Mengistu Tsidu, J.P. Sherman, J. L. Collette, Solomon. Bililign, (2020) “Using low-cost measurement systems to investigate air quality: a case study in Palapye, Botswana” Atmosphere, 11(6) 583
  7. E. Kunkel, D.R. Easterling, A. Ballinger, Solomon . Bililign, S.M. Champion, D.R. Corbett, K. D. Dello, J. Dissen, G. M. Lackmann, R. A. Luettich, Jr., L.B. Perry, W.A. Robinson, L.E. Stevens, B. C. Stewart, and A. J. Terando, 2020: North Carolina Climate Science Report. North Carolina Institute of Climate Studies, 233PP. https://ncics.org/nccsr
  8. Precision Measurement of the pi0 Lifetime” Larin, Y. Zhang, A. Gasparian, et al., Science, vol. 368, issue 6490, pp. 506-509, May 2020.
  9. Adhikari, … A. Gasparian, et al., “Measurement of the Photon Beam Asymmetry in gp at Eg = 8.5 GeV” arXiv:2003.08038, 2020.
  10. Lin, Y.-L., Agyakwah, J. G. Riley, H.-H. Hsu, and  L.-C. Jiang, 2020: Orographic effects on the propagation and rainfall of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) 2007-08 over New Guinea Highland. In press.
  11. Bissoli, P., C. Ganter, T. Li, A. Mekonnen, and A. Sánchez-Lugo, Eds., 2020: Regional Climates [in “State of the Climate in 2019"]. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 101 (7), (in press), doi:10.1175/2020BAMSStateoftheClimate.1.
  12. B. D. Enyew* and A. Mekonnen, 2020: Africa [in “State of the Climate in 2019"]. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 101 (7), (in press), doi:10.1175/2020BAMSStateoftheClimate.1.
  13. Mekonnen, A., C. J. Schreck, and B. D. Enyew*, 2020: “The impact of Kelvin waves during dry and wet African rainfall years”, Atmosphere, 11(6), 568.
  14. L. Y. Worku*A. Mekonnen, and C. J Schreck, 2020: “The Impact of MJO, Kelvin, and Equatorial Rossby Waves on the Diurnal Cycle over the Maritime Continent”, Atmosphere, 11(7), 711.
  15. Singh, V., & Nemenman, I. (2020). Universal properties of concentration sensing in large ligand-receptor networks. Physical review letters124(2), 028101.

  1. Singh, V., Murphy, N. R., Balasubramanian, V., & Mainland, J. D. (2019). Competitive binding predicts nonlinear responses of olfactory receptors to complex mixtures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences116(19), 9598-9603.
  1. Worku*, L. Y., A. Mekonnen, C. J. Schreck, 2019: “The role of diurnal cycle over the Maritime continent: Part I”, Int. J. Climatol. DOI: 10.1002/joc.6121
  1. Garcia-Rivera, J. M., and Y.-L. Lin, 2019: On the coupling of convective updrafts prior to secondary eyewall formation in Hurricane Katrina (2005). Meteor. and Atmos. Phys. (MAAP), 131 (1), pp. 29-53 (doi: 10.1007/s.00703-017-0557-2).
  2. Oldaker, G. IV, L. Liu and Y.-L., Lin, 2019: Influence of Appalachian orography on heavy rainfall and rainfall variability associated with the passage of Hurricane Isabel by ensemble simulations. Meteor. Atmos. Phys. (MAAP), 131 (3), 329-350. (doi: 10.1007/s00703-017-0562-5).
  3. A Small Proton Charge Radius from an Electron-Proton Scattering Experiment” Ziong, A. Gasparian, et al., Nature 575, 145 – 150 (2019).
  4. “High Precision Measurement of Compton Scattering in the 5 GeV Region” Ambrazowich, … A. Gasparian, et al., Phys. Lett. B v. 797 (2019), 134884.
  5. First Measurement of Near-Threshold J/Y” Exclusive Photoproduction off the Proton”, Ali, … Gasparian, et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 123 (2019), No. 7 072001.
  6. Measurements of Non-Singlet Moments of the Nucleon Structure Functions and Comparison to Predictions from Lattice QCD for Q2 = 4 GeV2”, PAlbayrak, … Gasparian, et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 123 (2019), No. 2, 022501.
