Physics

Applied Physics—MS, PhD

Applied physics bridges the gap between physics, engineering, and other sciences. While engineers solve well-defined problems, applied physicists focus on applying physics interdisciplinary. At Michigan Technological University, the applied physics program targets areas such as nanoscale condensed matter, materials science, atmospheric physics, optics/photonics, optoelectronics, plasmonics, and biomedical science.  

Students choosing the applied physics major create a customized program of study. In addition to taking some core graduate level physics courses, students choose from a wider selection of courses, inside and outside the Department of Physics to gain specialized knowledge in their chosen interdisciplinary research area.

"Having a pure physics background, but wanting to study the atmosphere, I was thrilled to discover that Michigan Tech had an applied physics program that allowed for specialization in atmospheric science. I was able to combine traditional graduate physics courses with special courses in cloud physics, geophysical fluid dynamics, and remote sensing. My research focused on investigating cloud drop size distributions using a lidar-radar system"M Amanda Shaw, 2016, Applied Physics MS
 

State-Of-The-Art Laboratory Facilities

The physics department boasts exceptional research labs and facilities. A recent $2.5 million renovation provided major upgrades in physics classroom technology, and a new $700,000 gift is enabling a major upgrade to physics research facilities. Physics hosts seven labs, ranging from computer labs with state-of-the-art software packages to atomic and molecular laser spectroscopy labs. Researchers also have access to other departments’ research labs, including scanning electron microscopy labs and other advanced characterization and fabrication facilities. 

PhD Versus MS

The PhD program (regarded as the terminal degree within the field) consists of substantial graduate-level coursework combined with original research leading to significant contributions to the field of physics through publications in peer-reviewed journals. An MS in physics may be obtained while in pursuit of the PhD.

Both the MS and PhD programs build on a foundational set of six core courses plus additional electives. Well-prepared students will need a minimum of 12 months to complete their MS degree requirements while PhD students typically spend five years.

Degree Requirements

Credit requirements, degree options, time limits, examinations, and other requirements vary by degree:

Qualifying Exam

Students accepted into the Applied Physics PhD program must pass a Qualifying (Comprehensive) Examination, which is composed of a physics component and an application component. The physics component of the Qualifying Examination will be the same as for students in the Physics PhD program, except Applied Physics PhD students will select, in advance, three out of the four areas to take. The student's advisory committee shall formulate the application component of the qualifying examination appropriate to the student's chosen area of applied physics interest—focusing on fundamentals related to but not on the student's current research.

Core Courses

Certain courses are considered foundational for all graduate students (both MS or PhD) in physics, regardless of research specialty. Course work has been selected to provide a general physics education and a foundation for future study and a career in engineering and the sciences.

Applied physics students select a minimum of 10 PH credits at the 4000-level or higher including a minimum of 6 credits from the list below (PH5010 is compulsory).

PH 5010 - Graduate Journal Club

Presentation and discussion of current issues in physics and recent research by departmental faculty and others. One credit in journal club is required for all graduate degrees in physics. Attendance is required in the physics department colloquium series.
Credits: 1.0; Graded Pass/Fail Only
Lec-Rec-Lab: (0-1-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 5110 - Classical Mechanics

Lagrangian methods, symmetries and conservation laws, variational formulation, small oscillations, Hamilton's equations, contact transformations, Poisson brackets, Hamilton-Jacobi theory, Lorentz-invariant formulation.
Credits: 2.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (2-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2002-2003 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 5210 - Electrodynamics I

Electrostatics and magnetostatics, boundary value problems, multipoles, Maxwell's equations, time-dependent fields, propagating wave solutions, radiation.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate
Pre-Requisite(s): PH 5320

PH 5310 - Statistical Mechanics

Ensembles, partition functions and distributions, thermodynamic potentials, quantum statistics, ideal and nonideal gases, interacting systems. Applications may include classical and quantum liquids, phase transitions and critical phenomena, correlation functions, linear response and transport theory, or other topics.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2007-2008 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 5320 - Mathematical Physics

Partial differential equations of physics, separation of variables, boundary value problems, Sturm-Liouville theory, Legendre and Bessel functions, inhomogeneous partial differential equations, Green's functions. Fourier series, Fourier and Laplace transforms, complex variables, evaluation of integrals by contour integration, linear algebra, matrix methods with emphasis on numerical applications.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 5410 - Quantum Mechanics I

Study of the postulates of quantum mechanics framed in Dirac notation, the Heisenberg uncertainty relations, simple problems in one dimension, the harmonic oscillator, the principles of quantum dynamics, rotational invariance and angular momentum, spherically symmetric potentials including the hydrogen atom, and spin.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

Electives

To take advantage of Michigan Tech’s breadth and depth of engineering and scientific areas of specialty, additional courses may be chosen from the list of application elective course list, as approved by the student’s advisory committee.

