Robert A. Pritzker Research Center
3101 S. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60616

Grant Bunker

Faculty with Research Interests
For more information regarding faculty visit the Department of Physics website.

The Department of Physics offers B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in physics. Within the department, there are many opportunities for interdisciplinary education and research experiences; students in any of the disciplines have easy access to the expertise that the full faculty brings. In addition, the department offers a professional master’s degree and related certificate program for part-time students, both on campus and through distance learning.

Research Centers

Center for Accelerator and Particle Physics
Center for the Molecular Study of Soft and Condensed Matter
Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation

Research Facilities

The department has state-of-the-art computer and laboratory equipment and conducts research in the areas of elementary particle physics, accelerator and plasma physics, condensed-matter physics, biological physics, x- ray optics, x-ray imaging, and quantum theory. The department constructs and operates facilities for x-ray scattering, spectroscopy, and imaging at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Additional research facilities include on-campus x-ray diffraction facilities, thin-film growth facilities, a high-field nuclear magnetic resonance facility, Fourier transform infrared spectrometers, and atomic force microscopes. Laboratories for experimental research in biophysics, low-temperature, solid-state physics, and particle physics are active. Collaborative programs are carried on with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Advanced Photon Source. The department hosts the Center for Accelerator and Particle Physics (CAPP), the Center for the Molecular Study of Soft and Condensed Matter, and the Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation (CSRRI).

Departmental Graduate Examinations

All full-time students in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs are required to take and pass the written M.S. comprehensive/Ph.D. qualifying examination by the end of their fourth semester of study. Part-time students must pass this examination by a comparable stage of their programs. The examination is offered twice each academic year. A student may sit officially for the examination a maximum of two times. Students passing this examination at the Ph.D. level are judged to be qualified to continue in the Ph.D. program.  Students passing at the master of science level or above may obtain their master’s degree after completing the requirements described in the following sections. All students in the Ph.D. program who have passed the written qualifying examination must take and pass a comprehensive examination at least one year prior to the final oral defense. Part-time students must pass this examination by a comparable stage of their programs. The comprehensive examination consists of a written proposal, an oral presentation, and a defense of the proposal before a faculty committee. A student may take this examination a maximum of two times. Students passing this examination may continue with their research and will receive a Ph.D. upon satisfactory completion of all other required courses and general requirements of the Graduate College, a written dissertation, and final oral thesis defense.

All students in the professional master’s degree program are required to take and pass a comprehensive exam. Students may sit for the exam a limited number of times.

Admission Requirements

Cumulative undergraduate GPA minimum: 3.0/4.0

TOEFL minimum: 550/213/801

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all applicants. The GRE minimum scores are:


295 (quantitative + verbal); 2.5 (analytical writing)


295 (quantitative + verbal); 2.5 (analytical writing)


310 (quantitative + verbal); 3.0 (analytical writing)

Applicants to the doctoral program in physics are strongly encouraged, but not required, to take the subject-area GRE exam in physics.

Meeting the minimum GPA and test score requirements does not guarantee admission. Test scores and GPA are just two of several important factors considered.

Applicants to the department’s program are expected to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a major in that same discipline, or a closely allied major with additional coursework that prepares the student for graduate study in the chosen program. Students who have not completed all required courses may be accepted for general admission and can begin coursework, but must remove any deficiencies before the MAS or M.S. comprehensive/Ph.D. qualifying examination.


Paper-based/computer-based/internet-based test score.

The department offers programs leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics, along with a M.S. degree in applied physics.  The M.S. degree is not a prerequisite for the Ph.D. The department also offers a professional master’s program in health physics designed for both the part-time and full-time student and available through distance learning. Research is organized into small groups of faculty members, post-doctoral associates, graduate students, and undergraduate students working on closely related projects. The principal active areas include experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, experimental and theoretical elementary particle physics, synchrotron radiation physics, accelerator physics, structural and computational biophysics, magnetism, and electrodynamics. Classes are generally small and informal, and thesis research is carried out in close collaboration with the faculty adviser.

In recognition of the value of teaching experience in strengthening an individual’s understanding of his or her field of study and as an aid in making career decisions, the department requires full-time students to participate in instructional activities. Each new graduate student is assigned a graduate student adviser and must obtain the approval of the adviser each semester before registering for any graduate classes.

Degrees Offered

Co-Terminal Options

Bachelor of Science in Physics/Master of Health Physics

Undergraduate students may register for the co-terminal Bachelor of Science in Physics/Master of Health Physics after the fourth semester of study. Students must fulfill the requirements of both the Bachelor of Science in Physics and the Master of Health Physics. A full course of study is approximately ten semesters of study, and graduate coursework typically begins in the fourth year. For further details, refer to Synopsis of Co-Terminal Studies section in this bulletin.

