Experimental research is being conducted in the following areas: the physics and chemistry of surfaces, including microsensors, catalysis, adhesion, thin film growth, surface crystallography, phase transitions, tribology, and development of new instrumentation; liquid crystals; environmental nuclear radiation; health physics; biophysics, including sensitive specific heat measurements, the biophysics of membranes and macromolecules; low temperature physics, including superconductivity; optical, x-ray, and radio observations of galaxies and clusters of galaxies; general relativity; physics education, investigating student learning. Theoretical work includes studies of galactic formation and stability, atomic and solid state theory, semi-conductors, non-linear systems, pattern formation, chemically-driven microscopic motors and pumps, radionuclide transport theories, statistical mechanics, equilibrium and nonequilibrium phase transitions, and surface physics.
Cooperative research projects involving students in Physics degree programs
have been conducted with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
in studies of semiconductor devices and sensor technology; the Department of
Chemistry in optical and resonance studies on anticancer compounds and polymers
on metallic surfaces; the Institute for Quaternary Studies in studies of glaciology;
the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology in studies
of nucleic acids; the Departments of Geological Sciences and Civil and Environmental
Engineering in natural radioactivity in the environment; and the Departments
of Biological Sciences and Geological Sciences in acid rain studies.
A major interdisciplinary research organization at the University is the Laboratory
for Surface Science and Technology in which research opportunities exist in
high technology areas related to surfaces, interfaces, and thin film materials.
Specific information is available at www.ume.maine.edu/LASST/.
The Department’s machine shop, electronic shop, and many specialized facilities
essential to the experimental research programs listed above, are available.
In addition, the University’s IBM 3090 Computer with vector processing in conjunction
with the Cornell University Supercomputer Network is available for suitable
research activities. A network of Sun and Linux PC workstations for data reduction
and numerical simulation is available to students working in the area of astrophysics,
particularly (but not exclusively) in the construction of realistic models of
galactic dynamics. There is a cluster of computers in the department available
for student use and individual computers in most graduate student offices.
The Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology has facilities for thin film
synthesis, processing, and characterization; scanning probe microscopies; optical
and electron spectroscopies; X-ray and electron diffraction; sensor device testing
and electronic characterization; gas absorption and desorption analysis; Class
1000 clean room for microelectronic device fabrication.
Programs of study leading to the degrees of Master of Science, Master of Engineering
(Engineering Physics), and Doctor of Philosophy are offered through the Department
of Physics and Astronomy.
The program of graduate study for the master’s degree, which normally requires
two academic years on a half-time basis, is developed around an original investigation,
the results of which are presented as a thesis.
Of the minimum of 30 semester hours required for the Master of Science degree,
24 are devoted to courses in physics and such allied fields as other sciences,
mathematics, and engineering. However, the following courses or their equivalents,
which are offered every year, must be included: PHY 501 Mechanics; PHY 502 Electrodynamics
I, and PHY 503 Quantum Mechanics I.
A minimum of 30 semester hours is also required for the Master of Engineering
(Engineering Physics) degree. Of the total of 24 required course hours, nine
hours must be selected from a meaningful engineering course sequence. In addition,
nine hours must be selected from three of the following courses: PHY 501 Mechanics,
PHY 502 Electrodynamics I, PHY 503 Quantum Mechanics I, and PHY 510 Graduate
Laboratory. A thesis is optional but is strongly encouraged. The thesis may
be completed in either the Physics Department or the engineering department
in which the engineering course sequence is taken. Satisfactory completion of
the non-thesis option requires 36 hours of course credits.
Typically a total of 5-6 years are needed to complete the Ph.D. degree for
a student who enters the program with a bachelor’s degree. This time is approximately
equally divided between course work and thesis research. A thesis presenting
the results of an original investigation in a specialized area of physics is
an essential feature of the program. Requirements also include passing the comprehensive
examination, normally attempted during the third year of study beyond the bachelor’s
The program of study for each student in the Ph.D. program includes a minimum
of 42 course hours. The following courses, or their equivalents, are required
of all students: PHY 501 Mechanics; PHY 502 Electrodynamics I; PHY 574 Methods
of Theoretical Physics; PHY 503 Quantum Mechanics I; PHY 603 Quantum Mechanics
II; PHY 512 Statistical Mechanics; PHY 510 Graduate Laboratory. In addition,
students must take at least one advanced course in the areas of these required
courses and at least one course in areas distinct from the areas of these required
courses, for a total of three such courses.
In addition to satisfying the general admission requirements of the Graduate
School, candidates for advanced degrees in physics should have completed at
least 16 semester hours in physics beyond the introductory course and have studied
mathematics at least through differential equations. Candidates who have majored
in other physical sciences or mathematics are encouraged to apply. A candidate’s
preparation for graduate study in physics or astronomy can be strengthened by
taking selected undergraduate courses for graduate credit.
