PhoTOnics Track

Light is pure energy. Efficient and clean conversion of sunlight into electrical power appears to be the best solution to the sustainable energy problem on Earth. Light is information. When correctly interpreted, light originating from objects or scattered from them can reveal behavior from the smallest and fastest (atomic) to largest and longest (universe) scales, it can transmit streams of data at enormous rates, it can identify the presence of hazardous chemicals and explosives, and pinpoint the location of an object anywhere on earth to within a few meters. Light is control. When properly utilized, light beamed onto matter can initiate and control reactivity and function, from guiding the motion of electrons within individual atoms, to photosynthesis, to surface texturing and laser surgery. Because lasers are sources of the brightest, most well-controlled and well-characterized light possible, their use is ubiquitous in our modern world.

At the most fundamental level, light, matter and their mutual interactions are described by quantum physics. Basic science exploration and discovery continually expose new facets of the quantum response of matter to light and light to matter. This research is the key to establishing new paradigms for approaching very hard problems, such as quantum computing, efficient optical to electrical energy conversion, absolutely secure communication, or visualizing and controlling energy flow in molecules. In addition, understanding how to control light and matter is important for developing new tools and methods for a wide variety of applications. These tools enable new measurements, closing the loop on the cycle of discovery.

Courses recommended for this track:
MSE 6167 Electronic, magnetic and optical properties of materials
ECE 5241  Optics and Lasers
new courses in development: Novel photonic effects and materials
PHYS 5310 Optics
PHYS 5320 Fundamentals of Photonics
MATH 5210/5220 or APMA course on Fourier Analysis and linear algebra

Physics Core Courses
note: at least one of these course packages has to be completed by all EP students

Quantum Mechanics I and II PHYS 7610 (Fall) PHYS 7620 (Spring)
Theoretical Mechanics /
Statistical Mechanics
PHYS 7010 (Fall) PHYS 7210 (Spring)
Electricity and Magnetism I/II       PHYS 7410 (Fall) PHYS 7420 (Spring)


  The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at