Richard L Weaver

Professor Emeritus


Richard L Weaver

Primary Research Area

  • Cross-cutting Physics
4115 Engineering Sciences Building


Professor Richard Weaver received an A.B. degree in physics from Washington University in St Louis in 1971 and a Ph.D in astrophysics from Cornell University in 1977. He came to Illinois in 1981 after a research associateship in theoretical elastic wave propagation and ultrasonics at Cornell. He was elected a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America in 1996 and received the Hetenyi Award from the Society for Experimental Mechanics in 2004. He is associate editor of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Formerly a professor in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Illinois, he joined the Department of Physics in 2006.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Design and analysis and numerical simulations of self-synchronizing sets of mechanical auto-oscillators, eccentric DC motors on plates, with a view towards emulation of lasing.

Large scale numerical simulations of stochastic seismic wave propagation.

Research Statement

Ultrasonic Analog for a Random Laser (with colleagues Oleg Lobkis, UIUC, and Alexey Yamilov, U Missouri) — We report measurements on ultrasonic systems analogous to random lasers. An auto-oscillating, and spontaneously emitting, piezoelectric device is found to emit more energetically when stimulated by an incident wave field. The emission is at the same frequency as the stimulating field, and with a phase relation corresponding to super radiance. Over a wide range of parameters we observe narrow single emission lines, sensitivity to linear cavity properties, complex multi-mode emissions, and line narrowing. Line widths are more narrow than we can measure. Theory suggests they have Schawlow–Townes widths as low as 10-9 Hz. Systems of several such oscillators are observed to self-organize into a coherent state with power emission that rises faster than the first power of the number of oscillators.

Statistical Elastodynamics of Large Structures and Quantum Chaos (with Oleg Lobkis, UIUC, and Thomas Seligman, Centro de Ciencias Fisicas, UNAM) — Numerical simulations, analytic theory and laboratory measurements are used to study the statistics of linear waves in complex systems. Particular attention is paid to wave energy density (or probability for quantum waves), and its mean flow and fluctuations. We seek methods to predict mean flow and fluctuations over long times, based on information in ray optics or direct numerical simulations over short times.

Seismic Noise Correlations (with M Campillo, B van Tiggelen and E Larose, U Joseph Fourier, and O Lobkis UIUC and X Song UIUC Geology) — Recent attention to diffuse fields in seismology, inspired in part by laboratory experiments done at UIUC, is leading to new methods for probing the interior of the earth. We observe and exploit mesoscopic residual correlations in nominally incoherent multiply scattered elastic wave fields, on the moon, in the seismic coda, in local geophone noise, and in long period world-wide background seismicity.

Determination of Thin-Film Interfacial Properties by Laser Generated Stress Waves (with N Sottos UIUC MatSE) — We investigate, both theoretically and experimentally, the generation of high-amplitude compression waves due to the sudden deposition of heat from a YAG laser pulse in a thin metallic film between two solids. The resulting pulse, with a duration of 10 nsec and a strain amplitude of the order of 1%, is measured using laser interferometry. Particular issues of concern include the effects of nonlinearity in the wave propagation and the corresponding development of shocks, and mode conversion at oblique interfaces with consequent generation of high-amplitude shear waves. Each of these effects is critical in ultimate application to the testing, by high-speed stress loading, of thin-film coatings.

Graduate Research Opportunities

Theory and large scale numerical simulations of stochastic wave propagation with a view towards applications in seismology, in particular the retrieval of information on the earth's structure and its changes from analysis of seismic noise correlations.

Research Honors

  • Eotvos Award of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (2009)
  • Society of Experimental Mechanics, Hetenyi Award (2004)
  • Fellow, Acoustical Society of America (1996)

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Spring 2019PHYS 325
Spring 2015PHYS 325
Fall 2014PHYS 326
Spring 2014PHYS 325
Fall 2013PHYS 326
Spring 2013PHYS 325
Fall 2010PHYS 211

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • Research
  • Astrophysics/Cosmology

In its search for extrasolar planets, the Kepler space telescope looks for stars whose light flux periodically dims, signaling the passing of an orbiting planet in front of the star. But the timing and duration of diminished light flux episodes Kepler detected coming from KIC 846852, known as Tabby’s star, are a mystery. These dimming events vary in magnitude and don’t occur at regular intervals, making an orbiting planet an unlikely explanation. The source of these unusual dimming events is the subject of intense speculation. Suggestions from astronomers, astrophysicists, and amateur stargazers have ranged from asteroid belts to alien activity.  

Now a team of scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—physics graduate student Mohammed Sheikh, working with Professors Karin Dahmen and Richard Weaver—proffer an entirely novel solution to the Tabby’s star puzzle. They suggest the luminosity variations may be intrinsic to the star itself.