Teaching assistantships are available for the academic year and include remission
of tuition for up to nine credit hours per semester and three credit hours in
the summer session. These appointments provide for approximately half-time teaching
and half-time study. Teaching assignments usually involve six contact hours
per week. Summer support is usually available for students in the program.
The University of Maine supports a number of University fellowships and tuition
scholarships. Research assistantships are also available in some of the areas
of investigation listed above.
Applications are accepted at any time for admission in the Fall (September),
the Spring (January), or the Summer (June) semester. Application materials can
be obtained from the Graduate School, 5782 Winslow Hall, Room 2, Orono, ME 04469-5782,
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or downloaded
from the web site www.umaine.edu/graduate/.
Individual faculty may be contacted via their email addresses above. The department’s
home page is www.physics.maine.edu/.
Alternatively, the Graduate Coordinator can be reached by regular mail at Department
of Physics and Astronomy, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, by telephone
at (207) 581-1016, or by FAX at (207) 581-3410.
Susan R. McKay, Ph.D. (M.I.T., 1987), Professor and Chair. Condensed
matter theory, phase transitions and critical phenomena, systems with quenched
disorder, spin glasses, random-field ferromagnets, systems far from equilibrium,
pattern formation, non-linear systems, and chaos. (e-mail:
R. Dean Astumian, Ph.D. (Texas-Arlington, 1983), Professor. Design of
microscopic mechanical and electrical pumps and motors powered by non-equilibrium
isothermal chemical reactions. (e-mail: email@example.com)
David J. Batuski, Ph.D. (New Mexico, 1986), Professor. Observational
cosmology, large-scale structure in the universe, dynamics of galaxy clusters,
interacting galaxies and radio sources. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Karl D. Bishop, Ph.D. (Syracuse, 1992), Assistant Professor, Bucknell
University. Nuclear magnetic resonance, biochemistry.
Kenneth R. Brownstein, Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1966),
Professor. Quantum mechanics and electromagnetic theory. (e-mail: email@example.com)
Neil F. Comins, Ph.D. (University College, Cardiff, 1978), Professor.
Galactic formation, structure, stability, evolution stellar stability, observational
astronomy (optical, radio), computational astrophysics general relativity, and
astronomy education. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Charles T. Hess, Ph.D. (Ohio, 1967), Professor. Alpha and gamma spectroscopy,
x-ray fluorescence, environmental radioactivity, radon in water and air, and
health physics. (e-mail: email@example.com)
Peter H. Kleban, Ph.D. (Brandeis, 1970), Professor. Member of the Laboratory
for Surface Science and Technology (LASST). Theory of phase transitions, surface
science, and electron spectrometers. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Robert J. Lad, Ph.D. (Cornell, 1986), Professor. Director of the Laboratory
for Surface Science and Technology (LASST). Surface physics and chemistry, ceramic
materials, interfaces, thin films and gas-surface interactions. (e-mail: email@example.com)
James McClymer, Ph.D. (Delaware, 1986), Associate Professor. Digital
imaging and light scattering from equilibrium and nonequilibrium phase transitions
in liquid crystals. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Richard A. Morrow, Ph.D. (Princeton, 1963), Professor. Semiconductor
theory and defects in GaAs. (e-mail: email@example.com)
Donald B. Mountcastle, Ph.D. (Virginia, 1971), Associate Professor.
Molecular biophysics, structure and function of biological and model membranes,
cooperative interactions, microcalorimetry, and thermodynamics.(e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Charles W. Smith, Ph.D. (Ohio, 1968), Professor. Low temperature experimental
physics, superconductivity, point contact spectroscopy, and condensed matter
physics. (e-mail: email@example.com)
William N. Unertl, Ph.D. (Wisconsin, 1973), Professor. Member of the
Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST). Surface physics and chemistry,
atomic force microscopy electron spectroscopy, surface structure, friction and
adhesion. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michael C. Wittmann, Ph.D. (Maryland, 1998), Assistant Professor. Director
of the Laboratory for Research in Physics Education (LRPE). Investigating student
learning (wave physics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism), research-based
curriculum development and dissemination, modeling student reasoning in physics.
David P. Feldman, Ph.D. (California-Davis, 1998), Professor, College
of the Atlantic. Nonlinear dynamics, information theory, statistical mechanics.
David Frankel, Ph.D. (Stanford, 1978), Senior Research Scientist, Laboratory
for Surface Science and Technology. Surface science and vacuum technology.
Jayendra C. Rasaiah, Ph.D. (Pittsburgh, 1965), Professor. Statistical
mechanics of electrolytes and polar fluids, computer simulation studies of solutions,
fluctuation-dominated kinetics in heterogeneous media, theory of electron transfer
reactions, and molecular biophysical chemistry.