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Programs Help clear up my confusion regarding AMO and NANO Majors

  1. Aug 7, 2017 #1
    I have a decent understanding of Nano and AMO physics, however when I started looking at colleges(applications started recently). I found out that the nano major is an interdisciplinary major or a specialization under either applied physics or electrical engineering.

    AMO is in some places its own major(molecular engineering vs nano), but commonly its a specialization under the physics department. So can some one clear up the confusion as I am lost, not knowing what major to apply for.

    I hopefully plan to do aerospace and specialization in nano or do an applied physics major or even a double major. Might even do something random like molecular engineering in the medical field.

    So my question is what are the differences between AMO and NANO and what is a recommend path of study for NANO/AMO

    btw thanks for the help
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2017 #2


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    Not sure if this helps you or not: but AMO Physics seems to follow the meaning of Physical Chemistry or Chemical Physics, maybe to include Optics and Spectroscopy. (Quickly done google search)
  4. Aug 8, 2017 #3
    At the institutions with which I am familiar, AMO physics is very different from NANO.
  5. Aug 8, 2017 #4
    If this were true, you wouldn't be confounding the two. Just to be sure that I'm interpreting your use of these acronyms correctly,

    AMO physics = Atomic, Molecular, and Optical physics

    Nano = Nanotechnology

    Is that consistent with your usage?
  6. Aug 8, 2017 #5
  7. Aug 8, 2017 #6
    I get that are different, but my main question is why are they under interdisciplinary majors in some colleges and whats a recommended path of study for either.
  8. Aug 9, 2017 #7
    To OP: You're not using terms of equal hierarchy.

    AMO physics by definition is a specific field of physics. The scope of any field, of course, is somewhat arbitrary; but here's how the American Physical Society uses the term:


    "The Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP) was founded in 1943, and was the first division of the American Physical Society. Its central focus is fundamental research on atoms, simple molecules, electrons and light, and their interactions. It plays an enabling role underlying many areas of science through the development of methods for the control and manipulation of atoms, molecules, charged particles and light, through precision measurements and calculations of their properties, and through the invention of new ways to generate light with specific properties. Students who graduate with a background in AMO physics acquire a broad range of knowledge and skills that enable them to contribute to many areas of science and technology."

    Fields other than physics (e.g., chemistry, biology, electrical engineering, optical engineering ...) are, of course, concerned with various other aspects of atoms, molecules, and optics than that falling under the scope of AMO physics (though there may be some overlap).

    Nanotechnology is an umbrella term covering aspects of structures and systems characterized by a particular size range. Again, the scope is somewhat arbitrary. According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative:


    "Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers."

    Therefore, nanotechnology is inherently interdisciplinary since it involves all aspects of such structures and systems. You need to further delimit what your interests are under the nanotechnology umbrella.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  9. Aug 9, 2017 #8
    I kno
    Thanks for the info
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