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College of Arts and Sciences

William L. Schaich

William L. Schaich Professor
Condensed Matter (Theoretical)

B.S., Denison University, 1966.
M.S., Cornell University, 1968.
Ph.D., Cornell University, 1970.
Postdoctoral Positions: University of Bristol, University of California at San Diego

Phone: Swain West 163 (812) 855-2402
Email: schaich at

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Schaich's work is concentrated on the problems of electrodynamics near surfaces, with the goals of both fundamental understanding and contact with experiments.

Current work is concentrated on the optical response of microscopically structured surfaces. We have developed computer codes based on a variety of theoretical approaches. For simple frequency-selective surfaces (where simple means that structures are thin compared to the penetration depth of the probing light), we have codes that employ the method of moments with the moments parametrizing the patterns of induced currents. For more general configurations, we have set up simulations using the finite-difference-time-domain (fdtd) method. These solve Maxwell's equations on a discrete mesh in both space and time. With all these codes we can study both far field properties (like reflection, transmission, and absorption) as well as near field properties (like field and current distributions). These studies are being used to design and interpret several current experiments.

A new research direction has been stimulated by the recent controversy over the behavior of so-called negative index materials. Our approach is to produce movies showing the propagation of a pulse of light as it encounters such material. This allows one to "see" clearly what happens.

Selected Publications

  • "Dynamical theory calculations of spin-echo resolved grazing incidence scattering from a diffraction grating", Jour. Appl. Cryst. 43 455 (2010), with R. Ashkar, P. Stonaha, A.L. Washington, V.R. Shah, M.R. Fitzsimmons, B. Maranville, C.F. Majkrzak, W.T. Lee, and R. Pynn.
  • "Second harmonic generation by periodically-structured metal surfaces", Phys. Rev. B78, 195416 (2008).
  • "Narrow-band, tunable infrared emissions from arrays of microstrip patches", Appl. Phys. Letts. 92, 233102 (2008), with I. Puscasu.
  • "Wavepacket propagation into a negative index medium", Am. Jour.Phys.72, 1232 (2004), with X Huang.