M.Sc. Studies at the Department of Physics at Brock University
Program of Study
The Department of Physics offers a Graduate Program leading to the degree of Master
of Science with research facilities primarily in the field of Condensed Matter Physics.
Please note that we also offer a Ph.D. program.
Admission to the program requires a completed Honours BSc with at least a B grade average
or equivalent minimum undergraduate GPA of 2nd-class standing.
Candidates holding a pass degree without sufficient concentration in physics may,
with the consent of the department, enrol in a qualifying year similar to year 4 of
the honours program before formally applying for entry to the MSc program. Admission
may be on either a full-time or part-time basis.
Students from non-English speaking countries are required to demonstrate proficiency
in English via the TOEFL exam. Minimum acceptance score for admission is 550. The GRE
is recommended for international students but not required.
Application for entry into the program may be made at any time. Formal entry into the
MSc program occurs on January 1st, May 1st, or September 1st. Applicants must complete the online application form at
The Faculty of Graduate Studies website.
The $75 (Cdn) application fee should be sent to OUAC.
Each accepted student is awarded a teaching scholarship that requires grading undergraduate
student work and/or participation in
undergraduate teaching as a laboratory demonstrator or seminar leader. The teaching
scholarship is supplemented by funds from the research grant(s) of the supervisor. In total,
a minimum stipend of $14,000 per annum is provided for each of two full years of residency
for Canadian students and of not less than $16,000 for international students.
Tuition fees for Canadian citizens and landed immigrants are $4,757 per year for a two-year
program and $6956.80 per year for a two-year program for international students (2001-2002 rates).
Annual other fees range from $90-750.
The MSc program offered by the department currently focuses on training in condensed matter physics.
Recent research activities have been geared towards applied material science, involving the
study of amorphous and quasicrystalline alloys, high-Tc superconductors in the form
of single crystals as well as thin films, optical properties of semiconductor oxides, and nuclear
magnetic resonance (NMR) studies in model biological membranes.
Our objective is to train graduate students in the field of condensed matter physics and materials
science; to enable students not only to continue their studies in a PhD program but also to find
employment in industry and other institutions and organizations.
Collaboration with other scientists
Our faculty maintain ongoing collaboration with scientists in various universities and research
institutions in Canada and the US, as well as in the Czech Republic, Germany and Japan.
Why pursue a MSc degree?
By investing up to two years in further education, a student will gain extensive experience in
research, critical thinking and essential communication and technical skills. Hands-on use of our sophisticated
equipment provides excellent job training and will give you a significant advantage in the
higher-paying job market over those students who have only an undergraduate degree
(verified in recent surveys).
The Department of Physics is located in Brock University's Mackenzie Chown Science building
(completed in 1983) with research laboratories custom designed for each faculty member's
interest. Extensive computer facilities and library services are available for use by all
graduate students. The Science Faculty maintains a central technical services unit able to
design and construct specialized equipment. The staff includes professional machinists, a
glass blower and several electronics personnel including microcomputer specialists.
Physics Experimental Research Facilities consist of the following:
- Electronic/Thermal/Structural/Magnetic Studies
- Resistivity Measurement
- Temperature 0.4 K-300 K
- Magnetic Field 0-5.5 Tesla
- Pressure 0-12 kbar
- Magnetic Susceptibility Measurement (SQUID Magnetometer)
- Temperature 2 K-400 K
- Magnetic Field 0-5.5 Tesla
- Pressure 0-5 kbar
- Sound Velocity Measurement
- Temperature 2 K-300 K
- Magnetic Field 0-5.5 Tesla
- Pressure 0-12 kbar
- Specific Heat Measurement
- Optical Measurements
- Far-Infrared Measurement (Martin-Puplett Polarizing Interferometer)
- Mid-Infrared Measurement (Bomem Michelson Interferometer)
- Near-Infrared /Visible/UV (Grating Spectrometer)
- Raman Spectrometry
- NMR Spectroscopy (7 Tesla)
- Sample Preparation
- Thin Film Preparation
- Single Gun Sputtering
- Laser Ablation
- Single Crystal Preparation
- Flux Growth
- Verneuil Flame Fusion Apparatus
- Preparation of bulk alloys
- Melt Spinning Apparatus for Amorphous Ribbons
- Arc Furnace
- X-rays characterization
- Various cameras for X-ray diffraction room temperature
- Energy dispersive X-ray diffraction and fluorescence
Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics
Non-crystalline materials: electronic structure and transport properties of
liquid and amorphous metals, alloys and semi-conductors. Vibrational and
magnetic properties of amorphous materials. Theoretical studies of the
spectroscopy of solids, collision-induced absorption.
Superconductivity: localization and superconductivity, high Tc materials, the
superconducting glassy state. Transport in metals: transport properties of heavy
Unconventional superconductivity: magnetic superconductors, high-temperature superconductors.
Strongly correlated electron systems in one and two dimensions. Mesoscopic physics.
S.M. Rothstein (Dept. of Chemistry)
Quantum and/or computational chemical physics. Theory and applications of quantum
Monte Carlo to electronic structure problems involving transition metal systems.
Experimental Condensed Matter Physics
Investigation of the optical, transport and magnetic properties of highly
correlated materials including Mott-Hubbard insulators and metallic ferromagnetics.
Preparation of magnetic
and transport properties of thin films, ceramic and single crystals of high
Tc superconductors, CMR materials (manganites) and amorphous alloys,
utilizing measurement techniques such as SQUID magnetometer, high pressure,
specific heat and x-rays. Using the pulse-laser deposition technique to prepare
films and various methods to obtain ceramic samples.
