Monday, February 1, 2016

Scott Baalrud, University of Iowa assistant professor of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has received an Air Force FY 2016 Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) award, for his project titled “Theory of Magnetized Ultracold Neutral Plasmas.”

The three-year award will allow Baalrud to study the effect of magnetic fields on plasmas in absolute zero temperature. When plasmas in these conditions are magnetized, they become strongly coupled, much like liquids or solids where the nearest neighbor particles have great influence on the dynamics of individual particles.

The research will combine theoretical physics and large scale computational simulation in order to answer the question of whether magnetic fields can give rise to novel physical phenomena, such as the strong coupling effect in ultracold plasmas.

“It’s fundamental research that supports a variety of applications, from energy research, national security, and basic science like astronomy and astrophysics,” Baalrud said.

Baalrud has been studying plasma physics since he was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin. He joined the University of Iowa physics and astronomy department faculty in 2013. The award will allow funding for a graduate student and postdoc to aid in his research.

The YIP is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States who received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the last five years and who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research.

The objective of the program is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is based in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.