Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

Undergraduate Major in Applied Physics

Undergraduate Option Representative

Oskar J. Painter
opaintercaltech.edu

Options Manager

Jennifer N. Blankenship
jennifercaltech.edu

Please visit the Undergraduate Admissions website for online applications, downloadable forms, important dates, and complete information about the undergraduate admissions process.

The applied physics option is designed to extend knowledge of the principles of pure physics to the development of new technologies. Research in applied physics focuses primarily on problems of technological importance. The interdisciplinary nature of this option allows considerable flexibility in course work, training and individual research interests to enhance maximum breadth and depth.

Current areas of specialization within applied physics span a wide range of topics such as Photonics including multiwavelength fiber telecommunications, integrated microphotonic and nanophotonic devices, holographic data processing and storage, and optical approaches to quantum computation; Solid-state materials and device work including nanostructured materials and devices, wide bandgap semiconductors and heterostructures for optoelectronics, photovoltaics, novel memory devices, and spin-dependent transport; Biophysics including single-molecule-scale studies of the mechanics of DNA, proteins, and their assemblies; Plasma-physics including spheromak plasmas for fusion application, plasma processes occurring in the sun, and the dynamics of pure electron plasmas; Hydrodynamics, nonlinear dynamics and thermal behavior in small scale systems including symmetry breaking in soft condensed matter, micro/nanofluidic, optofluidic, and biofluidic devices, optical trapping in fluids, pattern formation and phase separation in nanoscale films and convection-diffusive phenomena in natural and mimetic systems.

Option Requirements

Note: Items in brackets represent optional replacements.

  1. E 10 and E 11. E 11 can be satisfied by three units of additional work associated with the senior thesis (APh 78 or APh 79), or by taking Ph70, En 84 or Bi/Be 24.
  2. Any three of the following: APh/EE 9 b, APh 23, APh 24, Ph 3, Ph 5, Ph 6, or Ph 7.
  3. Ph 12 abc, APh 105 ab [Ae/ME 118 or ChE/Ch 165, ChE/Ch 164], Ph 106 abc, and Ph 125 ab [Ch 125 ab].
  4. Ma 2, Ma 3, and ACM 95 ab.
  5. Either APh 78 abc or APh 79 abc, or one term of APh 77 and one term of any of the following: Ph 77, EE 91, Ch 6, Ae/APh 104 bc, or MS 90. Any substitutions or additions require prior approval of the option representative.
  6. One additional advanced sequence of APh courses numbered over 100, such as: APh 101 abc, APh/MS 105 abc, Aph 114 abc, APh/Ph 115 and APh/Ph/Ae 116, APh/EE 130, 131, and 132, APh 156 abc, APh 190 abc, or BE/APh 161 and 162. Note that APh 100 and APh 200 do not satisfy this requirement. Any substitutions or additions require prior approval of the option representative.
  7. Passing grades must be earned in a total of 486 units, including the courses listed above. No course in fulfillment of option requirements may be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  8. Any student whose grade-point average is less than 1.9 at the end of the academic year in the subjects listed above may be refused permission to continue work in this option.

Typical Course Schedule

Second Year First term Second term Third term

Second Year

ACM 95 ab Intro. Methods of Applied Math. - 12 12
Ma 2 Differential Equations 9 - -
Ma 3 Intro. to Probability and Statistics - 9 -
Ph 12 abc Waves, Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Physics 9 9 9
HSS electives 9 9 9
Laboratory electives1 6 6 6
Other electives2 9 - 9
42 45 45
Third Year First term Second term Third term
APh 105 ab States of Matter 9 9 -
APh 110 ab Topics in Applied Physics 2 2 -
Ph 106 abc Topics in Classical Physics 9 9 9
Ph 125 ab Quantum Mechanics 9 9 -
HSS electives 9 9 9
Other electives2 9 9 27
47 47 45
Fourth Year First term Second term Third term
APh 78 abc
or
APh 79 abc
Senior Thesis, Experimental3
or
Senior Thesis, Theoretical3
9 9 9
or APh 77 bc Laboratory in Applied Physics3 - 9 9
Advanced Elective2 9 9 9
HSS electives 9 9 9
Other electives including APh 100 18 18 18
45 45 45

1 See item 2, option requirements.
2 See item 6, option requirements.
3 See item 5, option requirements.

Suggested Electives

Students are encouraged to obtain a well-rounded course of study pursuant to the B.S. degree in applied physics. The option representative and/or undergraduate adviser will gladly assist students in choosing appropriate elective courses. Students ultimately interested in pursuing an advanced degree in applied physics or related fields are encouraged to complete a senior thesis project through APh 78 or APh 79.