Course Summary

Course Description

Applied physics relates to science for the benefit of society through invention, development and improvement of technological devices, products and services. Students choosing the APH concentration will be trained to understand, design and manage these technologies as corporate or government employees and will also be well-equipped to pursue graduate study in sciences or engineering.

Career Possibilities

  • New Product Development Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Technical Sales Representative
  • Instrument Scientist
  • Research Scientist

Major Foundation Requirements

NS300 / Physical Characteristics of Molecules and Photons

Explore the physical and chemical properties of matter through phase diagrams, thermodynamic equilibria, and kinetics. Investigate energetic properties of materials and their interaction with electromagnetic fields through elastic and inelastic/fluorescent scattering of light. Apply these principles to analyze, decompose, and contribute to the development of important technological products and processes.

NS301 / The Implications of Organic and Inorganic Cycles

Take an in-depth look at the origin and chemistry of carbon compounds, water, nitrogen, and metals, including their physical properties and their roles in life on Earth. The Earth’s carbon cycle including photosynthesis, respiration and weathering as well as technological applications of various forms of carbon in food, energy utilization and storage. The uses of analytical tools such as isotope ratios in geology and archeology. The role of molecular nitrogen in the atmosphere and its assimilation into organic matter, its oxidation-reduction cycle its impact on the energy cost of modern agriculture.

NS302 / Modifications of Biological Architecture and Programming

Evolution is the fundamental unifying principle of all biological processes: metabolism, regulatory processes, signal transduction, neuronal excitation, mechano-chemical structures and their function, differentiation, programmed cell death, and proliferation in both individual organisms and community life. Study Darwin’s insight into natural selection in the context of biochemical adaptations of life. Explore the development of resistance in organisms that results from imposed stresses in various ecosystems, including human health and disease states.

Concentration Core Requirements

NS310 / Materials Science and Engineering

Focus on the chemistry and physics of solid materials, addressing the nature of crystalline solids and the effect of structure as well as imperfections and dislocations on mechanical properties. Study electrical and solid-state semiconductor physics and applications to computing. Topics also include polymers, composites and ceramics.

NS311 / Energy Sciences in the 21st Century

How do forms of energy — including the equivalence in work and heat — apply to planetary, biological and chemical energy storage and utilization? Explore energy conversion, common thermodynamic processes and thermodynamic cycles. Students assess current scientific, environmental and sociopolitical issues concerning fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy.

NS312 / Applications in Mechanics of Rigid Bodies

Learn to describe the kinematics of rigid bodies by applying classical Newtonian laws of motion as well as Lagrangian and Hamiltonian forms. Investigate their application to motion monitoring and control in planetary science, automated vehicle control and robotic systems, and other technologies as well as to solid and fluid mechanics.

Concentration Electives

NS315 / Thermodynamics and Transport

Study equilibrium, states and reversibility, followed by nonequilibrium thermodynamics involving transport, rates of reactions and the nature of the second law. Learn about Fermi problems and their application to technologies involving state variable changes and under what conditions equilibrium or nonequilibrium may best characterize a specific technology.

NS316 / Condensed Matter and Fluid Mechanics

Apply Newton’s second law to solids and fluids, and conservation laws to static and dynamic systems. Solve problems involving the relation between forces to deflections, stress to strain or rate of strain. Specify and apply the appropriate constitutive laws of materials and use them in design and in numerical simulations of technological structures.

NS325 / System Identification and Feedback Control

Characterize a system by designing experiments to test it. Apply inputs and measure outputs to understand system response, and study the concepts behind multiparameter experiment design as a method of characterizing a system. This course also introduces the fundamentals of using feedback control to impose desired system behavior.

NS411 / Electromagnetics, Optics, and Lasers

Discuss the nature of electricity and magnetism, as well as their mathematical unification by James Maxwell — which defines classical electromagnetism. Students explore the application of these principles to electric motors, generators and geometric optics. Also delve into the photoelectric effect, blackbody radiation and the discovery of quantum mechanics, with further study of the laser and fluorescence.

NS412 / Biophysics

Research the tools used to characterize biological molecules and biophysical processes — electron and atomic force microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, x-ray diffraction, and other light scattering methods. Study recent advances in the use of optical tweezers in the measurement of piconewton forces, and discuss centrifugation, electrophoresis and dielectrophoresis. Also exploit structural databases and explore the hydrodynamics of biological macromolecules, viscosity, translational and rotational diffusion, chromatography, conductance, water (as a solvent), polyelectrolytes, and Debye-Hückel theory.

NS413 / Statistical Mechanics: The Emergent Behavior of Molecules

Discuss the way that microscopic behavior of collections of molecules leads to the macroscopic properties of materials — such as temperature and pressure — of an isolated system in equilibrium. Study Ludwig Boltzmann, particle velocity distributions and thermodynamic ensembles in the context of new instrumentation and technology.

NS415 / Astrophysics

Astrophysics is the observational and theoretical science of objects in the universe. Grasp the tools and methods of observing the electromagnetic spectrum of stars, planets, galaxies, and other objects. Then review in-depth the evolution of stars, magnetohydrodynamics, the fundamentals of general relativity, and recent advances in understanding of dark matter.

NS416 / Quantum Mechanics and Technology

Zoom in on events at microscopic scales (on the order of the Planck constant), where interactions of energy and matter can behave differently than as predicted by classical physics. This course covers wave-particle duality, the double-slit experiment, the Schrodinger equation, and Heisenberg’s uncertainty relations, with an emphasis on technological innovations based on these ideas.

NS417 / Epistemology and Evidence—From the Philosophical to the Practical

The nature and limits of knowledge, and particularly how they pertain to sources of evidence in historical trend analysis. How do people know what they know? Is science just another faith-based system, or does the scientific method have objective validity? Examine how historians acquire data and how they assess its validity and accuracy. Are there hierarchies of knowledge or is knowledge binary? Dissect the assumptions, foundations and methods of science, and study the theories of Hempel, Kuhn, Lakatos, Suppes, Dretske and Heisenberg.

NS510 / Advanced Energy Sources and Conversion

Many advances in nuclear power and radiation are also associated with nuclear accidents. Examine this dilemma as well as the various nuclear reactor fuels and societal strategies for disposing of radioactive waste. Teams investigate renewable energy including biofuels, advanced hydrocarbon fuels, solar, wind and ocean power.

NS511 / Particle Physics: The Building Blocks of Atoms

Subatomic particles include electrons, neutrons and protons, as well as the so-called elementary particles that include quarks, leptons, gluons, W and Z bosons, photons, and Higgs particles. Learn the research tools required to detect such particles, applications of particle beams in the study of matter through scattering and decay processes, and biomedical applications like proton beam therapy.

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