College of Sciences

Department of Physics and Applied Physics

The Department of Physics and Applied Physics offers programs leading to the degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy.

The M.S. degree may be taken in physics or radiological science and protection (health physics) or in the applied physics option in optical sciences. Course requirements for the M.S. program consist of a total of 30 credits, including work on a thesis or project. The M.S. may serve as a basis for further study toward a Ph.D. degree. Students are expected to complete the M.S. program in two years.

The Ph.D. program requires 60 credits, including thesis research. Candidates for the degree must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination and a doctoral research admission examination (taken after successfully completing two semesters of an advanced research project) and demonstrate a proficiency in computer programming. Areas of research include experimental and theoretical nuclear physics, experimental and theoretical solid-state physics and material science, optics,laser physics and far infrared spectroscopy, scattering theory, quantum optics, relativity, particle physics, atmospheric and environmental physics, energy applications, applied mechanics, and radiological sciences.

Research Programs 

Members of the Department are engaged in research programs in the following areas in which opportunities for advanced degree research are offered:

  • Nuclear Physics,
  • Solid State Physics,
  • Laser Physics,
  • Optics,
  • Submillimeter-Wave Science and Technology,
  • Theory of Elementary Particles,
  • Quantum Field Theory,
  • Atomic Physics,
  • Relativity,
  • Atmospheric Physics,
  • Nuclear and Solar Energy,
  • Applied Mechanics,
  • Computational Physics,
  • Radiological Sciences and Medical Physics.

Areas of study in nuclear physics include high-resolution neutron scattering, fission-product properties, and high-spin nuclear states (work conducted at national heavy-ion accelerators via in-beam gamma-ray spectroscopy).

Research equipment includes

  • a 5.5-MeV Van de Graaff accelerator,
  • neutron time-of-flight spectrometer,
  • helium-jet fission-product transfer system,
  • fast neutron irradiation facility,
  • MW nuclear research reactor,
  • 400-kilocurie Co-60 source for gamma-ray irradiation.

Principal areas of optics research include Raman, fluorescence, UV-visible-near-IR spectroscopy, and characterization of nonlinear optical properties of polymeric and semiconductor materials.

Solid state physics and materials science studies include photonic and opto-electronic devices, polymers and biological materials.

Research equipment includes

  • an advanced materials characterization laboratory,
  • transmission and scanning electron microscopy,
  • x-ray analysis and surface science facilities,
  • photonics and optoelectronics device development laboratory,
  • molecular beam epitaxy,
  • lithography of thin films, and
  • epilayer characterization facilities.

The Submillimeter-Wave Science and Technology Laboratory develops coherent sources, receivers and novel imaging systems for application at terahertz frequencies. Research equipment includes microwave through infrared spectrometers for design and characterization of material dielectric properties, a CO2 and far-infrared laser magnetospectroscopy facility, and submillimeter-wave compact ranges for electromagnetic scattering studies.

Entering Graduate Students

Every entering graduate student is assigned a departmental adviser who will counsel the student on programs of study and other academic requirements serve as registration officer, help the student to become acquainted with research opportunities in the Department, and assist in selecting a research supervisor. In addition to the requirements for admission, applicants must submit the official test score report for the GRE general test; the Physics subject test is recommended, but not required. Applicants for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics are expected to have a sound background in intermediate level mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, and modern physics. Any student found deficient in any of these areas may be required to take appropriate courses to remove the deficiency. Students in the Radiological Sciences and Protection M.S. program should have adequate preparation in mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology and nuclear and radiological sciences similar to the undergraduate curriculum in Radiological Health Physics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.