Brock launches PhD program in physics

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Brock launches PhD program in physics

Published on June 02 2011

Building upon its reputation for pioneering scientific research in superconductivity and neutron scattering, Brock University will launch a new PhD program in Physics this fall.

Brock researchers’ expertise in high-temperature superconductivity is one of the major attractions for prospective graduate students in this field.

Superconductivity is a way of conducting electricity with zero losses and has the potential to revolutionize power distribution. It requires materials to be cooled to very low temperatures — below about -250°C. The dream for physicists in this field is to create superconductors at more accessible temperatures.

In 1986, Brock professors Fereidoon Razavi, Frans Koffyberg and Bozidar Mitrovic were the first researchers in Canada and second in the world to confirm the existence of a new ceramic material that became a superconductor at a record-high temperature. This discovery launched an entire new field of condensed-matter research.

“It was a legendary discovery for the university,” says Edward Sternin, Chair of the Department of Physics at Brock. “Research like this is at the ultimate frontier of science, and confirms the high calibre of our faculty working in this and other areas. We’re pleased to be able to continue to train the next generation of highly-knowledgeable and skilled graduates in these fields.”

The new program — the seventh PhD program at Brock — is now accepting applications for September. Students have the option of pursuing one of three fields: theoretical physics, experimental condensed-matter physics and materials science, and biophysics.

Neutron scattering, a scientific tool that has far-reaching implications for Canada’s industrial and scientific competitiveness, is another highlight of the program.

Associate Professor Thad Harroun is a leading expert in neutron scattering. One of the first students to be accepted into the PhD program will work directly under his supervision in biophysics — the science of life as measured or probed by beams of neutrons.

Harroun is recognized around the world for his work in this area and is involved in the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering, an organization of academic and industry researchers. Brock has strong connections to the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River and students regularly travel to the facility to conduct experiments.

“This is a great example of Brock tailoring its offerings to meet the needs and research interests of our students,” says Marilyn Rose, Dean of Graduate Studies. “We received many requests about PhD-level studies here at Brock, given our institution’s reputation for leading-edge research in this scientific field. And we’re pleased to be able to provide them with the opportunity to work alongside our world-class researchers.”