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Physics or physical chemistry

  1. Dec 25, 2015 #1
    I'm currently in my first year of a MSc in physical chemistry and in the process of deciding what topic to choose for my thesis (most likely starting around april). I think my personal interests lie more on the side of physics than chemistry (I have only become sure of it this year). My background includes organic and inorganic chemistry, atomic and molecular physics including analytical techniques, (statistical) thermodynamics, some quantum mechanics as well as computational modelling. I have talked to my supervisor and he tells me that doing a PhD in physics with my background is definitely possible if I focus my thesis and internship (both are part of my MSc and together take up 1 year) on that direction. I would be specifically interested in quantum materials/atomic-molecular and experimental condensed matter physics.
    Now, for my thesis topic I am inclined to work on quite a fundamental topic: glass transition physics - both theory/modelling and experimental, and for my internship my supervisor has assured me he can get me a position in the physics lab of a quite prominent university in the US. However, I still have time to choose a more physical-chemical subject if I want to, nothing is decided yet. The concern is quite a common one - whether following my personal interests will enable me to get a job later (i hear experimental condensed matter physics is currently well funded) and if choosing a more fundamental subject will close some doors for me jobwise (e.g. commercial work on a chemistry topic that I didn't focus on during my thesis/internship but for which I have the background). Thanks for answering, L.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2015 #2


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    I would choose physics since it gives you more flexibility in general. When I was in undergrad I did research on the far physics side of a theoretical physical chemistry group. The PI had actually gotten his phd in physics and chemistry with a physics PI and a lot of the postdocs had done their PhD in physics. I also know several students in my grad program working with chemistry professors. A lot of physics grad programs really encourage interdisciplinary research so you can work with professors in a lot of different departments.
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