Senior CC physics major Evan Ranken published research done with Parampreet Singh at Louisiana State University in the journal Physical Review D. The article is titled "Non-singular Power-law and Assisted Inflation in Loop Quantum Cosmology" and it presents work that started as an REU (research experience for undergraduates program) and continued through this last winter. Following is a brief description of the topic, below which is a url where the article can be accessed.
Loop quantum gravity is a leading background-independent and non-perturbative method of quantizing gravity. It is perhaps best known for its mention on TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory as an alternative to string theory, another proposed theory of quantum gravity which has gained more public attention. In loop quantum gravity, unlike in string theory, space and time themselves become quantized, and evolve as a self-propagating medium over discrete time steps without the need for a continuous background of any sort. This discrete quantum evolution has been shown to be well approximated by an effective continuum spacetime description in some scenarios, including what has been called loop quantum cosmology (LQC). One of the most significant results of LQC is that in all cases studied thus far the big bang singularity, which many physicists think is an artifact of general relativity to be corrected by quantum gravity theories, is replaced by a non-singular "big bounce." We study the behavior of scalar fields with exponential self-interaction potentials in the framework of loop quantum cosmology, finding that the big bang singularity is resolved as expected. We then examine single and multiple-field inflation dynamics, which special attention paid to the phase of "super-inflation" which comes from quantum geometrical effects absent in standard cosmologies. We analyze thoroughly the dynamics of these scalar fields in LQC, and show that the framework of LQC has the potential to add significant amounts of inflation on top of the classical theory.