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2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin

Department of Physics

College of Arts and Sciences

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Chair: Horst Wahl; Associate Chair: Nicholas Bonesteel; Professors: Adams, Berg, Blessing, Boebinger, Bonesteel, Cao, Capstick, Chiorescu, Cottle, Dobrosavljevic, Duke, Eugenio, Gorkov, Green, Hill, Hoeflich, Manousakis, Owens, Piekarewicz, Prosper, Reina, Rikvold, Riley, Roberts, Schlottmann, Tabor, Van Winkle, Wiedenhoever, Xiong, Yang, Zhou; Associate Professors: Askew, Crede, Lind, Ng, Okui, Vafek,Volya; Assistant Professors: Almaraz-Calderon, Beekman, Collins, Gao, Hsiao, Huffenberger, Kolberg, Murphy, Yohay; Professors Emeriti: Albright, Desloge, Edwards, Fletcher, Hagopian, Kemper, Kimel, Kromhout, G. Moulton, W. Moulton, Philpott, Plendl, Robson, Schrieffer, Skofronick, Testardi, von Molnar

The Department of Physics offers programs of study leading to the Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. The department is strongly committed to graduate education and supports it by maintaining a strong, well-funded, and diverse research program.

A basic goal of the program of graduate education is to prepare students for careers in research and related fields. It is intended that graduates will have the education and training necessary to enable them to make fundamental contributions to knowledge in physics or their chosen field. Further, it is anticipated that they will be peers with the next generation of technology leaders in industry, government, and academia.

The faculty believes that the quality of teaching, at all levels, is enhanced by a strong research program. Undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows participate in all aspects of research in physics at Florida State University. In fact, most undergraduate physics majors participate in research projects and many are co-authors on publications. This research includes strong programs in the area of computational physics and both experimental and theoretical studies in high energy, nuclear, condensed matter, astrophysics, and atomic and molecular physics. There are also many opportunities for interdisciplinary research, particularly in the Integrative NanoScience Institute (INSI), the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), the Department of Scientific Computing, and the Institute of Molecular Biophysics (IMB).

Available experimental facilities include the following: a 9.5 MV Super FN Tandem Van de Graaff accelerator with superconducting post accelerator, the RESOLUT radioactive beam facility, a state-of-the-art gamma spectroscopy array, electron spin resonance and electron double nuclear resonance spectrometers, a detector development laboratory for high-energy particle detectors, liquid helium refrigerators, thin film preparation facilities including sputtering and laser ablation, ultrahigh vacuum instrumentation including surface analysis (LEED, Auger, optical) and molecular beam epitaxy, synthesis and characterization facilities for novel materials, three X-ray diffractomers with various sample stages for high and low temperature studies, multi-sample analysis and small angle studies, scanning electron, tunneling and optical microscopies with image analysis, SQUID and vibrating sample magnetometers, and a helium atom surface scattering facility. The NHMFL provides a modern infrastructure enabling research in magnetic fields including the highest powered DC fields in the world, mainly used for materials science research, and facilities providing the highest fields in the world for nuclear, ion cyclotron and electron magnetic resonance spectometers as well as magnetic resonance imaging.

Computational resources are an integral part of scientific research in the department and play an increasingly important role in preparing students for careers in both commercial and academic fields. Recent advances in data acquisition, algorithm development, and computer hardware have made high performance computing fundamentally necessary to remain competitive. The Physics Department has been actively involved in high performance computing for many years. Researchers in the department are responsible for the design, acquisition, installation, and operations of many computing clusters with an aggregate of over 1000 CPUs and over 100 terabytes of disk storage. The University has acquired a wide array of computing facilities to meet its research needs and maintains an ambitious plan to continually upgrade current shared supercomputing facilities. Since 1993, FSU has maintained high performance computing facilities on campus, which have consistently put the University on the “Top 500 Supercomputer” site ( The shared-HPC facility is capable of over thirty-eight TFLOPS. The system consists of over 3800 CPU cores. Inter-process communication runs over an Infiniband network. All compute and log in nodes have access to a 190 TByte Panasas high performance parallel Object Storage Device. The HPC general access network infrastructure is connected to FSU’s ten-Gbps campus network backbone and to the ten-Gbps Florida Lambda Rail.