  7. Damon Smith, Rudra Pokherl, Marc N Fiddler, Solomon Bililign (2019) “Laboratory studies of fresh and aged biomass burning aerosols emitted from sub-Saharan Africa biomass fuels- PART 1-Optical properties”, Chem. Phys. Disc. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1156- Now accepted for APC
  8. Damon Smith, Marc N Fiddler, Cui Tianqu, Rudra Pokherl, Jason Surratt, Solomon Bililign (2019) “Laboratory studies of fresh and aged biomass burning aerosols emitted from sub-Saharan Africa biomass fuels-PART II- Chemical properties and characterization.”  Chem. Phys. Disc.https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1160
  9. Emmanuel Sarpong, Damon Smith,Marc N Fiddler, and Solomon Bililign, (2019) “Refractive Indices of Biomass Burning Aerosols Obtained from African Biomass Fuels using RDG Approximations,” Atmosphere 202011(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11010062
  10. D. Haskins, …, Jaime R. Greene, …, Solomon. Bililign, …, J.A.Thornton (2019) “Anthropogenic control over wintertime oxidation of atmospheric pollutants”, Geophysical Research Letter 46 (24)https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL085498
  11. Solomon Bililign, (2019) “Building Capacity in Geosciences at HBCU’s”, Journal of Geosciences Education, 67; 4 351-356
  12. Damon Smith, Marc Fiddler, Kenneth Sexton, Solomon Bililign, (2018)” Construction and Characterization of an indoor Smog Chamber for Measurement of the Optical and Physicochemical Properties of Aging Biomass Burning Aerosols,” Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 19, 3, 467-483
  13. Jaime R. Green, …, SolomonBililign,   Brown, (2019).  “Rates of Wintertime Atmospheric SO2 Oxidation based on Aircraft Observations during Clear Sky Conditions over the Eastern U.S”.  Special Issue -WINTER Campaign (12, 124, pp. 6630-6649).   Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 124, 12, 6630-6649.
  14. Bliss, A., R. Hock, G. Wolken, E. Whorton, C. Aubry-Wake, J. Braun, A. Gusmeroli, W. Harrison, A. Hoffman, A. Liljedahl, and J. Zhang, 2019, Glaciers and Climate of the Upper Susitna Basin, Alaska, Earth System Science Data, doi: https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2018-155.
  15. Zhang, C., J. Zhang, 2019, Modeling study of foehn wind events in Antarctic Peninsula with WRF forced by CCSM. J. Meteor. Res., 32(6), 909–922, doi: 10.1007/s13351-018-8067-9.

  1. Singh, V., Cottaris, N. P., Heasly, B. S., Brainard, D. H., & Burge, J. (2018). Computational luminance constancy from naturalistic images. Journal of vision18(13), 19-19.
  2. Huang, Y.-C., and -L. Lin, 2018: Looping tracks associated with tropical cyclones approaching an isolated mountian. Part I; Essential parameters. Meteor. Atmos. Phys. (MAAP), 130 (3), 333-348. (doi: 10.1007/s00703-017-0533-x).
  3. “Robust Extraction of the Proton Charge Radius from Electron-Proton scattering Data” Yan, … A. Gasparian, et al.,Phys. Rev. C98, 025204 (2018).
  4. Direct measurements of the lifetime of medium-heavy hypernuclei”, Qiu, … A. Gasparian, et al., Nucl. Phys. A973 (2018), 116-148.
  5. Lee, …, Jaime R Greene, …, Solomon Bililign, J.…, J. Thornton, (2018).  “Airborne observations of reactive inorganic chlorine and bromine species in the exhaust of coal-fired power plants”, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 19, 123, 11225-11237
  6. Lee, P…, Jaime R. Greene, …, Solomon Bililign, …,  J. Thornton ( 2018).  “Flight deployment of a high-resolution time-of-flight chemical ionization mass spectrometer: observations of reactive halogen and nitrogen oxide species.”  Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres,14, 123; 7670-7686
  7. Viral Shah, …, Jaime Green, …, SolomonBililign, Brown, Steven (2018) “Chemical Feedbacks Suppress the Wintertime Response of Atmospheric Particulate Sulfate and Nitrate to Emissions Reductions over Eastern U.S”. Nat. Acad. Sci. 32, 115, 8110-8115USA,
  8. Dorothy L. Fibige, …, Jaime R. Green, …, Solomon Bililign, …, Steven S. Brown. (2018). “Wintertime overnight Nox removal in a coal-fired power plant plume and its implications for understanding winter Nox processing” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 123, 1412–1425. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JD027768.
  9. Zhang, J., S. Stegall, and X. Zhang, 2018, Wind-SST-Sea Ice Relations in the Marginal Ice Zone of the Chukchi-Beaufort Seas, Environmental Research Letters, doi: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa9adb.
  10. Gian Villamil-Otero, J. Zhang, J. He, and X. Zhang, 2018, Role of Extratropical Cyclones in the Recently Observed Increase in Poleward Moisture Transport into the Arctic Ocean, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, doi:  10.1007/s00376-017-7116-0.

  1. Singh, V., & Nemenman, I. (2017). Simple biochemical networks allow accurate sensing of multiple ligands with a single receptor. PLoS computational biology13(4), e1005490.
  2. Lin, Y.-L., Spinks, and B.-W. Shen, 2017: Formation and maintenance of an African easterly wave-mesoscale convective system in 2004 over East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Ch. 1 (pp.1-34) of the “North Africa Soc., Env. and Political Issues” (Ed. S. Fuller), Nova Scientific Publishers, Inc., New York, 102pp. (ISBN: 978-1-53612-984-7).
  3. Taylor, S. M., M. L. Kaplan, and -L. Lin, 2017: Multi-scale dynamics of the 11-12 February 2010 Deep South U.S. Snowstorm event. Adv. in Meteor.,vol. 2017, Article ID 6301026 (https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6301026).
