Programs and Facilities



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Up: The Undergraduate Physics Major Previous: Introduction

Programs and Facilities

The Physics Department of the University of Connecticut occupies a five-story 81,000 square foot building within the Edward V. Gant Science Complex, which also contains the Institute of Materials Science, as well as the Mathematical Science Building housing the Departments of Mathematics and Statistics and the University Computer Center.J

The Physics Building is provided with facilities specifically designed for undergraduate instruction. Among these are a number of teaching laboratories and apparatus for a variety of physical measurements. Included is some very sophisticated computerized apparatus for collecting, recording, and processing data to facilitate its comparison with theoretical predictions.

The Physics Building also has two large lecture halls, equipped with video projectors interfaced to video cassette recorders and multimedia computers. Instructional software, specifically designed for undergraduate instruction, has been obtained from CUPLE ( Comprehensive and Unified Physics Learning Environment), a consortium of Physics Faculty from a number of universities. Our department is a designated test site for CUPLE programs.J

The Physics Department's research programs encompass investigations in the following areas: Atomic, Molecular and Chemical Physics; Condensed Matter (Solid State) Physics; Quantum Optics and Laser Physics; Elementary Particle and Field Theories, including work in Astroparticle Theory, General Relativity and Cosmology; Nuclear Physics; and Polymer Physics. The scientific investigations in these fields are carried out by faculty and graduate students, as well as by selected undergraduates interested in participating in this work. Much of this research is supported by agencies like the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Connecticut Department of Economic Development. Undergraduate Physics Majors are encouraged to engage in independent study programs as junior collaborators in research in one of our research groups. This kind of experience can enable students to determine, early in their career, whether research in physics is an interesting career option for them; it can also help to generate significant opportunities for graduate work or for careers in related sciences or technical fields.J

A wide variety of research facilities and equipment are located in, or are readily available to students in the Physics Department. A 2-MeV positive ion and a 2-MeV electron van de Graaff accelerator, and several smaller accelerators and ion sources, are used for research in atomic collisions and in applications of ion beams to materials science and surface analysis. A large number of lasers and related instruments are housed in the Department, including the new University of Connecticut Laser Facility just established as part of the Institute of Materials Science: this includes a cw laser laboratory containing three Coherent 899-29 continuously scannable single frequency CW ring laser systems, two large-frame argon ion lasers, one krypton ion laser, a near infrared alexandrite laser and several smaller lasers; also included in this facility are a new pulsed laser laboratory containing a 30W average power copper vapor laser, a 20 J/pulse materials-processing YAG laser, and related support equipment. Other laser equipment available includes additional argon ion and krypton ion lasers, YAG-pumped pulsed dye laser systems, an excimer laser, CW ring dye lasers, a new mode-locked femtosecond pulsed laser, and several diode laser systems. Spectroscopy equipment includes a grazing-incidence XUV spectrometer, a Seya-Namioka UV spectrometer, and two SPEX high-resolution double monochromators. For low-temperature and condensed matter research there is a closed-cycle helium refrigerator with helium cryostats, a modern electron spin resonance facility, a superconducting SQUID magnetometer, a diamond-anvil high-pressure cell, a scanning tunneling electron microscope, and a fast transient digitizer.

There are several adjacent University research centers available to students. These include the Institute of Materials Science, containing extensive facilities for materials research studies, including X-ray spectrometers and diffractometers, and equipment for surface physics and investigations of biomaterials; the Advanced Technology Center for Precision Manufacturing; the Biotechnology Center; the Environmental Research Institute; the Photonics Research Center; and the Taylor L. Booth Center for Computer Applications and Research. The University Computer Center has an IBM 9000-580 supercomputer with six processors, three of which are vector processors. The Physics Department has, in addition, its own research computer network which includes two SUN SPARC work stations, several IBM RISC/6000 work stations, a number of MacIntosh and IBM 486-DX66 PC computers, and graphics printers, etc. The computers are loaded with many practical graphics and mathematical software packages; some of the latter are useful for numerical and formal algebraic and analytic calculations needed for theoretical studies. The Physics computer network is linked to the INTERNET. National Supercomputer facilities, such as the Cray Supercomputer at Livermore National Laboratory, can be accessed through INTERNET.



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Up: The Undergraduate Physics Major Previous: Introduction