Department of Physics

Main Departmental Office
Physics Building, 110
P.O. Box 305370
Denton, TX 76203-5370
(940) 565-2626

Web site:

Samuel E. Matteson, Chair

Graduate Faculty: Deering, Duggan, Golden, Grigolini, Harrison, Hu, Kobe, Kowalski, Littler, Mackey, Matteson, McDaniel, Mueller, Ordonez, Perez, Roberts, Sears, Shiner, Sybert, Ward, Weathers, West.

Students in the Department of Physics have the opportunity to obtain training on state-of-the-art equipment in new and modern research laboratories in areas of great interest to the scientific and industrial communities, particularly those involved in microelectronics, semiconductors, applications of accelerators, lasers and modern computational methods. Opportunities are available to develop highly marketable skills in modern basic and applied physics as well as close interactions with regional industries.


The physics department is conducting research in solid state and semiconductor physics; atomic, molecular and nuclear magnetic resonance; and in theoretical physics in quantum, statistical and computational physics and non-linear dynamics, including applications to biomedical phenomena.

The condensed matter, molecular and atomic physics programs include studies of energy levels, lifetimes, scattering mechanisms, transition rates, dissipative responses and interaction of light with matter. Housed in the Physics Building and the Science Research Building, the laboratories associated with these programs contain continuous CO and CO2 and far infrared lasers. Low temperature and high magnetic field facilities and transmission electron microscopes also are located in these laboratories. Current semiconductor projects include magneto-optic interactions, two-photon spectroscopy and the study of artificially structured materials.

In nuclear magnetic resonance, high-resolution multipulse methods are used to study interactions in solids. A prime interest in theoretical physics lies in applying quantum theory to many-particle systems. Mathematical problems involving Green's functions, Feynman diagrams, canonical transformations and gauge theory are being investigated. These and other methods are being applied to solids, quantum fluids and nuclei.

The Accelerator Laboratory contains three accelerators, including a 200 keV high-current Cockcroft Walton machine, a 2.5 MeV single-ended van de Graaf and a $1 million 3 MeV Tandem Electrostatic Pelletron-Type Accelerator. The program's objectives are (1) fundamental studies of ion atom collisions, including ionization, excitation and charge transfer processes, and (2) the use of ion beams for materials characterization and modification of electronic and other materials. The most notable of these characterization techniques is the development of an accelerator-based Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (SIMS) that will be able to detect impurities in materials at the parts-per-trillion level. This technique, called Super SIMS, is being developed in conjunction with the materials characterization group at Texas Instruments Inc. Other materials characterization techniques include nuclear reaction analysis, charged particle activation analysis, Rutherford backscattering spectrometry, ion channeling and particle-induced X-ray emission. Modification of metal and semiconductor materials will be by ion implantation.

Atomic and molecular spectroscopy investigations are being made to determine interaction parameters from line width and line profile data to better understand the collision phenomena and momentum transfer associated with gaseous mixtures. Experimental measurement and theoretical modeling of vibrationally excited molecular systems are being conducted with the goal of understanding molecular potentials.

The program in statistical physics has a variety of specializations, including both classical and quantum non-equilibrium statistical mechanics with an emphasis on stochastic differential equations. There also are investigations into deterministic randomness (chaos) and its relation to traditional stochastic processes. These techniques along with the numerical methods are applied to all areas of physics. In addition to the study of chaos, the techniques for non-linear dynamics are applied to the understanding of neural networks (research done in collaboration with members of the biological sciences department) and other complex physiological systems.

The Laboratory of Polymers and Composites, operated jointly with the Department of Materials Science, works on polymer liquid crystals and their blends, composites and polymer solutions. Mechanical, thermophysical and rheological properties are investigated using computer simulations, statistical mechanics and a variety of experi
mental techniques (DMTA, TMA, DS, TSD, P-V-T relations, computerized tension, compression, bending and impact testing).

Center for Nonlinear Science (CNS) is a research organization whose research focus is phenomena-driven rather than discipline-driven and, therefore, spans traditional disciplines such as physics, mathematics, biology and economics. The emphasis of CNS is on the development of new analytic and computational techniques to assist in the understanding of complex (nonlinear) phenomena that have not yielded their secrets to traditional methods of investigation.

Federal support of research projects in the department includes the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Army Night Vision Laboratory. Other research support has been granted by the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the Gulf Oil Foundation, the Texas Advanced Technology Research Program and the Vought Corporation.

Admission Requirements

The student must apply for and be granted admission through the office of the dean of the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies; admission requirements applicable to all departments may be found in the Admission section of this bulletin. A student who has not had the equivalent of an undergraduate major in physics at this institution may expect the time required for completion of degree requirements to be longer than average.