  4. Yang, Q., L. R. Leung, J. Lu, -L. Lin, S. Hagos, K. Sakaguchi, and Y. Gao, 2017: Exploring the effects of nonhydrostatic dynamics in high-resolution aquaplanet simulations. J. Geophys. Res., D. (Atmosphere), 122(6):3245-3265. (doi:10.1002/2016JD025287)
  5. Sever, G., and -L. Lin, 2017: Dynamical and Physical processes associated with orographic precipitation in a conditionally unstable uniform flow: Variation in basic wind speed. J. Atmos. Sci., 74, 449-466. 
  6. “Measurement of the beam asymmetry Σ for π0 and η photoproduction on the proton at Eγ = 9 GeV”, H. Al Ghoual, … Gasparian, et al., Phys. Rev. C95 (2017), no. 4, 042201, 2017.
  7. Samin Poudel,Marc Fiddler, Damon Smith, K.M Flurchick, and Solomon Bililign. (2017) “Optical Properties of Biomass Burning Aerosols: Comparison of Experimental Measurements and T-matrix Calculations.” Atmosphere, 8, 11, 228.
  8. Tao, W., J. Zhang, Y. Fu, and X. Zhang, 2017, Driving Roles of Tropospheric and Stratospheric Thermal Anomalies in the Intensification and Persistence of 2012 Arctic Superstorm, Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/2017GL074778.
  9. Tao, W., J. Zhang, X. Zhang, 2017, The Role of Stratosphere Vortex Downward Intrusion in a Long-lasting Late-summer Arctic Storm. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. doi: 10.1002/qj.3055.
    7. Bieniek, P. A., U. S. Bhatt, J. E. Walsh, T. S. Rupp, J. Zhang, J. R. Krieger, and R. Lader, 2016, Dynamical downscaling of ERA-Interim temperature and precipitation for Alaska, Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-15-0153.1

  1. Singh, V., Tchernookov, M., & Nemenman, I. (2016). Effects of receptor correlations on molecular information transmission. Physical Review E94(2), 022425.
  2. Lin, Y.-L.,-H. Chen, and L. Liu, 2016:Orographic effects on track deflection of an idealized tropical cyclone passing over a  mesoscale mountain range. J. Atmos. Sci., 73, 3951-3974.
  3. Arivelo, T. A., and -L. Lin, 2016: Climatology of heavy orographic rainfall induced by tropical cyclones over Madagascar: From synoptic to mesoscale perspectives. Earth Science Research, 5(2), 146-161.
  4. Lin, Y.-L., 2016:  Instabilities conducive to aviation turbulence. Ch. 3 (pp. 59-82) of the "Aviation Turbulence - Porcesses, Detection, Prediction" (Eds: R. D. Sharman and T. P. Lane), Springer, 523pp. (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-23630-8_3)
  5. Smith, G. M., -L. Lin, and Y. Rastigejev, 2016:Orographic effects on supercell: Development and structure, intensity and tracking. Environ. Nat. Resources Res., 6(2), doi:10.5539/enrr.v6n2p76-91.
  6. Lin, Y.-L.,-Y. Lee, C.-S. Chen, F.-Y. Cheng, P.-L. Lin, J.-H. Teng, and C.-L. Liu, 2016:Initiation and maintenenance mechanisms for heavy precipitation systems over a mountainous island under a prevailing monsoon current. Earth Sci. Research, 5(2), 90-104, doi:10.5539/esr.v5n2p90.
  7. Liu, L., -L. Lin, and S.-H. Chen, 2016: Effects of Landfall Location and Approach Angle of an Idealized Tropical Cyclone over a Long Mountain Range. Front. Earth Sci. 4:14. doi: 10.3389/feart.2016.00014
  8. Jung, Y., and -L. Lin, 2016:Assessment of a regional-scale weather model for hydrological applications in South Korea. Environ. Nat. Resources Res., 6 (2), doi:10.5539/enrr.v6n2p28-41. 
  9. Garcia-Rivera, J., -L. Lin, and Y. Rastigejev, 2016: Cold-air damming - tropical cyclone interaction: A numerical case study of Tropical Storm Kyle (2002) and its influence on heavy rain in the North Carolinas. Meteor. and Atmos. Phys. (MAAP), 128, 347-372. doi:10.1007/s00703-015-0421-1)
  10. Sujeeth Singh, Marc Fiddler, Solomon Bililign, (2016) Measurement of size dependent single Scattering albedo of fresh biomass burning aerosols using the extinction-minus-scattering technique with a combination of cavity ring-down spectroscopy and nephelometry. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 16, 13491-13507.
  11. Ziemen, F. A., R. Hock, A. Aschwanden, C. Khroulev, C. Kienholz, A. Melkonian, J. Zhang, 2016, Modeling the evolution of the Juneau Icefield using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM), Journal of Glaciology, doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/jog.2016.13.
  12. Zhang, J.F. Liu, W. Tao, J. Krieger, M. Shulski, and X. Zhang, 2016, Mesoscale Climatology and Variation of Surface Winds Over the Chukchi-Beaufort Coastal Areas, Journal of Climate, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0436.1