Dr. Gordon W. F. Drake

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Dr. Gordon W. Drake, Chair
Ms. Petrona Parungo, Secretary
Department of Physics
Room 288-3 Essex Hall North
University of Windsor
Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9B 3P4
Phone (519) 253-3000 ext. 2647
Fax (519) 973-7075
Email: physics@uwindsor.ca
Faculty & Staff Information Sheet

Personal Information:

Title: Dr.
First Name: Gordon W. F.
Last Name: Drake
Degrees: (University Professor and Head of Department); B.Sc. (McGill), M.Sc. (Western Ontario), Ph.D. (York), F.Inst.P., F.R.S.C., APS Fellow-1969. (Killam Research Fellow, 1990-1992)
Employee Type: Faculty
Rank/Job Title: Professor and Chair, Department of Physics

Contact Information:

Office Location: 288-8PESSX
Office Ext.: 2647
Web site:
Email: gdrake@uwindsor.ca

Research Interest:
Research Interests and Current Projects:
Theoretical Atomic Physics
Atomic physics provides the basic testing ground for our understanding of matter and its interactions with radiation. Recent developments in laser technology and experimental techniques now make possible measurements of transition frequencies and other atomic processes, of unprecedented precision. These advances pose a constant challenge to theorists to perform calculations of comparable precision which can test the agreement between theory and experiment. Subtle effects arising from relativity, quantum electrodynamics, and long-range retardation effects must be taken into account. This research has recently resulted in a dramatic improvement in the accuracy that can be achieved in calculations for atomic systems containing two or three electrons. The calculations are setting a new stand rd for accuracy, and are opening the way to a wide range of new high-precision comparisons between theory and experiment. High-lying Rydberg states are becoming accessible to high-precision calculations for the first time. A comparison with experiment is showing the first clear evidence for long-range Casimir-Polder retardation effects in the interaction of a highly excited electron with the ionic core of an atom. Many other topics such as the theory of radiative transitions, multiphoton processes and autoionization are included in this research program.

A strong feature of this work is a close interaction with experimental groups both in Windsor and at other institutions. In Windsor an ongoing collaboration with A. Van Wijngaarden dates back to 1975, pioneeering a new method of measuring the Lamb shift -- one of the fundamental tests of quantum electrodynamics -- and the self-energy of the electron. This work has led to several other fundamental experimental studies, and has recently resulted in the most accurate Lamb shift measurement reported in the literature for the He+ ion.

A particularly exciting project now nearing completion involves a determination of the fine-structure constant from a comparison of theory and high-precision measurements of the fine-structure splittings in the triplet-P states of helium. We have developed techniques for extending basic atomic theory to include higher-order quantum-electrodynamic effects in order to obtain sufficient accuracy in the calculations. The corresponding measurements are being done at several other laboratories such as Harvard, Florence, and the University of Northern Texas.


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