PhD emphasis – Applied Physics

Applied Physics is a research and academic emphasis offering advanced degrees through the Department of Applied Science. The emphasis is designed to prepare students in cutting-edge research areas in Applied Physics, Materials, Earth Sciences, Astronomy, and Astrophysics that include advanced materials, nanotechnology, photonic devices, applied geophysics, seismology, dark matter and galaxies. Current research topics under Applied Physics are listed below with a brief description of each area.

Applied Geophysics

Applied Geophysics, which combines knowledge from physics, mathematics, and geology, includes exploration and imaging of the earth’s interior through physical measurement collected at or near the earth’s surface by highly specialized equipment. The research program at UALR is oriented toward the development and application of geophysical technologies for environmental, geotechnical, and engineering applications. Gravity, magnetic, electric, seismic, and ground penetrating radar are the main technologies utilized in the research. Topography and three-dimensional imaging of the shallow subsurface using these technologies is an important research focus. Applied geophysics includes also research in digital signal processing to develop new procedures for infrasonic signal detection and Doppler Radar Wind profiling. Infrasonic detection, used heavily in nuclear monitoring, requires innovative technologies in both software and hardware to improved signal-to-noise ratio and to discriminate between different signals. Doppler Radar Wind profiling is mainly implemented for aviation and space vehicle safety. These projects provide opportunities for students in the Applied Physics and Engineering Science emphasis areas. Email Dr. Haydar Al-Shukri or phone him at 501-569-8164.

Direct Dark Matter Searches

DarkSide (Depleted Argon Cryogenic Scintillation and Ionization Detection) is an experimental collaboration for the detection of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), a proposed form of dark matter. Its scientific program is planned in phases with increasing sensitivity. The first step is Darkside-50, a dual-phase, 50 kg depleted argon time projection chamber (TPC). WIMPs would be detected when they scatter off an argon nucleus in the bulk liquid argon target. The nucleus recoils leaving a short track of ionized argon. Molecular processes of electronic recombination produce a flash of scintillation light detected by arrays of photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). By applying an electric field, a fraction of the electrons are drifted to the anode grid, multiplied in the gas phase above the liquid argon and detected as a second signal. This dual readout allows us to distinguish nuclear recoils from other background events. Darkside-50 will be deployed at the Gran Sasso underground laboratories in Italy. The second phase of DarkSide is within a larger project called MAX (Multi-ton Argon and Xenon detectors), which also includes the XENON collaboration. The plan is to run dual-phase ton-sized depleted argon and xenon detectors side by side, to validate discovery claims with different targets. For more information e-mail Dr. Marc S. Seigar ( or phone him at 501-569-8964.

Extragalactic Astrophysics

The Arkansas Galaxy Evolution Survey (AGES) collaboration is involved in research in the areas of structure, morphology, and dynamics of nearby galaxies, and the dynamics of clusters of galaxies. Areas of particular interest include, the nature of central supermassive black holes, the amount and distribution of dark matter in galaxies, spiral structure, and barred galaxies. We have access to large datasets including, Hubble Space Telescope archival data, Spitzer Space Telescope archival data, Sloan Digital Sky Survey data, The Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey, and the future data products of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. For more information e-mail Dr. Marc S. Seigar ( or phone him at 501-569-8964.

Materials Research

This research area focuses on properties, characterization, and advanced technological applications of thin film and nanostructured materials. Research topics include micro- and nano-fabrication, advanced characterization techniques, solid state physics, materials for energy applications, bio-materials, multifunctional materials, smart materials, thin film coating technologies, composite materials, and materials for space exploration. E-mail Dr. Tansel Karabacak or phone him at 501-569-8045.

Optics Research

The science of optics and the technology of photonics (generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon) are now recognized as critical enablers for information technology and telecommunications, health care and the life sciences, sensing applications in industry and manufacturing, and developments in several areas of national defense. The Applied Optics Laboratory (AOL) at UALR provides research opportunities in the Applied Physics emphasis area for students interested in developing photonic devices for measurements in industry, the environment, aerospace, medicine, and agriculture. E-mail Dr. Al Adams or phone him at 501-683-7086.


The Arkansas Center for Earthquake Education and Technology Transfer is a state funded institution within UALR that has the responsibility for installing and operating the Arkansas Seismic Network. One mission of the center is to conduct scientific research in a wide range of projects in earthquake and nuclear seismology, the New Madrid Seismic Zone, paleoseismology, and earthquake risk assessment and mitigation. This Center provides students and faculty with data, facilities, and the environment to accomplish their research. E-mail Dr. Haydar Al-Shukri or phone him at 501-569-8164.