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Master of Science in Physics

Course Descriptions

Core Courses

PHYS 540: Quantum Physics

Credits: 4

This course introduces students to concepts and methods of quantum physics: wave mechanics (de Broglie wavelength, uncertainty principle, Schrodinger equation), one- and three-dimensional examples (square well, free particle, tunneling), formalism of quantum physics (Hermitian operators and eigenfunctions), angular momentum and spin. 

PHYS 541: Applications of Quantum Physics

Credits: 4

This course focuses on techniques of quantum mechanics as applied to lasers, quantum electronics, solids and surfaces. The emphasis on approximation methods and interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter.

Prerequisites: PHYS 421, PHYS 441, PHYS 540 or equivalent

PHYS 543: Electromagnetic Theory

Credits: 4

This course covers the principal concepts of electromagnetism, static electric and magnetic fields, boundary-value problems, the electric and magnetic properties of materials, and electromagnetic waves and radiation.

PHYS 544: Applications of Electromagnetic Theory

Credits: 4

The emphasis of this course may vary from year to year. Topics may include electromagnetic waves, radiation, scattering, wave guides, plasma physics, quantum electronics and accelerator physics. 

Prerequisite: PHYS 543 or equivalent


Electives offered vary from year to year. The courses below will be offered in the 2021–2023 academic years. 

PHYS 530: Physics of Lasers

Credits: 4

This course introduces students to the physics underlying laser design and operation in the context of common laboratory systems. Topics may include continuous and pulsed lasers; solid, liquid and gas gain media; Q-switching; mode-locking; resonator theory; nonlinear optics and others.

Prerequisite: Basic quantum mechanics, electromagnetism and optics

PHYS 531: Contemporary Atomic Physics

Credits: 4

This course covers the theory of atomic structure and spectra; atomic and molecular beams; resonance techniques; atomic collisions; and topics of current interest.

Prerequisite:  PHYS 540 or equivalent

PHYS 536: Introduction to Acoustics & Digital Signal Processing

Credits: 4

This course introduces students to mathematical and physics principles of acoustics in digital signal processing applications. We'll cover complex analysis and Fourier methods, physics of vibrations and waves, solutions of the wave equation, digital convolution and correlation methods, and Maximum Length Sequence method in signal analysis and spread-spectrum applications.

Prerequisites: PHYS 123 and MATH 120

PHYS 542: Numerical Methods in Physics

Credits: 4

This course focuses on numerical methods for analysis and computation in physics. Topics may include integration, differential equations, partial differential equations, optimization, data handling and Monte Carlo techniques. Emphasis is on applications in physics. 

Prerequisite: Calculus, mathematical physics or equivalent

PHYS 545: Contemporary Optics

Credits: 4

This course covers ray optics, Fourier optics, lens systems, optical instruments, interferometry, laser optics, holography, polarization, crystal optics, birefringence, light sources and detectors.

Prerequisite: Calculus, mathematical physics or equivalent

PHYS 575: Physics of Sustainable Energy Sources

Credits: 4

This course covers thermodynamics in energy generation and transportation; fluid mechanics in relation to wind and wave energy sources; electric power generation and distribution; direct and indirect solar energy conversion; and the application of nuclear physics to new ideas in nuclear fission power systems and nuclear fusion power.

Prerequisite: PHYS 543, PHYS 540 or equivalent

PHYS 575: Quantum Computing

Credits: 4

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of quantum computation. Topics include physics of information processing, quantum logic, quantum algorithms, quantum error correction, quantum communication and cryptography.

PHYS 576: Nuclear Physics: Sources, Detectors & Safety 

Credits: 4

This course covers solid state detectors, radiation damage, radiation risks, particle accelerators, fission and fusion, reactors, radiation risk assessment, and nuclear astrophysics. It features hands-on lab sessions, including tuning a beam through our own UW linear accelerator and identifying nuclides from radiation spectra.

PHYS 600: Independent Study or Research

Credits: 1–9 (per term)

Study or do research under the supervision of individual faculty members.

(See instructions for supplementary one-credit course option.)

Prerequisite: Permission of supervisor. Credit/no-credit only.