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Materials Science and Theoretical Physics

  1. Apr 13, 2013 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I am a student in Engineering Physics and I'm currently at the point where we have to choose in which domain we want to specialize. The undergraduate program in Engineering Physics at my university is leaning much more towards the physics part than the engineering part, so we can basically consider that I'm following a normal, theoretical physics program, which means lots of atoms, photons, and waves.

    The thing is, none of the concentrations available really appeal to me (it's all about optics *sigh*), to the point that the only one remaining for me is about Materials Science. I've only followed one course so far about materials, so I don't really know what's out there for me if I chose this specialization.

    I was wondering if my heavy background in particle physics and optics could prove useful in the domain of Materials Science. Are there companies in particular that seek Materials Engineer with a strong background in atomic physics? Companies that deal with nanotechnologies for instance? I'm just worried that Materials Science and Theoretical Physics are two domain that are incompatible together, to the point that I won't appeal to companies at all.

    Basically, I would like to be able to use my knowledge of atomic structure and quantum physics to work on new materials and hopefully, make the world move forward. Like, use those two spheres of physics in your everyday job to create new materials. But I'm just worried that such a compromise is impossible and a proper Materials Engineer with his knowledge in metallurgy is just better suited.

    So yes, tl;dr version: is it possible to work on Materials in the industry while using your knowledge in Theoretical Physics in particular (say quantum physics, atomic structure, etc.)?

    Thank you in advance for your feedback!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2013 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Yes - in condensed matter physics and phase field theory.

    One example - http://van-der-waals.pc.uni-koeln.de/persons/rr/DPG-Dresden-09.pdf

    I was involved in a discussion yesterday concerning research on corrosion and material (alloy) behavior based on PFT.

    Another example - http://www.nada.kth.se/~szepessy/md_pde-1.pdf

    and another - http://www.brunel.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/279484/Granasy-aip_last-2012.pdf

    and - Nucleation of Lennard‐Jones fluids: A density functional approach
    http://jcp.aip.org/resource/1/jcpsa6/v105/i15/p6517_s1?isAuthorized=no [Broken]
    http://jcp.aip.org/resource/1/jcpsa6/v105/i15/p6517_s1?coden=JCPSA6&volume=105&issue=15&page=6517&seqno=1&view=citings [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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