- Offered as:
- Specialization track in Physics and Astronomy
Materials physics, an option in the physics major, prepares students for high-tech employment in industries that have needs for better materials, such as companies improving optical fibers, transportation, electronics, communications, alternative energy sources, medicine, and a wide range of consumer goods. These materials include lubricants, coolants, semiconductors, metals, polymers, ceramics, glasses, and liquid crystals. An interdisciplinary field, materials science touches on several engineering areas. In the materials physics option, students prepare for high-tech employment in leading-edge industries.
- Strengths of the program
- Study in the computer-equipped lounge available solely for physics majors.
- Take Honors Physics, an accelerated version of introductory physics.
- Interact with other departments affiliated with WSU's Materials Research Center.
- Pursue a variety of attractive research opportunities through the college internship program.
- Prepare for a rewarding, well-paid career working with novel materials.
- Study with internationally recognized researchers in materials physics, chemistry, and engineering.
- Earn a highly marketable degree. Physics majors have a strong record of employment.
- You can join a math, science, and engineering community residence hall at WSU Pullman—share classes with your neighbors, study together, get free tutoring, and use the hall’s computer lab.
- Requirements and core courses
Bachelor of science in physics degree
In addition to the core and option classes listed below, students must complete general education, college, and department requirements as well as approved science and degree electives as outlined in the General Catalog in order to graduate. Students should consult the catalog and their advisor for course planning.
PHYSICS CORE COURSES (First and Second Year)
Math 171, 172 & 273-Calculus I & II & III
Phys 201 & 202-Physics for Scientists and Engineers I & II or 205 & 206-Honors Physics
Chem 105 & 106-Principles of Chemistry I & II or 115 & 116-Honors Chemistry
Math 220-Introductory Linear Algebra
Phys 303-Modern Physics I Biological Science courses
Cpt S 121-Program Design and Development
Math 313-Differential Equations
Phys 330-Thermal Physics
Engl 402-Technical/Professional Writing
MATERIALS PHYSICS OPTION
Chem 331 & 333-Physical Chemistry & Lab
MSE 312-Thermodynamics and Phase Equilibrium
Phys 304-Modern Physics II Phys 320-Mechanics
Phys 341 & 342-Electricity and Magnetism I & II Approved Math courses Approved Materials Science courses
MSE 301-Materials Science Phys 415-Quantum Physics Laboratory
Phys 450-Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
Phys 490-Undergraduate Thesis
MSE 321-Materials Characterization
MSE 413-Mechanics of Solids MSE 499-Special Problems
Phys 463-Introduction to Solid State Physics
Phys 465-Introductory Nuclear Physics
Note: See the WSU Catalog (http://www.catalog.wsu.edu/Pullman) for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.
- Scholarships and financial aid
Physics scholarships include the Paul and Dian Bender Freshman Physics Scholarship, the Claire May Band Freshman Physics Scholarship (for women), the Physics Transfer Student Scholarship, the Paul Anderson Award for Excellence in Physics, the Edward E. Donaldson Surface Science Scholarship, the George Duvall Scholarship in Shock Compression Science, and the Physics Textbook Scholarship. (For information contact the physics department at 509-335-1698.)
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs. Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
Students should complete the Washington State University general scholarship application and the FAFSA to ensure their eligibility for the widest range of scholarships and need-based financial aid.
For information or to apply for financial aid and scholarships from WSU, see the Scholarships and Finances section of the WSU website.
- Facilities and technology
The research and teaching facilities at WSU include a wide variety of lasers, that produce nanosecond to femtosecond pulses at a variety of wavelengths. Ultrahigh vacuum systems equipped with mass spectrometers, particle detectors, and spectrometers are available for the study of surfaces. Gas guns are employed to study shock waves in liquids and solids. Many atomic-scale surface structures are probed with scanning tunneling microscopes. Nanometer scale structures are produced and studied with scanning force microscopes. Available elsewhere on campus are Auger and photoelectron spectrometers, ESR and NMR spectrometers, transmission and scanning electron microscopes, and a nuclear reactor. The physics department operates the Jewett Observatory, with the largest refracting telescope in the state of Washington, and the WSU planetarium. A computer laboratory with a wide variety of computers and terminals is available to all physics majors.
- Careers in material physics
Careers open to those with the materials physics option include materials design engineer, test engineer, and research technician in industries where new or improved materials play an important role. These include a wide range of activities in electronics, transportation, energy storage, structural engineering, and consumer goods. The relevant materials include lubricants, coolants, semiconductors, metals, polymers, ceramics, glasses, and liquid crystals.