Department overview

Physics is the most fundamental of sciences and lies at the foundation of nearly all technical fields.
The mission of the Missouri S&T Physics Department is:

  • To perform cutting-edge physics research aimed at expanding human knowledge and fostering
    technological applications.
  • To educate and train the next generation of scientists and engineers.
  • To disseminate knowledge for the benefit of the state of Missouri, the nation, and the world.

Our department is uniquely positioned within the University of Missouri System and the entire state. We have strong research programs in astrophysics; atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics; as well as condensed matter and materials physics. The AMO physics program is the only such program in the University of Missouri System. Our astrophysics program houses the only LIGO (gravitational wave) research group in the state. The department is heavily involved in interdisciplinary activities, in particular in materials research and high-performance computing.

Three of our faculty members are Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS), and two carry the title of Curators' Professor within the University of Missouri System. Department research is funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the US Department of Energy, and other agencies.

The department offers an undergraduate BS degree in physics as well as graduate MS and PhD degrees. Chancellor's distinguished fellowships are available to domestic graduate students.

We cordially invite applications for entry into the physics undergraduate and graduate programs. Inquiries are to be directed to Dr. Alexey Yamilov, director of graduate admissions, at yamilov@mst.edu, or to Dr. Thomas Vojta, chair of the physics department, at vojtat@mst.edu.

Research directions

ASTROphysics

The Institute of Multi-messenger Astrophysics and Cosmology (IMAC) is at the forefront or modern research in multi-messenger astrophysics, theoretical and observational cosmology, and experimental and theoretical gravitational physics.  Multi-messenger astrophysics is a new branch of science born with the historic detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and the first, far-reaching observation of a merger of two neutron stars. Missouri S&T is an institutional member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and actively participates to the LIGO experiment. Research in theoretical and observational cosmology focuses on studying the large-scale structure of the Universe to reveal its origin and fate.  Missouri S&T researchers are part of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) and the Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS) experiments. Faculty members working in this are  Marco Cavaglia and Shun Saito.

Atomic physics

On the experimental side, the atomic physics group combines collision physics and laser instrumentation  in order to study fundamental processes connected with an emphasis on the quantum-mechanical many-body problem. On the theoretical side, massively parallel computer codes are employed to describe the complex collision dynamics involving molecules, and quantum electrodynamic techniques are used for accurate predictions of atomic spectra, and the description of dynamic processes involving atoms and photons. Faculty members pursuing research in this direction are Michael Schulz, Jerry PeacherUlrich Jentschura, Greg StoryDaniel Fischer and Anh Thu Le

Condensed matter physics

On the experimental side, the group has been successful at studying new materials, including crystal structures with novel properties, and has been studying mesoscopic superconducting junctions and devices. Theorists in the group combine massively parallel Monte Carlo simulations for the study of low-temperature, and quantum phase transitions. Other aspects of the diverse research program carried out in the solid-state physics group include  the complex structure of amorphous oxide semiconductors , wave propagation in complex media, and thermal and mechanical properties of materials in extreme environments. Faculty members active in this area are Aleksandr ChernatynskiyYew San HorJulia MedvedevaPaul Parris, Thomas VojtaDan Waddill, Gerry Wilemski, and  Alexey Yamilov.