Laboratory for Atomic and Surface Physics

Dr. Raúl A. Baragiola, Director

We study the interaction of energetic particles (ions, electrons) and photons with surfaces. Our goals are to understand the mechanisms leading to electronic excitations and how these excitations evolve and lead to the emission of light (luminescence), electrons, radiation, atoms and molecules (sputtering and photodesorption), and to radiation damage, chemical changes or heat. We currently study metals, rare gas solids, condensed molecular gases, ultrathin carbon foils, diamond, minerals, oxides and rocks. The studies are driven by interest in fundamental phenomena and by applications to astrophysics, space exploration, semiconductor processing, nuclear fusion, gas discharges and biology. We recently started studying ozone generation by triboelectricity generated by rock fracture, with potential widespread applications in Earth and Environmental Scieences.

On applied physics and engineering, we work on the development of instrumentation for space research that fly in current missions (CASSINI) and proposed for future space missions.

We also study the basic science of low-temperature water ice and other condensed gases, optical properties of materials from the vacuum ultraviolet to the far infrared, and fundamental processes in surface physics and surface chemistry.

A substantial part of our work consists in modeling and laboratory simulations of surface processes in icy satellites, planetary atmospheres and magnetospheres, and astrochemistry on interstellar grains. Our work is supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation. 

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