Using atoms and lasers to test fundamental atomic and nuclear theories

This talk will give an overview of the latest theoretical models, including advanced theories like quantum field theory, and share Prof. William's current experiment and how those results will improve our understanding of atomic theory.

The fundamental goal of atomic physics is to understand how all of the components of the atom come together and interact.  If successful, we should be able to predict experimentally measurable properties such as energy levels, hyperfine structure, mass, and ionization thresholds.  In our experimental lab, we test advanced quantum mechanical theories by measuring energy levels in the beryllium atom. In this talk, I will first give a brief overview of our current understanding of atoms and all of the components that make them up.  I will give an overview of the latest theoretical models, including advanced theories like quantum field theory, and then tell you about our current experiment and how our results will improve our understanding of atomic theory.

Professor Will Williams

Will received dual B.S. degrees—one in physics and one in mathematics—from Clarkson University. He went on to a fellowship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he got his doctorate in experimental cold atom physics. After getting his Ph.D., Will became a postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory, which is located outside Chicago and managed by the Department of Energy. Next, he took a second postdoc position at Old Dominion University which was both a research and teaching postdoc.  During his two postdocs, he designed, built and ran experiments at many different facilities around the country, including the Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics (CENPA), Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory, and NASA.

Will then joined the Smith physics faculty in 2013 and is currently working on both applied and fundamental physics projects.  His main project (which he will talk about today) is performing high precision spectroscopy on the neutral beryllium isotope chain in order to advance understanding of atomic physics.