Atmospheric Physics

ATM 5010 - Research Methods in Atmospheric Science

A study of measurement techniques used in atmospheric research including instruments used in the lab and field and an introduction to computational methods of analyzing and displaying atmospheric data using programming languages such as IDL.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (2-0-1)
Semesters Offered: Spring

ATM 5512 - Applied Boundary Layer Meteorology

Study of how forcing phenomena affect transport of water and chemicals in the atmospheric boundary layer and how this transport is measured in the field, including relevant aspects of fluid dynamics, boundary layer structure, surface energy balance, and flux measurement.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

ATM 5515 - Atmospheric Chemistry

Study of the photochemical processes governing the composition of the troposphere and stratosphere, with application to air pollution and climate change. Covers radical chain reaction cycles, heterogeneous chemistry, atmospheric radiative transfer and measurement techniques for atmospheric gases.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate
Pre-Requisite(s): CH 3510 or CH 3520 or ENVE 4504 or CEE 4504

ATM 5519 - Atmospheric Biogeochemistry

Study of the relationship between atmospheric composition, global change, and the circulation of major elements through the Earth system. Responses of ecosystem emissions to changes in landuse, biodiversity, nutrient supply, plant stressors, and climate change are discussed.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2010-2011 academic year
Restrictions: May not be enrolled in one of the following Class(es): Freshman, Sophomore, Junior
Pre-Requisite(s): CH 1150

ATM 5640 - Atmospheric Physics

Essential elements of atmospheric physics, including thermodynamics (e.g. adiabatic processes, phase transformations, stratification), aerosol and cloud physics (e.g. nucleation, Kohler theory, growth by condensation and collection), and radiative transfer (e.g. Beer's law, transfer equations with and without scattering).
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2008-2009 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate
Pre-Requisite(s): MA 3530 and PH 2300

ATM 5680 - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

Fundamentals forces and conservation laws that govern fluid flow; applications to the atmosphere and ocean, including balanced flow (pressure gradient and Coriolis Force), vorticity dynamics, turbulence, waves, and boundary layers.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year
Restrictions: May not be enrolled in one of the following Class(es): Freshman, Sophomore, Junior
Pre-Requisite(s): MA 3530 and PH 2300

CEE 4501 - Environmental Engineering Chemical Processes

Application of chemistry, conservation principles, and mathematics to the analysis of chemical processes occurring in natural and engineered environments. Topics include acid-base phenomena, the carbonate system, precipitation/dissolution, redox chemistry, diffusion, mass transfer, and applications to engineering design.
Credits: 4.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (0-3-3)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Pre-Requisite(s): (ENVE 3501 or CEE 3501 or ENVE 3503 or CEE 3503) and (ENVE 3502 or CEE 3502) and ENG 3200

CEE 4504 - Air Quality Engineering and Science

Overview of air quality regulation in the U.S. and world, including basic concepts of atmospheric chemistry and transport; fugitive, point, and area emissions; principles and tradeoffs of operation and design of air pollution control systems; and application of air quality models.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (0-3-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Pre-Requisite(s): ENVE 3501 or ENVE 3503 or CEE 3501 or CEE 3503

GE 4250 - Fundamentals of Remote Sensing

This course focuses on the basic physics behind above- surface remote sensing and remote sensing systems. Topics covered include: properties of the atmosphere, absorption and scattering of electromagnetic radiation, instrument design, data acquisition and processing, validation, and basic applications.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (2-1-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring
Restrictions: May not be enrolled in one of the following Class(es): Freshman, Sophomore
Pre-Requisite(s): PH 2200 and MA 2160

GE 5800 - Mathematical Modeling of Earth Systems

Introduction to numerical techniques for mathematical modeling of various earth-system phenomena, including groundwater flow, heat transfer, and atmospheric transport. Numerical techniques covered include finite-difference, finite-element, collocation, and characteristic methods. Students write their own mathematical models. Prerequisite: experience in programming computer languages such as FORTRAN.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (0-3-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

