Physics & Astronomy
Watch our Hands-On video and step into an observatory to learn all about telescopes and the night sky.
The relationships you build here through mentored teaching and unsurpassed undergrad research are valuable resources that will be helpful throughout your life. At BYU, you’ll approach science in a way that is both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging. You’ll address real scientific questions in the light of the Gospel.
–Dr. Kent Gee
Teaching Physical Science
Dr. Peter Roming, a research scientist at Penn State said, “BYU Physics and Astronomy students are undeniably some of the best prepared and most highly demanded graduates available.” This is largely because of the research opportunities available to our students, both as undergraduates and graduates. All students have the opportunity to learn from our 32-member faculty by participating in faculty-directed research programs. These programs are enhanced by outstanding facilities and instrumentation, including several anechoic and reverberation chambers, transmission electronic and atomic force microscopes, an X-ray diffractometer, and a new 0.9-m telescope at the West Mountain Observatory.
–Zephne Larsen, physics student
Students study the production, control, transmission, reception, and effects of sound. Acoustics contributes to the study of musical instruments, architectural spaces, noise control, ultrasound medical imaging, and seismology.
Students study of celestial objects such as starts, planets, comets, and galaxies. This discipline includes researching any phenomena that originate outside the earth’s atmosphere including formation, development, and motion of celestial objects.
• Atomic, Molecular, & Optical
Students research light and matter interactions on an atomic and molecular level. All three areas, atomic, molecular, and optical, use similar methods and energy scales ad include both classical and quantum treatments.
• Condensed Matter
Students study of condensed phases of matter, namely, solids and liquids. This field has a large overlap with chemistry, and nanotechnology, and is closely related to atomic physics and biophysics.
Students research any material in which a sufficient density of free charges exists. Examples of matter in a plasma state include electrons in a metal and the gas in a fluorescent light bulb. It is involved in basic physics research, industrial plasma processing, controlled fusion experiments, and astrophysical plasma research.
• Theoretical & Mathematical
Students use analytic and numerical techniques to study fundamental problems in physics. This research is involved in discovering deeper structures and insights to natural processes by using mathematical reasoning and computation.
People come from all over to use BYU’s facilities and equipment. Some resources specific to the Physics & Astronomy Department include:
• Anechoic Chambers
Large, echoless rooms used for studying the production and propagation of sound.
• Atomic and Magnetic Force Microscopes
Delicate instruments for studying microscopic electronic and magnetic properties of atoms in solids.
• Clean Room
A facility for growing and studying physical structures on the nanometer scale.
• Laser Laboratories
Houses various high power and short pulse lasers for studying atoms and electromagnetic radiation.
• Monochromator and Ellipsometer
Devices that allow measurements to be made of the way in which light interacts with matter, especially reflecting surfaces.
• Non-neutral Plasma Laboratory
Contains electromagnetic traps for confining and studying collections of charged particles.
• Royden G. Derrick Planetarium
Complete with full-dome graphics, the planetarium is used for teaching classes as well as for public shows.
• West Mountain Observatory
Located near Utah Lake, this facility houses 3 computer controlled telescopes and instrumentation used to view celestial objects and events.
Physics touches many career categories. With an undergraduate degree in physics & astronomy, many job possibilities are open including:
• Aerospace Engineer
• High School Teacher
• Medical Technologist
• National Security Analyst
• Nuclear Engineer
• Product Development
Many of our students go on to get advanced degrees and additional experience that broaden their career opportunities. BYU Physics & Astronomy alumni have found jobs in a variety of positions including working at:
• BYU Hawaii
• MSI Photogenics
• Pacific Northwest National Lab
• Penn State University
• Starkey Laboratories
Beetles Hold Clues to Faster Computers
See a Brazilian beetle that holds secrets to faster computing in its scales.
BYU Students Make News at Zero Gravity
Get a taste of outer space with BYU students on NASA’s Vomit Comet.
Extreme Acoustics: BYU Research Illustrates the Power of Sound
Watch as sound waves defy gravity and shatter glass.