Above: Representations of the birth of massive black holes in the early universe — see research story here. (John Wise / Nature Journal)
The School of Physics at Georgia Tech is charged with creating fundamental knowledge through research and with educating students in both foundational and emergent physical concepts. At the graduate level, these missions are tightly coupled: the creativity and drive of Ph.D. and M.S. students powers the School’s research engine. Undergraduates pursuing B.S. degrees in Physics or Applied Physics also figure into our research goals, with research experience formalized in independent study courses, paid assistantships, vertically-integrated program (VIP) research, and dedicated laboratory courses. Beyond our own students, the School plays a central role campus-wide by providing in-depth instruction in the physical principles that underpin most majors at Georgia Tech. For non-physics undergraduates, the perception of our School is shaped by their experience in these large introductory physics courses. We strive to continuously improve this experience—and student outcomes—through a program of physics education research involving several academic faculty.
Faculty in the School of Physics engage in a broad range of theoretical, computational, and experimental research, developing and testing ideas that often resonate with other disciplines throughout Georgia Tech. The School is a key player in broader initiatives established within the College of Sciences, including quantum systems, neuroscience and the physics of movement, microbial dynamics, planetary sciences and astrophysics, and data science/machine learning. This breadth of research — and far more — falls into six main subfields within the School, described below. Readers are encouraged to consult the websites of the faculty involved in each and to contact them for additional information.
For more information, please explore the links below.
The Astrophysics (AST) group investigates a broad range of topics including exoplanets, stars, large-scale structure formation in the early universe, and extreme environments of compact objects. Faculty in the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (CRA) are actively engaged in multi-messenger and computational astrophysics and hold leadership positions in international collaborations such as IceCube and Trinity (neutrinos), NuSTAR and Athena (X-rays), VERITAS and CTA (gamma rays), LIGO and LISA (gravitational waves), and Enzo (computational astrophysics).
The Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics group investigates ultracold atoms, miniature atomic devices and technology, quantum optics, quantum information, and ultrafast laser science; probing the fundamental physical limits to the engineering of quantum states of matter and light.
Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) faculty develop and characterize quantum materials such as epitaxial graphene, topological insulators and semimetals, and quantum spin liquids – materials for which many-electron coherence and entanglement play central roles. CMP research is often done in collaboration with other Schools at GT, with national and international labs, and with other universities.
Core efforts in the Non-Linear Sciences (NLS) focus on the physics of granular media, fluid dynamics, and electronic systems, as well as problems lying at the interfaces between physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. By its interdisciplinary nature, NLS interfaces with several other research groups within the School as well as faculty in the Colleges of Science, Engineering, and Computing.
Physics of Living Systems (PoLS) faculty answer fundamental physics questions posed by living systems, with the view that physics is far more than a simple toolkit for these studies. The interplay of such systems with their environment can point toward new physical insights across many scales.
The Soft Matter Physics (SMP) group elucidates the physics of matter that can be squished, folded, or knotted. Soft materials are central to everyday life as well as to living systems, yet quantifying their physical behaviors can be a challenge. SMP is inherently interdisciplinary, with ties to the Schools of Biological Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Mathematics, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the College of Design.
Recent Research & News
In the last two decades investigations of nonlinear phenomena in nature have developed into a field of great importance that affects many branches of natural science and technology. The multidisciplinary Center for Nonlinear Sciences brings together the exceptional strength across the GT campus in this field. It aims to foster experimental and theoretical approaches that stress the unity of the concepts underlying a wide range of physical and biological nonlinear phenomena.
In the last two decades investigations of nonlinear phenomena in nature have developed into a field of great importance that affects many branches of natural science and technology. The multidisciplinary Center for Nonlinear Science brings together the exceptional strength across the GT campus in this field. It aims to foster experimental and theoretical approaches that stress the unity of the concepts underlying a wide range of physical and biological nonlinear phenomena.
The Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (CRA) is devoted to interdisciplinary research and education linking astrophysics, astroparticle physics, numerical relativity and gravitational wave physics. Our research focuses on extreme astrophysics such as mergers of black holes and neutron stars, central engines of active galactic nuclei, gamma ray bursts, and sources of the high energy cosmic rays and neutrinos.
Above: X-ray diffraction through living muscle (Agile Systems Lab at Georgia Tech)
Working under the supervision of a physics faculty member, undergraduates can focus on a single research project but also gain a broad perspective on research in physics by participating in the dynamic research environment of the labs in the School of Physics.
Available projects span the field of physics ranging from condensed matter and atomic physics to astrophysics and biophysics.
There might be other unlisted projects available in the research areas outlined above, so feel free to contact the faculty member to inquire about open positions.