Certificate Program

Course Descriptions

PHYS 501
Methods of Theoretical Physics I

Vector analysis including curvilinear coordinates. Tensor algebra. Ordinary differential equations and special functions. Complex variables algebra, Cauchy-Riemann conditions, harmonic functions. Cauchy theorem, Cauchy formula. Laurent series. Residues calculus, calculation of integrals using residues. Partial differential equations: separation of variables, Fourier series methods. Laplace, wave, diffusion equations in Cartesian, cylindrical and spherical systems of coordinates. Special functions and orthogonal polynomials: Bessel functions, Legendre polynomials, associated Legendre polynomials, Hermite, Laguerre, etc. polynomials.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 502
Methods of Theoretical Physics II

Green functions. Their connection with a complex variables calculus. Advanced, retarded, causal GF. Group theory. Discrete groups, elementary examples and properties. Lie groups, their fundamental properties, applications in quantum mechanics. O(3), SU(2), SU(3), Lorentz groups and their applications in quantum theory. Basic ideas of differential geometry and topology. Path integrals. Special topics specified on the year-by-year basis.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 505
Electromagnetic Theory

Maxwell equations including a derivation of their macroscopic version. Electrostatics, magnetostatics. Electromagnetic waves, dipole radiation, beyond the dipole radiation (quadruple and magneto-dipole radiation); scattering of electromagnetic waves. Gradient (gauge) invariance, special relativity, Lorentz invariant formulation of electrodynamics, Maxwell equations in relativistic invariant form; Lienard-Wiechert fields, relativistic charge electromagnetic field, basic ideas of synchrotron radiation.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 508
Analytical Dynamics

Newton's laws. Lagrange's equations. Central forces. Invariance properties and conservation laws. Collections of particles. Rigid body motions. Small vibrations. Hamilton's equations. Canonical transformations. Hamilton-Jacobi theory. Approximation methods. Special theory of relativity. Classical theory of fields. Undergraduates may take the course with permission of their advisor and their instructor.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 509
Quantum Theory I

Survey of solutions to the Schrodinger Equation in one, two, and three dimensions. Hydrogen, helium, and other atoms. Spin 1/2 particles. Entangled states. EPR Paradox. Bell's Theorem. Formalism of quantum mechanics. Magnetic fields in quantum mechanics. Aharonov-Bohm Effect. Berry's Phase. Time Independent Perturbation Theory. Spin-orbit coupling. Variational method. WKB Method. Many electron wavefunction. Pauli Principle. More detailed look at excited states of helium atom. Time Dependent Perturbation Theory. Fermi's Golden Rule. Lifetime of excited atomic states.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 510
Quantum Theory II

Algebra of angular momenta. Rotation Group. Abstract group theory, Lie algebra, generators, structure constants. O(3), SU(2), SU(3), Lorentz group examples. Scattering theory. S-matrix. Lippmann-Schwinger Equation. Partial wave analysis. Second quantization. Its applications. Bogolyubov transformations. Relativistic Quantum Mechanics. Klein-Gordon Equation. Dirac Equation.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 405 and PHYS 406) OR (PHYS 509 with min. grade of C)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 515
Statistical Mechanics

Ensembles and distribution functions. Classical gases and magnetic systems. Ideal Quantum Gases. Interacting systems. Real Space Renormalization group and critical phenomena. Quantum Statistical Mechanics: Superfluidity and superconductivity. Fluctuations and dissipation.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 518
General Relativity

Lorentz transformations, Minkowski space, 4D vectors and tensors, kinematics and dynamics of special relativity. Riemann geometry, Christoffel symbols, covariant derivatives, geodesics, curvature tensor, Einstein equations. Classical experiments of general relativity, Schwarzschild solution, physics of black holes. Cosmology, Big Bang theory, gravitational waves. Instructor permission required.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 520

In this multidisciplinary course, we will examine the basic science behind nanotechnology and how it has infused itself into areas of nanofabrication, biomaterials, and molecular medicine. This course will cover materials considered basic building blocks of nanodevices such as organic molecules, carbon nanotubes, and quantum dots. Top-down and bottom-up assembly processes such as thin film patterrning through advanced lithography methods, self-assembly of molecular structures, and biological systems will be discussed. Students will also learn how bionanotechnology applies to modern medicine, including diagnostics and imaging and nanoscale, as well as targeted, nanotherapy and finally nanosurgery.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 537
Solid State Physics I

Crystal structure and crystal binding. Free electron model of metals and semiconductors. Energy band theory. Elastic Properties. Lattice Waves, Dielectric properties.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 509 and PHYS 510)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 538
Solid State Physics II

Higher order susceptibility, spin-orbit coupling, optical absorption, superconductivity. Properties of metals, semiconductors, and insulators. Device physics. Magnetic properties of materials.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 509 and PHYS 510)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 539
Physical Methods of Characterization