Please review all college-wide degree requirements summarized in “College of Arts and Sciences” chapter of this Graduate Bulletin. The physics department also has a Guide to Graduate Studies in Physics at Florida State University. This booklet is about twenty-five pages in length and contains all the requirements and advice to students studying graduate physics.

Course Requirements

The physics department offers six core graduate courses that every student must pass with a cumulative grade average of no less than “B.” These courses are PHY 5246: Theoretical Dynamics; PHY 5524: Statistical Mechanics; PHY 5346 and PHY 5347, Electrodynamics A, and B; and PHY 5645 and PHY 5646, Quantum Mechanics A, and B.

For the master’s degree a student must take at least three of the above core courses, including at least one course in quantum mechanics. For the doctoral degree, the student is required to also take either: PHY 5667, Quantum Field Theory; or PHY 5670, Quantum Many-Body Physics. After attaining mastery of the content of the core graduate courses, a PhD student is required to take two of the following six courses: PHZ 5305, Nuclear Physics I; PHZ 5315, Nuclear Astrophysics; PHZ 5354, High Energy Physics I; PHZ 5491, Condensed Matter Physics I; or PHZ 5715, Biophysics I. In addition, the student is required to complete one more course from the following set: AST 5245, Radiative Processes in Astronomy; PHZ 5307, Nuclear Physics II; PHZ 5355, High Energy Physics II; PHZ 5492, Condensed Matter Physics II; PHZ 5669, Quantum Field Theory B; or PHZ 5716, Biophysics II, and at least one of the following courses: AST 5765, Advanced Analysis Techniques in Astronomy; AST 5760, Computational Astrophysics; PHY 5669, Quantum Field Theory B; PHY 6937, Selected Topics in Physics (Materials Characterization); or PHY 6938, Selected Topics in Physics (Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena). Though there are no other specific course requirements, the student is encouraged to take other specialized courses that are offered by the physics department. Please check the departmental Web page at, as adjustments to the program of study are made routinely.


Master’s Comprehensive Examination — PHY 8966. For thesis students this examination is the defense of the thesis. For non-thesis students, this oral examination is given by three physics faculty members and covers the subjects of mechanics, quantum mechanics and electromagnetism. One of these areas, chosen by the student, will be examined at the graduate core course level. This examination is waived for students who have completed four of the graduate core courses with a grade of “B” or better.

Qualifying Examination. This examination is the written examination that all students must pass within the first two years to be able to continue toward the PhD degree. Any student who elects to strengthen their upper-level undergraduate physics background by taking one or more of our cross-listed undergraduate courses gets four tries at the written qualifier exam, but these start after their first year here, i.e. at the beginning of their second year.

Preliminary Doctoral Exam — PHY 8964. The PhD preliminary examination consists of: 1) a written tentative prospectus of a research topic suitable for PhD dissertation; and 2) an oral examination by the student’s supervisory committee on the tentative prospectus administered.

PhD Dissertation Defense — PHY 8985. The last examination is the oral dissertation defense given by the candidate’s Supervisory Committee, which has two parts: a public presentation of the dissertation topic, and second, a closed portion where only the graduate faculty can attend. The length of each portion is decided by the supervisory committee.

Master’s Degree Requirements

Both thesis and non-thesis programs are offered leading to the master’s degree. The student must complete the specific course requirements listed above. Every candidate is required to teach one elementary laboratory for one semester.

To qualify for a non-thesis degree, a student must complete thirty-three semester hours in courses numbered 5000 and above. At least twenty-one semester hours must be taken on a letter grade basis.

Thesis students must complete thirty semester hours in courses numbered 5000 and above. At least eighteen semester hours must be taken on a letter grade basis. A minimum of six semester hours must be earned in PHY 5971 (Thesis).

