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Society of Physics Students

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association explicitly designed for students. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open to anyone interested in physics. The only requirement for membership is that you be interested in physics. Besides physics majors, our members include majors in chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, medicine, and other fields.

Within SPS is housed Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society, which elects members on the basis of outstanding academic achievement. This unique two-in-one society operates within the American Institute of Physics, an umbrella organization for ten other professional science societies.

Regular Meetings are held on Wednesdays at 12PM in Rusteberg 205.


UT promotes cooperation with Mexican universities

(Sept. 2014) With the aim of increasing academic exchange and student mobility between the USA and Mexico, Dr. Fredrick Jenet, director of the UTB Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy (CARA), Dr. Richard Price, member of CARA, and Dr. Randall Charbeneau, assistant vice chancellor of the University of Texas System, visited Mexico City last week to meet with their Mexican counterparts.                  Read more The Brownsville Herald   The New York Times

Students to Benefit from SpaceX Launch Site at Boca Chica Beach

(August, 2014) SpaceX ended months of speculation that the rocket company would chose Cameron County and build the world’s first vertical rocket launch site at Boca Chica Beach to complement its existing launch sites at Vandenberg, California, and Cape Canaveral, Florida. Read more.

UTB second US team at the International Collegiate Programming Contest

(June, 2014) UTB team, led by physics undergraduate student Ali Amir Aldan and including physics major Satzhan Sitmukhambetov and computer science major Raynaldo Rae, participated in the recently concluded World Finals of the prestigious International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) held at the Ural Federal University in Russia.Read more.

New cooperative doctoral program in physics

(June, 2014) The University of Texas, Arlington (UTA) and the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to offer a cooperative doctoral program in physics. Starting Fall 2014, doctoral students admitted to UTA under this cooperative doctoral program can reside at UTB and carry out their research under the supervision of a UTB physics and astronomy department faculty member. Five students who will be graduating with M.S. Physics degree by summer 2014 at UTB will join the first cohort of this program. The new cooperative doctoral program will foster joint collaborative education and research advances between the two universities that will enrich the RGV students.

New collaboration on the horizon with universities in Kazakhstan

(June, 2014) Professors Malik Rakhmanov, Soumya D. Mohanty and Soma Mukherjee were invited to deliver a series of lectures on topics of advanced signal processing, data analysis and data mining at an International Summer School held at the Eurasian National University (ENU), Kazakhstan in May 2014. The summer school also featured faculty members from several universities in the U.S. and Europe. Read more.

UTB Selected to Host Physics Conference

The University of Texas at Brownsville has been selected as the site for a 2015 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). This event will be a three day regional conference for undergraduate physics majors. The conference organizer is Dr. Cristina Torres. More info on the CUWiP.

Faculty and students are engaged in fundamental research in relativistic astrophysics, gravitational wave astronomy, biophysics, nanoscience, and optics.

Publications by department faculty members:

Fall 2012 - Summer 2013

Fall 2011 - Summer 2012


Fermi-normal (FN) coordinates provide a standardized way to describe the effects of gravitation from the point of view of an inertial observer. These coordinates have always been introduced via perturbation expansions and were usually limited to distances much less than the characteristic length scale set by the curvature of spacetime. For a plane gravitational wave this scale is given by its wavelength which defines the domain of validity for these coordinates known as the long-wavelength regime. The symmetry of this spacetime, however, allows us to extend FN coordinates far beyond the longwavelength regime. Here we present an explicit construction for this long-range FN coordinate system based on the unique solution of the boundary-value problem for spacelike geodesics. More...

Nanoenergetic systems also known as metastable intermolecular composites (MIC) have various potential applications as propellants, explosives, and primers. The development of novel MIC systems, their design, synthesis and fabrication procedures are critical for national security and it was recognized as a significant addition to support of changing force structure for advanced weapons platforms. Our research at UTB focuses on developing a framework of principles for design and fabrication of nano-tailored highly energetic systems and nanoenergetic gas generators (NGG) for advanced energetic platforms. This involved a systematic study of physics based knowledge in energy release, shock waves and pressure discharge needed to enhance the performance and functionality of novel high density energetic systems.
Read article...

Galaxies appear simpler than before” by Disney et al. The image shows a montage of coloured images of a dozen galaxies (huge whirlpools of stars in space) drawn from our survey of the universe, which is the subject of the letter. As well as being very beautiful they have considerable scientific interest too because they show a wider variety of galaxies than it has been possible to portray before. Hitherto galaxies were found optically, and hence tended to look rather like one another. These, however, were picked up in a radio survey and imaged only afterwards. Consequently they exhibit a much wider range of colours, shapes and surface brightnesses. Intriguingly some of them, although close-by in cosmic terms, are almost, but not quite, invisible. We believe both astronomers and laymen will find them fascinating. Copyright belongs to one of the co-authors, Andrew West. Read article...


Although predicted by S. Rytov more than sixty years ago the experimental proof that radiative heat transfer can be exponentially improved by reducing the gap between two surfaces of different temperature was only recently demonstrated for macroscopic objects with a geometry that can be compared with theoretical predictions. The scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Brownsville demonstrated good agreement between theoretical prediction and measurement. When an “infinite” warm surface is separated from a cooler one by a vacuum gap, the rate of radiative heat transfer between the two shouldn’t depend on the size of the gap. According to theory, though, this picture doesn’t hold when the surfaces are sufficiently close. In the paper "Near-Field Radiative Heat Transfer between Macroscopic Planar Surfaces" (Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 014301, 2011), the scientists focused on a straightforward planar geometry. The heat transfer between two parallel square sapphire plates, each about two inches on a side, was measured for separations from a 0.1 mm down to only a few microns. A pronounced increase in heat transfer is seen as the gap between the plates is reduced following the theoretical predictions. In principle, near-field heat transfer could be used to control the temperature of an object without ever contacting it. This is an interesting possibility for cooling the sensitive mirrors in future gravity wave detectors.

Using recent data from the LIGO interferometers, LIGO scientists have been able to constrain the fractional energy density in gravitational waves to < 6.9 x10-6 (at 95% confidence) in a ~100 Hz band around 100 Hz. This number improves on indirect limits on the gravitational wave background obtained from the relative abundance of light elements in the very early universe (Big Bang Nucleosynthesis). The attached figure shows various limits on the gravitational wave background and predictions from three different models (inflation, pre-Big Bang cosmology, and cosmic strings). The indirect limits are from Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and the Cosmic Microwave Background; the direct limits are from the LIGO S4 and S5 science data (see attached paper), and from pulsar timing data. Projected limits from the advanced LIGO detectors, the CMB Planck satellite mission, and the proposed space-based interferometer LISA are also shown. More...

We study the fluctuation-induced, time-dependent force between two plates confining a correlated fluid which is driven out of equilibrium mechanically by harmonic vibrations of one of the plates. For a purely relaxational dynamics of the fluid we calculate the fluctuation-induced force generated by the vibrating plate on the plate at rest. The time-dependence of this force is characterized by a positive lag time with respect to the driving. We obtain two distinctive contributions to the force, one generated by diffusion of stress in the fluid and another related to resonant dissipation in the cavity. The relation to the dynamic Casimir effect of the electromagnetic field and possible experiments to measure the time-dependent Casimir force are discussed. More...

Department of Physics and Astronomy • UTB • One West University Boulevard • Brownsville, TX 78520
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