2014-2015 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics, MS

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A. Alan Middleton
201 Physics Building,


Cristian Armendariz-Picon, Marina Artuso, Stefan Ballmer, Steven Blusk, Mark Bowick, Duncan Brown, Simon Catterall, JiJi Fan, Martin B. Forstner, Kenneth Foster, Jay Hubisz, Matthew LaHaye, John Laiho, Edward D. Lipson, M. Lisa Manning, M. Cristina Marchetti, Alan Middleton, Liviu Movileanu, Britton Plourde, Carl Rosenzweig, Peter Saulson, Eric A. Schiff, Jennifer Schwarz, Tomasz Skwarnicki, Mitchell Soderberg, Paul Souder, Sheldon Stone, Gianfranco Vidali, Scott Watson

The Department of Physics has 31 faculty members, 21 postdoctoral research associates, and about 71 graduate students. The department is housed in the modern, six-floor physics building overlooking the University’s main quadrangle. Facilities include state-of-the-art laboratory space, high-performance computing resources, and a machine shop, in addition to numerous specialized research facilities maintained by the research groups described below.

The department runs a weekly colloquium series that brings scientists from the United States and abroad to the University to present research and exchange ideas. There are also several research seminar series run by the different research groups. Colloquia and seminar schedules (along with other information about our program, courses, and events) can be found on the Internet at physics.syr.edu.

Degree Programs

All entering students must take a comprehensive examination. Those who perform unsatisfactorily may be required to take and pass remedial courses. However, any associated offer of financial support is not contingent upon passing this examination.

M.S. in Physics

The degree can be achieved in any of three ways: (a) a thesis (involving 6 credits of PHY 997 ) in addition to 24 credits of regular course- work; (b) a minor problem (involving PHY 890 ) and passing the qualifying examination with 30 credits of regular coursework; or (c) passing the qualifying examination with 36 credits of regular coursework. The courses taken must include

Additional Information

No more than three credits of PHY 690  or PHY 890  can count toward the M.S. degree. Students must maintain a B average.

Research Areas

The department has several strong research groups from which former students and post-doctoral associates have gone on to distinguished careers at universities and in industry. Graduate work in physics presently encompasses the fields described below.


Condensed Matter

Research in this area includes ongoing studies of soft matter systems, dynamical systems, granular materials, and disordered matter. Faculty study the mechanics of mesoscopic constructed materials and biological tissues. The dynamics of active matter, including reconstituted biological systems and living cells and flocks, is an active area of study. The glassy dynamical behavior and statistical physics of materials with disorder is studied, using connections with advanced algorithms to model complex systems. Flow and plastic deformation in jammed and glassy solids (as in metallic glasses, foams and granular materials) are the object of research work. Bowick, Manning, Marchetti, Middleton, Schwarz. Three postdoctoral fellows.

Elementary Particles and Fields Quantum field theory and quantum gravity. Supersymmetry and its application to quantum gravity and models of Beyond Standard Model Physics. Strongly coupled dynamics via effective field theory and lattice field theory. LHC phenomenology and lattice QCD. Inflation, the generation of density perturbations, the origin of dark matter and dark energy, baryogenesis and the cosmic microwave background radiation. Particle cosmology. Armendariz-Picon, Catterall, Fan, Hubisz, Laiho, Watson. Two postdoctoral fellows.

Computational Physics

Numerical studies of random surfaces, liquid membranes; study of quantum gravity as a theory of dynamically triangulated meshes; analysis of phase transitions and phase structure in disordered systems; gravitational waveforms from coalescences of astrophysical binary systems; gravitational wave data analysis; numerical simulations on parallel computers; connections between algorithms and physical principles; lattice quantum chromodynamics. Application of distributed processing to large scale quantum theory problems. Bowick, Brown, Catterall, Couvares, Fisher, Laiho, Marchetti, Middleton. One postdoctoral fellow.


