Research at HEPL spans a broad spectrum over a number of Stanford departments and schools, including cross-departmental collaborations.
The study of fundamental particles and interactions builds the foundations of our understanding of the natural world. Over the last several years, discoveries in this area have moved from a few accelerator labs around the world to a more diffuse collection of projects, many of them of smaller magnitude than traditional accelerator experiment.
In the past decade, methods adapted from experimental physics have transformed our understanding of the nervous system, in areas ranging from optical imaging to large scale electrical recordings. In the future, deeper exploration of massively parallel neural networks in the brain requires the precision, bandwidth, and quantitative analysis that are well-developed in physics.
A hot topic and rapidly growing research field in science and technology is in the broad area of Quantum Information (QI). Foundational work in QI is being done in theoretical physics, math and computer science, with leading experimental efforts in atomic, condensed matter, and low temperature physics.
The Universe is home to numerous exotic and beautiful phenomena, some of which can generate almost inconceivable amounts of energy. Supermassive black holes, merging neutron stars, streams of hot gas moving close to the speed of light ... these are but a few of the marvels that generate gamma-ray radiation, the most energetic form of radiation, billions of times more energetic than the type of light visible to our eyes. What is happening to produce this much energy? What happens to the surrounding environment near these phenomena? How will studying these energetic objects add to our understanding of the very nature of the Universe and how it behaves? Projects include the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI), an instrument currently on board the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft and part of an international collaboration to study the interior structure and dynamics of the Sun. Another project, the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) investigation, is based on measurements obtained with the HMI instrument as part of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) mission.