For both thesis and non-thesis degrees, at least nine semester hours must be earned in the core courses PHY 5246, 5346, 5347, 5524, 5645 and 5646, including at least one course in quantum mechanics. In addition, no more than three semester hours each of PHY 5918 (Supervised Research) and 5940 (Supervised Teaching) may be counted toward the required semester hours.

PhD Degree Requirements

A MS degree is not required for the PhD degree. Before a student can be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree, the student must: 1) Pass all six graduate level courses with a cumulative grade average of no less than “B” and 2) pass the preliminary doctoral examination. In addition each doctoral candidate is required to teach two elementary laboratory sections for one semester. After completing all of the above mentioned requirements the student is admitted to PhD candidacy and can register for PHY 6980 (dissertation). There are time limits between examinations specified in the Physics Graduate Studies Guide. Students must have a minimum of twenty-four credit hours of PHY 6980: Dissertation before they can defend their Dissertation.

Each student is required to choose a major professor no later than during the second semester. The major professor, in consultation with the student, will form a supervisory committee no later than one month before the student is ready to take the oral portion of the preliminary doctoral examination. The committee must meet and review the student’s progress annually. The composition of the supervisory committee is specified in the Physics Graduate Studies Guide.

Research is an integral part of a PhD program and students are encouraged to start as soon as possible. No student can stay in the PhD program beyond the sixth semester (each summer counts as one semester) without giving evidence of explicit research accomplishments. The various options to satisfy this requirement are specified in the Physics Graduate Studies Guide.

Definition of Prefixes



PHZ—Physics: Continued

Graduate Courses

Note: The prerequisites are to be interpreted rather liberally; in general, instructor permission can replace any prerequisite.

AST 5210. Introduction to Astrophysics (3). Prerequisites: MAC2312 and PHY2049C. This course introduces science majors to key aspects and concepts of modern astronomy and astrophysics. Topics cover coordinate systems, instrumentation, our sun and planets, stars and stellar evolution, binary systems and variable stars, stellar explosions, galaxies, as well as the evolution of the universe.

AST 5219r. Astrophysics Seminar (1). Prerequisite: AST 5210. This seminar introduces students to current research topics in astronomy and astrophysics through the presentation and discussion of recently published research papers, own research work, and occasional review publications. Topics cover observational and theoretical astrophysics alike. May be repeated to a maximum of two semester hours.

AST 5245. Radiative Processes in Astronomy (3). Prerequisite: AST 5210. Corequisite: PHY 4604. This course provides an introduction to radiation processes and their applications to astrophysical phenomena and space science for senior or first-year graduate students. Topics cover radiative transfer theory, radiation hydrodynamics and matter-light interactions in the interstellar medium and star-forming regions, stellar atmospheres, exploding stars, as well as galaxies.

AST 5342. Hydrodynamics and Plasma for Astrophysics (3). This course is an introduction to the hydrodynamics, plasma physics, and magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) necessary for an understanding of astrophysical processes. No prior knowledge of hydrodynamics is needed.

AST 5416. Cosmology and Structure Formation (3). Prerequisites: AST 4211 and PHY 3101. This course covers the evolution of the universe from the “Hot Big Bang” to the current epoch. Topics include cosmological expansion, the Hubble constant and other cosmological parameters, the microwave-background radiation, early universe nucleosynthesis, the growth of large-scale structure, the “dark ages” and the re-ionization of the universe, the horizon and other fine-tuning problems, distance determinations, redshift surveys, inflation, cosmological acceleration, as well as dark matter and dark energy.

AST 5418. Extragalactic Astronomy (3). Prerequisite: AST 4211. This course offers a survey of the physics and phenomenology of galaxies and galaxy structures. Topics include stellar populations, classification systems, interstellar and intergalactic material, chemical abundances and evolution, galaxy formation, structure, dynamics and evolution, extragalactic distance determination, interacting systems, as well as active galactic nuclei.

