M.Sc. Studies at the Department of Physics at Brock University

[Brock M.Sc. in Physics is for you!]

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.
Financial support
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
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.

Research activities
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).
Research facilities
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
  • Temperature 2 K-300 K
Optical Measurements
Far-Infrared Measurement (Martin-Puplett Polarizing Interferometer)
  • Temperature 0.5 K-100 K
Mid-Infrared Measurement (Bomem Michelson Interferometer)
  • Temperature 10 K-300 K
Near-Infrared /Visible/UV (Grating Spectrometer)
  • Temperature 300 K
Raman Spectrometry
  • Temperature 300 K
NMR Spectroscopy (7 Tesla)
Sample Preparation
Thin Film Preparation
  • Evaporation
  • Single Gun Sputtering
  • Laser Ablation
Single Crystal Preparation
  • Flux Growth
  • RF
  • 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
Research Specialties
Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics
S.K. Bose
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.

B. Mitrovic
Superconductivity: localization and superconductivity, high Tc materials, the superconducting glassy state. Transport in metals: transport properties of heavy fermion systems.

K. Samokhin
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
D.A. Crandles
Investigation of the optical, transport and magnetic properties of highly correlated materials including Mott-Hubbard insulators and metallic ferromagnetics.

F.S. Razavi
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.

M. Reedyk
Optical properties. 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.

E. Sternin
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.

Art 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 department.

PHYS 5F90 MSc thesis
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.

PHYS 5P00 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 molecules.

PHYS 5P30 Advanced Electromagnetism
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.

PHYS 5P41 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.

PHYS 5P50 Advanced quantum mechanics I
Angular momenta, relativistic Schrodinger equation, Dirac equation, positron theory and many electron problems.

PHYS 5P51 Advanced quantum mechanics II
Symmetry, collision theory, Green's function, S-matrix, field quantization.

PHYS 5P67 Biophysical Techniques
(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.

PHYS 5P70 Advanced condensed matter physics
Topics to be selected.

PHYS 5P72 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.

PHYS 5P73 Superconductivity
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.

PHYS 5P74 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.

PHYS 5P75 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 superconductors.

PHYS 5P76 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.

PHYS 5P91 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.

Undergraduate Courses
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.