Astrophysics of the Interstellar Medium and Planetary Atmospheres

Laboratory studies of physical and chemical processes occurring in the interstellar medium and in planetary atmospheres, including formation of molecular hydrogen and hydrogenation and oxidation reactions on interstellar and/or planetary dust grain analogues. Vidali.

Biological and Medical Physics

Experimental studies of photosensory transduction in single-celled model microorganisms, using nonlinear systems physiology approaches; bioinformatics; phylogenetics and molecular clocks; technology development for telemedicine and human-computer interfacing; image processing in nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging. Forstner, Foster, Krol, Lipson, Movileanu, Saranak.

High Energy Experimental Particle Physics

Experimental studies of the fundamental Electroweak and Strong interactions as manifested by the decays of beauty and charm quarks and production of other “exotic” phenomena. These studies are mostly preformed as part of the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider located at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. We are primarily interested in how new physics phenomena manifests itself in CP violating and rare B meson decays. We also perform R&D leading to advanced silicon micro-pattern detectors, such as pixel and microstrip strip sensors, and their related readout electronics. The group is also active in neutrino flavor oscillation research, using neutrino beams created at Fermilab in Chicago, Illinois. Our neutrino program involves R&D on the development of liquid argon neutrino detectors, as proposed for use in the MicroBooNE and LBNE experiments. Members of the group have discovered several new particles, including the B, Ds, Y(1D) and made the first measurements of several very important decay modes of these objects. Artuso, Blusk, Mountain, Skwarnicki, Soderberg, Stone and Wang. Four postdoctoral fellows.

Intermediate Energy Particle Physics

Use of spin degrees of freedom to study quantum chromodynamics and the Standard Model at low energies. Experiments are underway at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLAB). Holmes, Souder. 1 postdocteral fellow

Gravitational-wave Astronomy and Astrophysics

Detection of gravitational waves with the Laser Interferometric Gravitation Wave Observatory (LIGO). Development of advanced optics and precision metrology for interferometric detectors. Characterization of the LIGO detectors. Member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Ballmer, Brown, Couvares, Fisher, Saulson. Three postdoctoral fellows.

Semiconductors, Thin Films, and Solar Cells

Electronic and optical properties of unconventional semiconductors (amorphous silicon, porous titania, and silicon). Solar cell device physics. Thin-film growth (plasma, hot-wire). Hybrid organic-inorganic semiconductor devices. Surface physics (structure, kinetics, dynamics, and reactions). Schiff.

Quantum mechanics and nanoscale devices

Superconducting devices and vortex dynamics Investigations of quantum coherence in nanoscale superconducting devices and vortex systems. Quantum effects in macroscopic systems. Nanofabrication of Josephson junctions and structured vortex pinning potentials. Low temperature measurements, including dilution refrigeration. Development of qubits for quantum computing. Applications of nanoelectromechanical systems. LaHaye, Plourde. Two postdoctoral fellows.

Dark Matter

Development of improved ultra-low-radioactivity detectors and environments including detectors of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, analysis of data from dark matter searches. Member of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search and DEAP/CLEAN collaborations. Schnee. One postdoctoral fellow.

Graduate Awards

Figures for graduate appointments represent 2014-2015 stipends.

Graduate Scholarships support graduate study for students with superior qualifications; provide, in most cases, full tuition for academic year.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships offered to most Graduate Scholarship recipients; nine months; stipend of $23,000 (2014-2015) and tuition scholarship up to 24 credits (8 courses). Summer assistantships may be available. The assistant spends up to 20 hours per week engaged in teaching laboratory or recitation classes and in grading and preparation.

Graduate Research Assistantships no more than an average of 20 hours of work per week; a nine-month stipend of at least $23,000 (2014-2015) and tuition scholarship up to 24 credits (8 courses). Summer assistantships may be available. The research assistant is normally paid for research work performed in conjunction with a faculty member and leading to the master’s or doctor’s dissertations.

Syracuse University Fellowships Tax-free stipends of $23,830 (2014-2015) for nine months of full-time study; tuition scholarship for a total of 30 credits during the academic year.

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