AST 5725. Observational Techniques in Astrophysics (3). Prerequisite: AST 4211. This course covers principles and techniques used in obtaining modern astronomical data. Includes an overview of current and next-generation astronomical instrumentation, discussion of calibration schemes and observing strategies, and an introduction to analysis techniques.

AST 5760. Computational Astrophysics (3). Prerequisite: AST 5210. Corequisites: CGS 3406 or PHY 4151C. This course offers an introduction to numerical methods in the context of observational and theoretical astrophysics. Topics cover interpolation approximation, minimization and optimization, solution of linear systems of equations, random number generation, function integration, numerical differentiation, numerical integration of ordinary differential equations, stiff systems of ODEs, as well as a survey of methods for partial differential equations, such as Poisson equation, heat diffusion, and hydrodynamics.

AST 5765. Advanced Analysis Techniques in Astronomy (3). Prerequisite: AST 4722 and AST 4211. This course offers a survey of advanced data-analysis and statistical techniques available to modern astronomical researchers. Topics include subpixel imaging, image deconvolution, point-spread function modeling, crowded field photometry, survey completeness, Malmquist and other statistical biases, automated data mining, image differencing techniques, astrometric solutions, working with low-signal-to-noise data, fitting models to data, modeling synthetic data, as well as real-world error determination.

PHY 5157. Advanced Numerical Applications in Physics (3). Prerequisites: PHY 4151C, 4604. Course consists of an introduction to a variety of numerical techniques for the solution of differential equations (D.E.) as well as an exploration of some of the power behind Monte Carlo (M.C.) methods.

PHY 5226. Intermediate Mechanics (3). The principles and applications of the Newtonian mechanics of particles and systems of particles. Non-inertial reference frames, simple and damped harmonic motion, central force motion, and the motion of a rigid body in a plane.

PHY 5227. Advanced Mechanics (3). Prerequisites: PHY 3221 or 5226 or its equivalent. Kinematics and dynamics of rigid bodies. An introduction to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics. The dynamics of oscillating systems.

PHY 5228. Mechanics II (3). Prerequisite: PHY 3221, PHZ 3113, or instructor permission. This course covers Lagrangian dynamics, Hamiltonian dynamics, dynamics or rigid bodies, coupled oscillations, waves in one-dimensional continuous systems, and special relativity.

PHY 5246. Theoretical Dynamics (3). Prerequisite: PHY 4222 or 5227. Lagrangian mechanics, central force motion, rigid body motion, small oscillations, Hamiltonian mechanics, canonical transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi theory variational principles.

PHY 5326. Electricity and Magnetism I (3). Prerequisite: PHY 3221, PHZ 3113, or instructor permission. This course covers electric fields for static charge distributions, electric fields in matter, magnetic fields for constant current configurations, magnetic fields in matter, and Maxwell’s equations.

PHY 5327. Electricity and Magnetism II (3). Prerequisite: PHY 5326 or instructor permission. This course covers electromagnetic wave solutions to Maxwell’s equations; reflection, transmission, dispersion, and absorption of electromagnetic waves; scalar and vector potentials; electromagnetic dipole radiation; electrodynamics; and relativity.

PHY 5346. Electrodynamics A (3). Prerequisite: PHY 4324 or 5327. Electrostatics, magnetostatics, time-varying fields, production and propagation of electromagnetic radiation, special theory of relativity, covariant electrodynamics.

PHY 5347. Electrodynamics B (3). Prerequisite: PHY 4324 or 5327. Electrostatics, magnetostatics, time-varying fields, production and propagation of electromagnetic radiation, special theory of relativity, covariant electrodynamics.

PHY 5515. Thermal and Statistical Physics (3). The fundamental laws of thermodynamics and their application to simple systems. The kinetic theory of an ideal gas. An introduction to the classical and quantum statistical mechanics of weakly interacting systems.

PHY 5524. Statistical Mechanics (3). Prerequisites: PHY 4513 or 5515, 4605 or 5608r, 5246. Classical and quantum statistics of weakly interacting systems, ensembles, statistical thermodynamics.