A survey of physical methods of characterization including x-ray diffraction and fluorescence surface techniques including SEM, TEM, AES and ESCA, thermal methods and synchrotron radiation methods. Same as CHEM 509.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 545
Particle Physics I

The course is an introduction to and overview of the field of elementary particle physics. No previous exposure is assumed. The first third of the course is devoted to the symmetries of the strong interaction. The second third is a modern introduction to the gauge theories of the electromagnetic, strong, and weak interactions, and their leading evaluation via Feynman diagrams. The final third introduces topics of current and speculative research.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 509 and PHYS 510)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 546
Particle Physics II

The course is a continuation of PHYS 545, but it is self-contained. The goal is to provide a functional understanding of particle physics phenomenology of QED, QCD, and electroweak physics. Topics include QED: Spin-dependent cross sections, crossing symmetries, C/P/CP; QCD: Gluons, parton model, jets; Electroweak interactions: W, Z, and Higgs. Weak decays and production of weak bosons; Loop calculations: Running couplings, renormalization.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 509 and PHYS 510)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 553
Quantum Field Theory

Quantum field theory is a language to understand large numbers of degrees of freedom in most areas of physics such as high energy, statistical, and condensed matter physics. Topics covered include: canonical quantization of fields; path integral quantizations of scalar, Dirac, and gauge theories; symmetries and conservation laws; perturbation theory and generating functionals; regularization and renormalization.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 510)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 561
Radiation Biophysics

Energy loss by ionizing radiation. Target theory. Direct and indirect action. Radiation effects in biomolecules. Radiation inactivation of enzymes, nucleic acids, and viruses. Biological effects of ultraviolet radiation. Photosensitization. Radiation protection and sensitization. Radiation effects in vivo, radiation therapy, and phototherapy.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 410)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 563
Project Management: Business Principles

The course will cover a wide range of business principles highlighting project management and the components of business that employees may encounter. The goal of the course is to help the student understand basic business principles and project management skills, help the student understand the application of organizational behavior in today's workplace and equip the student to function more effectively both independently and as a team in today's organizations.

Lecture: 2 Lab: 0 Credits: 2
PHYS 566
Environmental Health Physics

Impact of ionizing radiation and radionuclides on the environment. Identifying environmental effects of specific natural and artificial nuclides. Models for deposition and transport of nuclides, including air and water disbursement. Environmental dosimetry and remediation. Facility decommissioning and decontamination.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 572)]
Lecture: 2 Lab: 0 Credits: 2
PHYS 570
Introduction to Synchrotron Radiation

Production and characterization of synchrotron radiation, dynamical and kinematical diffraction, absorption and scattering processes, x-ray optics for synchrotron radiation and x-ray detectors. Overview of experimental techniques including XAFS, XPS, SAXS, WAXS, diffraction, inelastic x-ray scattering, fluorescence spectroscopy, microprobe, tomography and optical spectroscopy.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 571
Radiation Physics

Fundamentals of Radiation Physics will be presented with an emphasis on problem-solving. Topics covered are review of atomic and nuclear physics; radioactivity and radioactive decay law; and interaction of radiation with matter, including interactions of heavy and light charged particles with matter, interactions of photons with matter, and interactions of neutrons with matter.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 572
Introduction to Health Physics

Health Physics profession; Units in radiation protection; Radiation sources; Interaction od ionizing radiation with matter; Detectors for radiation protection; Biological effects of ionizing radiation; Introduction to microdosimetry; Medical health physics; Fuel cycle health physics; Power reactor health physics; University health physics; Accelerator health physics; Environmental health physics; Radiation accidents.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 571)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 573
Standards, Statutes and Regulations

This course studies the requirements of agencies that regulate radiation hazards, their basis in law and the underlying US and international standards. An array of overlapping requirements will be examined. The effect regulatory agencies have upon the future of organizations and the consequences of noncompliance are explored.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 574
Introduction to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

This course introduces the concept and components of nuclear fuel cycle that originated from the mining of uranium through the production and utilization of nuclear fuel to the nuclear/radioactive waste generation and disposal. The mechanisms of normal operations through the fuel cycle process will be discussed as well as the accidental situations with expanded coverage on nuclear reactor issues. Emphasis will be placed on the radiological health and safety aspects of the operations. The study will also include key regulatory compliance issues.

