Department of Physics and Astronomy


Department Information:

Program Overview

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers Ph.D., M.S., M.S.E. (Master of Science and Education), and PSM-PV (Professional Science Master’s in Photovoltaics), degrees in physics with specializations in astronomy/astrophysics, photovoltaics and condensed matter physics, atomic and molecular physics, biophysics and medical physics, and photonics.

In addition to required courses, the Ph.D. degree requirements include residence for at least two consecutive semesters, successful completion of the Qualifying Exam and the Comprehensive Exam, culminating in the completion and successful defense of the thesis.  A joint Physics (Ph.D.) and Electrical Engineering (M.S.) degree program also is offered.

The PSM-PV degree program started in 2010, with the first set of graduates completing their internships in the summer of 2012.  This program combines the necessary physics and business skills for a Professional Science Master’s degree in Photovoltaics (PV) – designed as a “job ready” degree, preparing students for employment in industrial and academic/government programs for technology, business, and program management positions in photovoltaics.

A major graduate research focus is in experimental and theoretical studies of thin films for photovoltaics, with emphasis on studies of analysis, characterization, and modeling of deposition techniques and conditions, earth-abundant and low-toxicity materials, nanomaterials, and advanced optical spectroscopy.

Another major focus is in astronomy/astrophysics, with studies of stellar atmospheres and envelopes, star formation, interstellar matter, and climate on Mars.

The atomic and molecular physics focus includes studies of quantum-condensed phases, Rydberg state lifetimes, and accelerator-based optical spectroscopy.

The medical and biological physics focus includes accelerator-based research in radiation oncology and DNA bonding and structure.

The department has a collective strength and focus on advanced computational methods in treating astrophysical, atomic, plasma, and materials science problems.

Collaborative research activities include UT faculty within the Depts. of Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. In addition to research collaborations with other academic institutions, photovoltaics research includes joint efforts with scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  Department faculty members serve as the core of UT’s Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization (PVIC) established with support from the State of Ohio in 2007.  Department PV-oriented faculty also serve within the School for Solar and Advanced Renewable Energy (SSARE).



Last Updated: 8/28/19