PHY 5607r. Quantum Theory of Matter A (3). Quantum mechanics and its applications to particles, nuclei, atoms, molecules, and condensed matter. May be repeated within the same term.

PHY 5608r. Quantum Theory of Matter B (3). Quantum mechanics and its applications to particles, nuclei, atoms, molecules, and condensed matter. May be repeated within the same term.

PHY 5645. Quantum Mechanics A (3). Prerequisite: PHY 4605 or 5608r. Development of quantum theory from wave mechanics to matrix mechanics, approximation methods with applications in modern physics, elementary scattering theory, relativistic quantum theory.

PHY 5646. Quantum Mechanics B (3). Prerequisite: PHY 4605 or 5608r. Development of quantum theory from wave mechanics to matrix mechanics, approximation methods with applications in modern physics, elementary scattering theory, relativistic quantum theory.

PHY 5657. Group Theory and Angular Momentum (3). Prerequisite: PHY 5645. Corequisite: PHY 5646. This course examines the following: symmetries and group theory; permutation groups and crystallographic groups; continuous groups and Lie algebras; SU(2) and angular momentum; SU(3) flavor and color; SU(N) Lie algebras and examples.

PHY 5667. Quantum Field Theory (3). Prerequisites: PHY 5246, 5346, 5347, 5645, or instructor permission. Lagrangian Field theory, quantization of scalar, spinor, and vector fields, perturbation theory, renormalization, quantum electrodynamics.

PHY 5669. Quantum Field Theory B (3). Prerequisite: PHY 5667. This course is the second semester of quantum field theory, and examines path integral quantization, renormalization, renormalization group, non-Abelian gauge theories and the Standard Model.

PHY 5670. Quantum Many-body Physics (3). Prerequisites: PHY 5246, 5346, 5524, 5645, 5646. This course examines quantum many-body physics as applied to condensed matter, atomic, and nuclear physics.

PHY 5904r. Directed Individual Study (3). May be repeated to a maximum of thirty-six semester hours.

PHY 5909r. Directed Individual Study (1–12). (S/U grade only). May be repeated to a maximum of forty-eight semester hours.

PHY 5918r. Supervised Research (1–5). (S/U grade only). A maximum of three hours may apply to the master’s degree. May be repeated to a maximum of five semester hours.

PHY 5920r. Colloquium (1). (S/U grade only). A series of lectures given by faculty and visiting scientists. May be repeated to a maximum of ten semester hours.

PHY 5930. Introductory Seminar on Research (1). (S/U grade only). A series of lectures given by faculty on the research being conducted by the physics department.

PHY 5940r. Supervised Teaching (0–5). (S/U grade only). Laboratory teaching under the direction of a senior faculty member. A maximum of three semester hours may apply to the master’s degree. May be repeated to a maximum of five semester hours.

PHY 5971r. Thesis (3–6). (S/U grade only). A minimum of six semester hours is required.

PHY 6937r. Selected Topics in Physics (1–3). Prerequisite: Graduate standing. May be repeated to a maximum of fifteen semester hours.

PHY 6938r. Special Topics in Physics (3). (S/U grade only). Each semester a number of courses labeled PHY 6938r may be scheduled. The exact content of each of these courses will depend on the interests and needs of the students and faculty. Proposals for special topics courses will be submitted by individual faculty members to the Graduate Affairs Committee three months prior to the scheduling of these courses. Student or faculty groups are encouraged to approach an appropriate faculty member and persuade him or her to submit a proposal for a course they feel is needed. The following titles reflect potential offerings: Models and Reactions in Nuclear Physics, Experimental Methods in Nuclear Physics, Theoretical Nuclear Physics, Intermediate Energy Nuclear Physics, Quantum Field Theory, Phenomenological Theories in Particle Physics, Experimental Methods in Particle Physics, Solid State Theory, Theory of Magnetism, Advanced Quantum Mechanics, Molecular Quantum Mechanics, Advanced Statistical Physics, Atomic Structure, Theory of Infrared Spectra, Electron and Atom Collisions, Molecular Collisions, General Relativity and Cosmology, Astrophysics, Magnetic Resonance. May be repeated to a maximum of eighteen semester hours.