Biophysics

BE 5250 - Biomedical Optics

Light plays a significant role in modern clinical diagnostics and in the clinical treatment of disease. Examples include non-invasive surgery, optical biopsy, and cancer therapy. This course will focus on the study of how light propagates through biological tissue.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

BE 5550 - Biostatistics for Health Science Research

An overview course of biostatistical methods used in the health sciences. Topics include a review of undergraduate statistical concepts, NIH, CDC, and FDA guidelines for clinical trial research, proper use of biostatistical methods including anova models, logistic regression, risk analysis, survivorship analysis and any other statistical methods that are common in the enrolled students' discipline.
Credits: variable to 4.0
Semesters Offered: On Demand
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate
Pre-Requisite(s): MA 2720 or MA 3710

BL 5035 - Bioimaging

Current concepts in light and electron microscopy and scanning probe techniques. Theory and practice of fluorescence (including confocal and multi-photon), atomic force, scanning and transmission electron, and video microscopy as applied to biological specimens with an emphasis on sample preparation. Emphasis will be placed on application of advanced techniques. Half semester course.
Credits: 2.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (0-4-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2010-2011 academic year
Restrictions: May not be enrolled in one of the following Class(es): Freshman, Sophomore, Junior

BL 5360 - Special Topics in Biochemistry

A discussion of recent developments in the field of biochemistry. Topics taught recently include steroid biochemistry, immunology, and metabolic control theory.
Credits: variable to 10.0; Repeatable to a Max of 10
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Restrictions: Permission of instructor required; Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

BL 5370 - Special Topics in Microbiology

A discussion of recent developments in the field of microbiology. Topics taught recently include bacterial genetics, industrial microbiology, and advanced microbial ecology.
Credits: variable to 10.0; Repeatable to a Max of 10
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Restrictions: Permission of instructor required; Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

BMB 6020 - Advanced Molecular Biology

Course will focus on gene structure, gene duplication, gene expression, gene regulation, DNA recombination, DNA repair and transposition. Comparison between prokaryotes and eukaryotes will be drawn. Genomics and modern biotechnology methods will be discusses. Classic and current papers may accompany the lecture material. Foundations in basic biochemistry and molecular biology are required for this course.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 4999 - Special Topics in Physics

Selected additional topics in physics for advanced students based on interests of faculty and students. Interested students should contact the physics department.
Credits: variable to 9.0; May be repeated
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

Photonics

BE 5250 - Biomedical Optics

Light plays a significant role in modern clinical diagnostics and in the clinical treatment of disease. Examples include non-invasive surgery, optical biopsy, and cancer therapy. This course will focus on the study of how light propagates through biological tissue.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

EET 5261 - Optical System Design and Testing

The fundamental concepts of optical system design and testing are presented at the moderate level. Simulation tools for modeling a broad range of optical components are designed to enhance the learning process. Laboratory experiments are intended to provide hands-on experience.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (0-2-2)
Semesters Offered: On Demand
Restrictions: May not be enrolled in one of the following Class(es): Freshman, Sophomore, Junior

EE 5410 - Engineering Electromagnetics

A mathematically rigorous study of dynamic electromagnetic fields, beginning with Maxwell's equations. Topics include scalar and vector potentials, waves, and radiation.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate; Must be enrolled in one of the following Major(s): Electrical Engineering, Electrical Engineering
Pre-Requisite(s): EE 3140

EE 5490 - Solar Photovoltaic Science and Engineering

Solar photovoltaic materials, the device physics of photovoltaic cells and practical applications of solar electric systems engineering.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: On Demand
Restrictions: Permission of instructor required; Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

EE 5526 - Microwave Engineering

Basics of microwave engineering. Topics include: microwave sources; wave equations and their solutions; wave propagation; reflection, and guiding; transmission line theory and practice; microwave network analysis and impedance matching; microwave resonators, filters, and dividers; left-handed materials and devices.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate
Pre-Requisite(s): EE 3140 or EE 5140

EE 5528 - Antenna Engineering

Topics include: basics of radiation theory, Hertzian dipole and loop antennas, near and far fields, bandwidth, gain and other antenna parameters, Yagi-Uda, bow-tie, cavity-backed and traveling wave antennas, microstrip solutions, miniaturization, substrates and superstrates.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year
Pre-Requisite(s): EE 5526