Lecture: 2 Lab: 0 Credits: 2
PHYS 575
Case Studies in Health Physics

This is a non-instructional course designed to promote the understanding of radiation safety through lessons learned from the past incidents. The focus will be on the means for improving the future operations of the acilities/devices. The course is recommended to be among the last courses taken by students who have gained at least one year of academic exposure in health physics and with some level of capability in to address the underlying technical aspects.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 571, PHYS 572, and PHYS 573)]
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 576
Radiation Dosimetry

This course is to study the science and technique of determining radiation dose and is fundamental to evaluating radiation hazards and risks to humans. This course covers both external dosimetry for radiation sources that are outside the human body and internal dosimetry for intake of radioactive materials into the human body. Topics will include: dosimetry recommendations of ICRP for occupational exposure; US NRC and DOE requirements for particular work environments; and MIRD methodology for medical use of radionuclides.

Prerequisite(s): [(PHYS 571 and PHYS 572*)]An asterisk (*) designates a course which may be taken concurrently.
Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 577
Operational Health Physics

Covers the basic principles for establishing and maintaining an effective institutional radiation safety program including the following: facility design criteria; organizational management issues; training; internal and external radiation control; radioactive waste disposal; environmental monitoring; radiation safety instrumentation; ALARA program; and emergency response planning. The course will also cover facility licensing/registration with state and federal agencies and legal issues such as institutional and individual liability, fines, violations, and worker rights and responsibilities.

Lecture: 2 Lab: 0 Credits: 2
PHYS 578
Medical Health Physics

Medical Health Physics (MHP) profession; sources of radiation in the medical environment; radioisotopes in nuclear medicine; diagnostic use of X-rays (radiography, mammography, CT, fluoroscopy); therapeutic use of X-ray and gamma radiation (Co-60 and LINAC based radiation therapy); radiotherapy using sealed radioisotopes (brachytherapy); radiation protection in diagnostic and interventional radiology; radiation protection in nuclear medicine; radiation protection in external beam radiotherapy; radiation protection in brachytherapy; radiation accidents in medicine.

Lecture: 2 Lab: 0 Credits: 2
PHYS 580
Introduction to Radiochemistry

This course is designed to introduce the fundamental principle of radiation science for students majoring in radiochemistry.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 581
Radiochemistry Laboratory

This laboratory-related course will offer opportunities for students to have hands-on experience in samples preparation, source preparation, and counting measurements.

Lecture: 1 Lab: 2 Credits: 3
PHYS 582
Applications of Radiochemistry

This course will provide discussion and overview of practical applications of radiochemistry. Various special topics in the following five general series of practical radiochemistry will be offered. Each series covers different topics related to that particular discipline.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
PHYS 585
Physics Colloquium

Lectures by invited scientists in areas of physics generally not covered in the department. May be taken twice by M. S. students to fulfill course credit requirements.

Lecture: 0 Lab: 0 Credits: 1
PHYS 591
Research and Thesis M.S.

(Credit: variable)Prerequisite: Instructor permission required.

Credit: Variable
PHYS 597
Reading and Special Problems

Independent study to meet the special needs of graduate students in department-approved graduate degree programs. Requires the written consent of the instructor. May be taken more than once. Receives a letter grade. (Credit: variable) Prerequisite: Instructor permission required.

Credit: Variable
PHYS 600
Continuation of Residence

Lecture: 0 Lab: 0 Credits: 1
PHYS 685
Physics Colloquium

Lectures by invited scientists in areas of physics generally not covered in the department. Must be taken twice by M. S. students and four times by Ph. D. students. May be substituted by PHYS 585 for M. S. students.

Lecture: 0 Lab: 0 Credits: 0
PHYS 691
Research and Thesis Ph.D.

(Credit: Variable)

Credit: Variable
PHYS 770
Instrumentation for Health Physics

Detecting and measuring radioactive material and radiation levels depends upon many types of detectors and instrumentation. Theory of detectors ranging from chambers operating in pulse and current producing modes to solid state detectors is applied to measuring and monitoring systems. Electronics ranging from simple rate meters and scalers to high speed multi-channel analyzers is used. Computer linked instrumentation and computer based applications are applied to practical problems.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 4 Credits: 3
SCI 511
Project Management

Successful project management links the basic metrics of schedule adherence, budget adherence, and project quality. But, it also includes the 'people components' of customer satisfaction and effective management of people whether it is leading a project team or successfully building relationships with co-workers. Through course lectures, assigned readings, and case studies, the basic components of leading, defining, planning, organizing, controlling, and closing a project will be discussed. Such topics include project definition, team building, budgeting, scheduling, risk management and control, evaluation, and project closeout.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3
SCI 522
Public Engagement for Scientists

This course presents strategies for scientists to use when engaging a variety of audiences with scientific information. Students will learn to communicate their knowledge through correspondence, formal reports, and presentations. Students will practice document preparation using report appropriate formatting, style, and graphics. Written assignments, discussion questions, and communication exercises will provide students with a better understanding of the relationship between scientists and their audiences whether in the workplace, laboratory, etc.

Lecture: 3 Lab: 0 Credits: 3