Departmental forms for applying for financial aid and information concerning evaluation of credit in physics may be obtained from the chair of the Department of Physics. In addition to presenting a minimum score of 1100 (verbal and quantitative) on the aptitude test of the Graduate Record Examination, required of all applicants for admission, applicants for financial aid are requested to present scores on the GRE advanced physics test. International applicants must also provide a minimum of 550 on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. An entrance interview concerning fundamental physics is required of all students. The interview is used as an aid in placement. Further details may be obtained from the departmental office. The entrance interview is administered preceding the first day of registration in the fall and spring semesters and the first summer term.

Degree Programs

The Department of Physics offers graduate programs leading to the following degrees:

Master's Degree Options

Master of Arts (with thesis) or Master of Science (with research problems in lieu of thesis).

Option 1, Master of Arts

The graduate credit requirement for the Master of Arts degree is 30 semester hours chosen in the following manner.

1. PHYS 5500, 5510, 5710 and 5720.

2. PHYS 5950 (6-hour thesis). The thesis must be submitted in the manuscript form prescribed by the American Institute of Physics.

3. 8 semester hours chosen from physics or related fields, with permission of academic adviser.

Option 2, Master of Science

The graduate credit requirement for the Master of Science degree is 36 semester hours chosen in the following manner.

1. PHYS 5500, 5510, 5710, 5720 and 4 additional hours chosen from the basic curriculum of the physics PhD program.

2. PHYS 5920 and 5930 (Problems in Lieu of Thesis). Research problems in lieu of thesis are independent though not necessarily original studies that may be experimental, computational, tutorial, bibliographic, pedagogic or a combination of these. As part of the requirements for each problems course, the student must present a formal written report of the work done in the course, which must be approved by the advisory committee and filed in the graduate dean's office. Reports for PHYS 5920 and 5930 must be submitted in the manuscript form prescribed by the American Institute of Physics (see AIP Style Manual, current edition).

3. 10 hours chosen from physics or related fields. Physics courses must include 5450, 5610 and 6000.

Master of Science

The graduate credit requirement for the Master of Science degree is 39 semester hours chosen in the following manner.

1. PHYS 5500, 5510, 5710, 5720, 6000, 6030 and 6110.

2. 3 hours of 5000- or 6000-level physics courses.

3. 8 additional hours, which may include 2 hours of PHYS 5940 and 6 hours of PHYS 5900.

Seminar in Current Literature or Colloquium

All physics graduate students are expected to register for PHYS 5940 or 5941 during each semester of full-time graduate study.


An entrance interview concerning fundamental physics is required of all students. The results are used for advisory, placement and remedial purposes.

An oral presentation of the master's thesis (PHYS 5950) is required. The thesis is accepted by the student's advisory committee after an oral examination is successfully completed. Problems in lieu of thesis (PHYS 5920 and 5930) must be accepted by the student's advisory committee; oral presentation is optional.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy degree represents the attainment of a high level of scholarship and achievement in independent research and hence cannot be prescribed in terms of a fixed semester-hour requirement. Course work and research amounting to the equivalent of two academic years beyond the master's degree or three years beyond the bachelor's degree may be considered the minimum.


Departmental admission to the doctoral program in physics (as distinguished from admission to candidacy for the PhD degree) requires a satisfactory score on the first part of the qualifying examination taken after completion of the basic curriculum (see below), which normally occurs after the second year. Enrollment in PHYS 6950 will not be allowed until the student has completed this requirement.

Language or Tool Subject Requirements

Consult the graduate adviser, Department of Physics, for requirements.


In addition to the entrance interview required of all graduate students in physics, as described above under the master's examinations, the following examinations apply to the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Qualifying Examination

1. The first part of the qualifying examination is taken after completion of the basic curriculum (see below) and consists of an examination over its contents. The departmental examination committee will schedule and administer the exam.

2. The second part of the qualifying examination consists of the student's oral presentation to the graduate advisory committee. The presentation will detail a proposed dissertation topic and will demonstrate familiarity with both appropriate equipment and the theoretical basis of the phenomena to be studied. Upon acceptance of the proposal by the advisory committee, the applicant applies to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies for admission to candidacy and may begin research.

Final Examination

This oral examination is primarily a defense of the dissertation, which must be submitted in final form to the final examination committee at least 30 days prior to the scheduled oral examination. Additional committee members will be named by the dean of the School of Graduate Studies to participate in this examination.

Course Work

For the student who has not had previous graduate study, the approximate requirements follow.

The concentration requirement can be satisfied by completing courses in one of the following areas.

Courses of Instruction

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