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    University of North Texas
    Sep 24, 2023  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Physics

Main Departmental Office
Physics Building, Room 110

Mailing address:
1155 Union Circle #311427
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Web site:

Chris Littler, Chair



Students in the Department of Physics have the opportunity to obtain training with state-of-the-art equipment in new and modern research laboratories in areas of 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, semiconductor and polymer physics; atomic, molecular and applied nuclear physics; accelerator based materials physics and theoretical physics in quantum, statistical and computational physics and non-linear dynamics, including applications to biomedical phenomena.

Housed in the Physics Building, the General Academic Building, the Science Research Building and Discovery Park, the laboratories associated with these programs include ultrahigh vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy, atomic force microscopy, near field optical microscopy, micro Raman, photoluminescence spectroscopy, static and dynamic laser light scattering, rheological characterization, UV-visible spectroscopy, and ultrafast optical spectroscopy facilities. These state-of-the-art facilities are used to investigate carbon nanotubes; carbon and diamond films; polymer gels and related biomaterials; self-assembly and phase behaviors of hydrogel nanoparticles; the crystallization, glass transition and gelation of colloidal dispersions; smart gels for sensors and device applications; nitride optoelectronics; quantum dots; plasmonic nanomaterials; intersubband QW optical devices; III-V semiconductor heterostructures; layered organic-inorganic perovskites; and biophotonics.

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. Plasma confinement schemes are also being investigated using computational techniques.

The Ion Beam Modification and Analysis Accelerator Laboratory contains four accelerators, including a 200 kV high-current Cockcroft Walton machine, two 2.5 MV single-ended Van de Graaff and a 3 MV 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 can detect impurities in materials at the sub parts-per-billion level. This technique, called Trace Element Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (TEAMS), was 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, elastic recoil detection, and particle-induced X-ray emission. These techniques can also be applied with a heavy-ion microprobe attached to the tandem accelerator. Modification of metal and semiconductor materials by ion implantation is also of interest.

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. Precision spectroscopic measurements of atomic transition energies are being conducted to test the accuracy of QED theory.

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 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 Department of Energy, 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 Texas Advanced Technology Research Program, Texas Instruments Inc. and other industries.

Degree programs

The Department of Physics offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy, both with a major in physics

Admission requirements

Application to the master’s or doctoral programs in physics is made in two separate parts:

  1. The prospective student must complete all of the general application requirements for the UNT Toulouse Graduate School. These requirements are described in this catalog and on the Toulouse Graduate School web site. To satisfy the requirements for a standardized admission test, the prospective student must take the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE); of principal interest are the results from the quantitative and analytical portions of the examination.
  2. The prospective student must also complete the Department of Physics Graduate Application and submit it along with a current curriculum vitae and three letters of reference to the attention of the graduate advisor, UNT Department of Physics. The application and reference forms are available from the UNT Department of Physics web site. The letters of recommendation must be from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or professional abilities. One letter may be from a current or past employer (if such experience exists), and at least one letter must be from the last academic institution attended.

In addition to the above, the program may consider the applicant’s related work experience, research and publication record, presentations at professional meetings, leadership roles, teaching excellence, awards, potential to enhance the intellectual diversity of the department and program, potential to enhance the diversity of the university, and other factors that might provide evidence of potential success in completion of a graduate degree in the Department of Physics.


    Master’s DegreeDoctorate