1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physicist Looking to Move from Optics/Lasers/EM to Nuclear Physics

  1. Apr 9, 2013 #1
    I am about to graduate with a physics Ph.D. My University is very strong in optics, photonics and electromagnetism, and even basic quantum mechanics (for topics like entanglement and solid state physics) but rather weak in nuclear physics. Thing is, nuclear physics has always fascinated me and I would like to opportunity to study it professional. Unfortunately, post-doctoral nuclear physics programs understandably want physicist who already have strong nuclear physics background, stronger than anything my University could provide. Naturally, failing to undertake Nuclear Physics research professional precludes gaining professional experience in this field necessary to resolve this situation.

    Any good suggestions on how to resolve this little catch 22? Any way I can get into nuclear physics with a background in electromagnetism, optics, laser, and to a lesser extent, plasma and quantum mechanics?

    Nuclear fusion almost seems like my best bet, seeing as inertial confinement fusion obviously requires extensive use of lasers and optics while magnetic confinement fusion involves electromagnetism and plasma physics. However, these programs don't seem to be doing so well, and unless I am mistaken, MIT is having to shut down their fusion reactor due to lack of funding.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2013 #2
    If you are looking for an experimental physicist, position, there may be the need of someone with your background in some nuclear physics lab (accelerators labs and so on). You should try and ask around. Or the other possibility (even if you may not like it too much) could be to take another PhD, this time in Nuclear Physics, in some other University
  4. Apr 12, 2013 #3
    Well, my first question is why would you want to move into a field that has worse career prospects than your own (or at least I think it does, I'm pretty bearish on nuclear physics these days)?

    On the other hand, I would probably hire you if you were any good. And my group right now does have a postdoc with a background similar to yours. Much of the day-to-day work in experimental nuclear physics involves dealing with radiation detectors, analyzing data, and performing simulations. I think any reasonable experimentalist could get up to the speed with the former two items.

    In anycase, you can search the arxiv nucl-th/nucl-ex for 'plasma' 'laser' etc to see the type of research that overlaps with your background.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook