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Deborah Watson

Deborah K. Watson

Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor Emeritus

Atomic, Molecular, & Optical Physics

A photo of Deborah Watson.



Office: NH 229




Ph.D. Harvard University (1977)


My research in theoretical atomic physics studies ultracold systems of fermions that exhibit superfluid behavior. My approach uses a method called symmetry-invariant perturbation theory which uses group theory and graphical techniques to avoid the heavy numerical demands of typical theoretical approaches. The Pauli principle is applied at first order "on paper" using the known Pauli restrictions for independent particles to select the allowed quantum numbers in the interacting system. The solutions at first order are normal modes which have been used successfully to produce results for several properties: energies, excitation frequencies, critical temperatures, entropies and the specific heat, in agreement with both experimental data and other theoretical approaches. These calculations have demonstrated an interesting result: two-body pairing is not necessary to describe superfluidity for ultracold Fermi gases. This normal mode approach has resulted in reimagining the microscopic basis of superfluidity and reinterpreting the seminal concepts of Cooper pairs, the Fermi sea, and Pauli blocking.

 Deborah Watson CV

Awards & Honors

  • Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professorship
  • Regents' Award for Superior Research & Creative Activity
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society