Physics & Applied Physics

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

The Doctor of Philosophy program in Physics and Applied Physics is designed to develop advanced competence in Physics. The Physics course of study prepares the student to carry out original and independent research in physics, while the Applied Physics Options provide training for professional work in several areas of applied physics and allied engineering disciplines.

Graduate Credits

At least 60 graduate credit hours are required, of which at least 15 and at most 24 are to be Ph.D. Dissertation Research. At most 3 credits of Physics Colloquium and seminar courses may be applied to the 60 credit requirement.

Colloquia

All full-time doctoral candidates are required to attend Physics Colloquium, PHYS.7010/7020, each semester.

Seminars

All full-time doctoral candidates are required to take at least one physics seminar, in addition to Colloquium, each semester. After a student has presented a seminar in PHYS.7110/7120 (s)he may substitute one of the other seminars offered by the Department.

Computer Skills

All candidates are required to demonstrate proficiency in computer programming, which may be accomplished by passing the Departmental computer language exam or by achieving a grade of at least B in courses such as FORTRAN Programming or Introduction to Pascal, or by demonstrating equivalent competence to the Physics Department.

Comprehensive Examination

All candidates must pass a written and oral Physics Comprehensive Examination. Students in pure Physics are expected to take this examination in their first year; those in the Applied Physics options, in their second year. The examination covers I. Classical mechanics, II. Electricity and magnetism, and III. Quantum mechanics, modern physics and statistical mechanics at the advanced undergraduate level. In addition Part I includes some elementary thermo-dynamics and Part II elementary optics. Part III is replaced by a section on radiological sciences and protection for students in that option and is based on the advanced undergraduate course requirements in Radiological Health Physics. For students in the Atmospheric Sciences Option, Part III is replaced by a section in atmospheric sciences, demonstrating a basic understanding of atmospheric structure and dynamics.

Graduate Research Admission Examination

Before commencing Ph.D. dissertation research each doctoral candidate must pass two semesters of Advanced Projects in Physics PHYS.7310/7320 and defend this project in an oral examination before a committee of the Physics graduate faculty. Students who have already completed a master’s thesis in Physics or a related discipline may apply for a waiver of the Advanced Projects requirement. However, if the M.S. degree is from another institution the student must make an oral presentation of the M.S. work before a committee of the Physics Faculty in order to satisfy the Graduate Research Admission Examination requirement. Alternatively, a one-semester M.S. project may be substituted for one semester of Advanced Project on the recommendation of the student's research supervisor. The Graduate Research Admission Examination must be passed before a student may submit a Ph.D. dissertation proposal.

Dissertation

The dissertation is to be based upon original research performed under the supervision of a member or adjunct member of the Physics Faculty (or the Faculty of a Department participating in a joint program with the Physics Department) holding an earned doctoral degree. If a student wishes to do a dissertation under the supervision of a faculty member in another department, the student must also have a co-supervisor who is a member of the Physics Faculty. Ph.D. candidates must submit to the Department, for its approval, eleven copies of a typewritten proposal briefly describing the research to be carried out. The proposal must bear the written approval of the research supervisor. A student may not register for Ph.D. Dissertation Research, until the Comprehensive Examination and the Graduate Research Admission Examination have been passed. Furthermore, the dissertation proposal must be submitted prior to or during the first semester in which the student is registered for Ph.D. dissertation research. Students registered for Ph.D. Thesis must submit a brief progress report on the research to the Graduate Coordinator each semester unless a thesis is submitted. After completing the work, the student must submit four copies of a typewritten dissertation to the Department. The student must then pass an oral examination, administered by a Dissertation Committee appointed by the Physics Graduate Coordinator, based on, but not necessarily limited to, the dissertation work.

 Physics

The Physics program includes the following areas of study:

  • Nuclear Physics
  • Solid State Physics
  • Laser Physics
  • Photonics
  • Optics
  • Submillimeter Wave Science Technology
  • Advanced Materials
  • Nonlinear Optics
  • Nanomaterials and Technology
  • Theory of Elementary Particles
  • Atomic Physics
  • Quantum Field Theory

The following courses are required:

PHYS.6050/6060 Mathematical Methods of Physics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.6110 Classical Mechanics (3-0)3
PHYS.6150/6160 Quantum Mechanics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.6570/6580 Electromagnetic Theory I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.6170 Advanced Quantum Mechanics I (3-0)3
PHYS.7310L*Advanced Projects in Physics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6

*This requirement may be waived for students who have written a Master’s thesis in Physics or a related discipline. Electives may be chosen from the list of courses acceptable for graduate credit in Physics. Some graduate courses offered by other departments may also be acceptable for graduate credit in physics, but only with the approval of the Physics Department.