PHY 6941r. Graduate Tutorial in Physics (1–3). (S/U grade only). Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Selected topics in modern physics. Readings and analysis of primary literature. Maximum of eight students in each tutorial. May be repeated to a maximum of fifteen semester hours.

PHY 6980r. Dissertation (1–12). (S/U grade only).

PHY 8964r. Preliminary Doctoral Examination (0). (P/F grade only.)

PHY 8966r. Master’s Comprehensive Examination (0). (P/F grade only.)

PHY 8976r. Master’s Thesis Defense (0). (P/F grade only.)

PHY 8985r. Dissertation Defense (0). (P/F grade only.)

PHZ 5156C. Computational Physics Laboratory (3). Prerequisites: COP 2000; MAP 3305; PHY 4222 or instructor permission. An introduction to the use of computers to solve computationally intensive problems, including basic instruction in physics problem solving using numerical solutions to differential equations, numerical integration, Monte Carlo, partial differential equations, linear algebra, distributed processing and symbolic algebra. The course also provides instruction in computational techniques and software development skills and practice in using network and software development tools including telnet, ftp, spreadsheets, databases, code management systems, and the World Wide Web.

PHZ 5305. Nuclear Physics I (3). Corequisite: PHY 5670. Selected topics in nuclear structure and nuclear reactions.

PHZ 5307. Nuclear Physics II (3). Corequisite: PHY 5670. Selected topics in hadronic physics, experimental techniques and facilities, nuclear astrophysics, and the use of the nucleus as a laboratory.

PHZ 5315. Nuclear Astrophysics (3). Prerequisite: AST 5210. Corequisite: PHY 4604. This course offers an introduction to the role of nuclear reactions and decay in astrophysics. Topics cover the origin of elements in the context of Big Bang, major burning stages in the life of a star, stellar explosions, as well as processes in interstellar matter.

PHZ 5354. High-Energy Physics I (3). Corequisite: PHY 5670. Classification of elementary particles, particle detectors and accelerators, invariance principles and conservation laws, hadron-hadron interactions, static quark model of hadrons, electromagnetic interactions, the unification of electroweak and other interactions.

PHZ 5355. High-Energy Physics II (3). Corequisite: PHY 5670. Advanced topics in particle physics, perturbative techniques and applications, nonperturbative techniques and applications, standard model predictions, extensions of the standard model.

PHZ 5430. Physics of Materials (3). Prerequisite: PHZ 5491. An important part of the toolkit of a practicing condensed matter physicist is a knowledge of the historical experimental data base. This course presents part of this data base through a study of the corporate record of the Bell Laboratories, with supplemental material bringing the research record up to date.

PHZ 5475. Materials Characterization (3). This course is an introduction to a large variety of materials characterization techniques that have been developed and are currently used in materials science research.

PHZ 5491. Condensed Matter Physics I (3). Corequisite: PHY 5670. Crystal structure phonons, electron in metals, semiconductors, magnetism, ferroelectrics, liquid crystals.

PHZ 5492. Condensed Matter Physics II (3). Corequisite: PHY 5670. Elementary excitations in solids, the many-body problem, quantum fluids and superconductivity, magnetism, dielectric, collective effects in fluids.

PHZ 5606. Special and General Relativity (3). Prerequisites: PHY 5226, 5326. This course examines the following topics: special theory of relativity, tensor analysis and curvature, general theory of relativity, experimental tests, black holes, gravitational radiation, and cosmology.

PHZ 5715. Biophysics I (3). Physical bases of biological systems and biological processes, basic theories of thermodynamics and kinetics, key experimental techniques, simple physical models, realistic molecular modeling.

PHZ 5716. Biophysics II (3). Prerequisite: PHZ 5715. Selected topics in modern molecular biophysics, modeling and simulations of macromolecules, molecules as classical systems, molecular dynamics simulations, free energy calculations, molecular mechanics/quantum mechanics methods.


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