PH 4292 - Light and Photonic Materials

Material properties controlling light wave propagation in optical crystals and optical waveguides. Photonic crystals and photonic devices based on electrical, magnetic, and strain effects.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Pre-Requisite(s): PH 2200(C)

PH 5320 - Mathematical Physics

Partial differential equations of physics, separation of variables, boundary value problems, Sturm-Liouville theory, Legendre and Bessel functions, inhomogeneous partial differential equations, Green's functions. Fourier series, Fourier and Laplace transforms, complex variables, evaluation of integrals by contour integration, linear algebra, matrix methods with emphasis on numerical applications.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 5410 - Quantum Mechanics I

Study of the postulates of quantum mechanics framed in Dirac notation, the Heisenberg uncertainty relations, simple problems in one dimension, the harmonic oscillator, the principles of quantum dynamics, rotational invariance and angular momentum, spherically symmetric potentials including the hydrogen atom, and spin.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 5510 - Theory of Solids

Free electron theory, Bloch's theorem, electronic band structure theory, Fermi surfaces, electron transport in metals and semiconductors. Lattice vibrations and phonons, other topics as time permits.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2000-2001 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate
Pre-Requisite(s): PH 5320 and PH 5410

Physics at Nanoscale

EE 5460 - Solid State Devices

A study of the physical principles, operational characteristics and models and basic applications of solid state devices such as p-n junctions, metal- semiconductor junctions and transistors.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring
Restrictions: May not be enrolled in one of the following Class(es): Freshman, Sophomore, Junior

EE 5471 - Microfabrication Laboratory

A hands-on laboratory experience in which the students fabricate devices with micro-and nano- scale dimensions. Lecture component covers safety training, background on microfabrication processes and systems, and facility tours to observe additional systems.
Credits: 2.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (1-0-3)
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Restrictions: Permission of instructor required; Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

MEEM 5130 - Nanoscale Science and Technology

The course covers fundamentals of nanoscience (synthesis, properties, characterization) and recent technological advances in renewable energy, biotechnology, and nanodevices. This course is appropriate for students with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, materials science, chemistry, chemical engineering, civil engineering, and physics.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (0-3-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring

MSE 6200 - Advanced Topics in Materials Characterization

Advanced concepts in materials characterization. Specific course content is tailored to meet the interests of the students and faculty.
Credits: variable to 4.0; May be repeated
Semesters Offered: On Demand
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 4390 - Computational Methods in Physics

An overview of numerical and computer methods to analyze and visualize physics problems in mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. Utility and potential pitfalls of these methods, basic concepts of programming, UNIX computing environment, system libraries and computer graphics are included.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (2-0-3)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Pre-Requisite(s): PH 2020 and PH 3410

PH 4510 - Introduction to Solid State Physics

Crystal structures, X-ray diffraction, phonons, free electron theory of metals, rudiments of band theory, an overview of semiconductors, and other topics in solid-state physics.
Credits: 2.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (2-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Fall
Pre-Requisite(s): (PH 2300 or PH 1360) and PH 2400 and (CH 1150 and CH 1151) and (MA 3520 or MA 3521 or MA 3530 or MA 3560)

PH 5510 - Theory of Solids

Free electron theory, Bloch's theorem, electronic band structure theory, Fermi surfaces, electron transport in metals and semiconductors. Lattice vibrations and phonons, other topics as time permits.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2000-2001 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate
Pre-Requisite(s): PH 5320 and PH 5410

PH 5520 - Materials Physics

Materials classification and structures; phase diagrams; lattice imperfections; quasiparticles; boundaries and interfaces; mechanical, electronic, optical, magnetic and superconducting properties of materials.
Credits: 3.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-0)
Semesters Offered: Spring - Offered alternate years beginning with the 2001-2002 academic year
Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Level(s): Graduate

PH 5530 - Selected Topics in Nanoscale Science and Technology

Presentation and discussion of selected topics in nanoscale science and engineering. Topics include growth, properties, applications, and societal implication of nanoscale materials. Evaluation: attendance and assignment.
Credits: 2.0
Lec-Rec-Lab: (2-0-0)
Semesters Offered: On Demand
Restrictions: May not be enrolled in one of the following Class(es): Freshman, Sophomore, Junior

Careers in Applied Physics

Applied physicists are well suited to work in any career that requires strong mathematical, experimental, and/or theoretical skills. The applied physics program provides excellent flexibility enabling majors to work in academia, industry, law, and government.