Investigation of the optical properties of materials with low Tc
phase transitions (superconductors, heavy fermion, spin- and charge-density wave
compounds) via far-infrared reflectance spectroscopy and Raman scattering.
Structure and motion in
soft condensed matter. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy and relaxation
measurements in soft condensed matter systems. Collective motions in model
membranes, phase transitions in liquid crystals.
Doug Bruce (Dept.
of Biological Sciences)
The major research focus of our laboratory is related to the biophysics of
photosynthetic light conversion. The majority of photosynthetic pigments
(chlorophylls, phycobilins and carotenoids) perform a light-harvesting function,
absorbing light and transferring energy with very high efficiency to the reaction
centres where this energy is utilized. Photosynthetic organisms in natural
environments are challenged by exposure to changing light intensities and stress
conditions. The balance point between efficient light harvesting and potential
photodamage is fine and dependent upon changing environmental conditions and
metabolic demands. Most plants are unable to modify the environmental light levels
they are exposed to. As a result, they have developed numerous mechanisms that
allow them to fine tune the absorption, distribution and safe dissipation of the light
energy. These mechanisms involve a close interaction between light-harvesting pigments
and their protein environment. Our general goal is to understand the molecular
photophysical mechanisms of energy conversion in photosynthesis and the
regulation of these processes.
van der Est (Dept. of Chemistry)
Art van der Est's research focuses on using modern time-resolved electron spin
resonance (ESR) spectroscopy to study the structure and function of photosynthetic
reaction centres and porphyrin-based model systems. Current projects involve
manipulation of the quinone binding site in photosystem I from plants and
cyanobacteria. The work on porphyrin-based model systems is directed primarily
towards understanding the influence of paramagnetic transition metals such as
Cu2+ on energy transfer in systems of coupled chromophores.
A selection of the following courses, determined in part by student
interest, will be offered each year. Further information about the courses
to be offered in any year may be obtained from the chair of the
A research project involving the preparation and defence of a thesis which
will demonstrate a capacity for independent work. The research shall be
carried out under the supervision of a faculty member and the thesis
defended at an oral examination.
Quantum Chemistry: Theory
(also offered as CHEM 5P00)
Self-consistent-field (SCF) method: configuration interaction; basis
functions, electron correlation; physical properties of atoms, diatomic and polyatomic
Electromagnetic wave propagation in vacuum, dielectrics, conductors and
ionized gases; wave guide and transmission line propagation; dipole and
quadrupole radiation fields; relativistic transformation of the
electromagnetic fields; radiation by moving charges.
Advanced Statistical Physics
Statistical ensembles, mean field and Landau theory, critical phenomena
and the renormalization group; quantum fluids; superfluidity; linear
response theory; selected topics on disordered systems.
Advanced quantum mechanics I
Angular momenta, relativistic Schrodinger equation, Dirac equation,
positron theory and many electron problems.
Advanced quantum mechanics II
Symmetry, collision theory, Green's function, S-matrix, field
(also offered as BTEC 5P67, CHEM 5P67, BIOL 5P67)
An advanced seminar/lecture course on experimental techniques in biophysics. The focus is on understanding the theory, applications and limitations of a variety of techniques students will encounter during their graduate studies. Techniques will range from advanced spectroscopy (absorption, fluorescence, NMR, X-ray diffraction) to molecular biochemistry spectroscopy.
Advanced condensed matter physics
Topics to be selected.
Many body theory
Green's functions at zero and finite temperature; perturbation theory and
Feynman diagrams; linear response theory; electron-electron interaction;
electron-phonon interaction; electrons in disordered systems; Fermi liquid
theory; BCS theory of superconductivity.
Note: A strong background in quantum mechanics will be assumed.
Overview of basic experimental facts. Introduction to the BCS theory;
effects of disorder; symmetry of the order parameter; the
Ginzburg-Landau theory; magnetic properties of superconductors;
macroscopic phase coherence phenomena; quasuparticle excitations in
superconductors: thermal and optical properties. Unconventional
superconducting materials: HTSC, heavy fermions, organic superconductors.
Anharmonicity in crystals
General theories of anharmonicity and its effect on material properties,
perturbation theory techniques in anharmonic problems, Helmholtz free
energy, thermodynamic properties and neutron scattering in crystals.
Optical properties of solids
Measurement techniques; reflectivity, the dialectic function and the
optical conductivity; Lorentz-Drude oscillator model; Kramers-Kronig
transformations and sum rules; properties of metals, insulators and
Nuclear magnetic resonance
Density matrix formulation of NMR theory; spectroscopy of simple spin
systems and spin-dependent interactions; relaxation theory; spin
temperature; dipolar broadening in solids; NMR of soft condensed matter systems;
practical aspects of high-fidelity solid-state NMR; NMR spectrometer design; NMR
imaging and microscopy.
Note: A background in electronics is required. A strong background in
quantum mechanics will be assumed.
Graduate Seminar Course
Independent study and presentation of major research papers in the area of specialization. A list of up to five papers is assigned by the supervisory committee and the student presentations are both in written and seminar form. Each student is required to attend and participate in all seminars given by students registered in the course.
Students selecting this course must complete it in
the first or second semester of their graduate program.
A number of fourth-year courses carrying graduate credit are offered by
the department and can be selected with the permission of the supervisor
and the Chair.