 Applied Physics Options

Students in Applied Physics Options may select a program of study and research in one of the following areas:

1. Physics/Energy Engineering Option
(a) Nuclear Energy
(b) Solar Energy
2. Physics/Applied Mechanics Option
3. Atmospheric Sciences Option
4. Physics/Radiological Sciences Option

The above options are official degree program options and will be so noted on the transcript. Areas 1, 2 and 3 are interdisciplinary programs with the Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the Department of Environmental, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, respectively. Area 4 is an extension of the Master of Science degree program in Radiological Sciences and Protection.

General Required Courses

Every student in an Applied Physics Ph.D. Option must satisfy the following course requirements:

(a) PHYS.5130 Classical Mechanics (3-0)3
PHYS.5530/5540 Electromagnetism I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.5350 Intro Quantum Mechanics I (3-0)3
PHYS.6050 Mathematical Methods of Physics I (3-0)3
(b) Six or eight credits from among the following courses, or their equivalents, as appropriate for each option:
PHYS.6110 Classical Mechanics (3-0)3
PHYS.5210 Statistical Thermodynamics (3-0)3
PHYS.5610/6620 Nuclear Physics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.6150/6160 Quantum Mechanics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.6170/6180 Advanced Quantum Mechanics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.6570/6580 Electromagnetic Theory I,II (3-0)(3-0)6
PHYS.6600 Quantum Mechanics of Many Particle Systems (3-0)3
(c) PHYS.7310L/7320L Advanced Projects in Physics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6 or the equivalent in the department appropriate to the student’s chosen field of concentration. This may be waived for students who have completed a master’s thesis.

 Physics/Energy Engineering Option

In addition to the general requirements, students in this option must take

PHYS.5360 Intro Quantum Mechanics II (3-0)3
PHYS.6060 Mathematical Methods of Physics II (3-0)3 and at least seven additional courses from among the Physics, Energy Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering offerings at the graduate level. These seven courses should include required courses appropriate to either the Solar or Nuclear energy specialization.

 Applied Mechanics Option

In addition to the general requirements, students in this option must take

PHYS.5360 Intro Quantum Mechanics II (3-0)3
PHYS.6060 Mathematical Methods of Physics II (4-0)4 and at least two graduate courses from the Mechanical Engineering Department, the courses to be determined by the student’s academic and research advisers.

 Atmospheric Sciences Option

In addition to the general requirements, 12 credits of core courses and 15 credits of elective courses. One credit is for atmospheric/environmental seminar. For core and elective course descriptions, see Environmental Studies (Atmospheric Sciences Concentration).

 Radiological Sciences Option

In addition to the general requirements, students in this option must take the following courses:

PHYS.5360 Intro Quantum Mechanics II (3-0)3
PHYS.6060 Mathematical Methods of Physics II (4-0)4
PHYS.5610/6620 Nuclear Physics I,II (3-0)(3-0)6 and at least twelve credits from among the following graduate level Radiological Sciences and Protection courses, assuming the core courses for the Master of Science Degree in Radiological Sciences and Protection have already been completed.
RADI.5220 Envir. Radiation & Nuc. Site Criteria (3-0)3
RADI.5610/5620 Special Topics in Radiological Sciences(3-0)3
RADI.6630 Intro. to Radiation Chemistry (3-0)3
RADI.6080 Environmental Toxicology & Epidemiology (3-0)3
RADI.6130 Environmental Monitoring & Surveillance (3-0)3
RADI.6140 External Radiation Dosimetry (3-0)3
RADI.6150 Internal Radiation Dosimetry (3-0)3
RADI.6160 Data Reduction for Rad. Sci. & Protection (3-0)3
RADI.6200 Environmental Impact Statements (3-0)3
RADI.6250 Medical Health Physics (3-0)3
RADI.6460 Accelerator Health Physics (3-0)3
RADI.6510 Intro to Electronic Product Radiation (3-0)3
RADI.6660 Reactor Health Physics (3-0)3
RADI.6810 Medical Physics (3-0)3
RADI.6820 Medical Physics Laboratory (0-9)3

Note: It is expected that the requirements for the Master of Science degree in Radiological Sciences and Protection will be met during the first four semesters if the student has not already earned an M.S. degree.