DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS

What did our department look like during construction?  under construction

Teaching Facilities  

Our main lecture hall seats 75 even though our class sizes never get above 42 for the introductory sequence. Our modern physics and advanced classes, such as quantum mechanics and electromagnetism, usually have 8 or fewer students. The large lecture room has an overhead projector; slide projector; DVD player; CD player; and laserdisc player, Windows computer (2.2 GHz/512 MB RAM/100 MB Zip) with internet access, external computer connection with internet access for laptops, and document camera all connected to an LCD projector. Our small classroom seats 24 and is similarly equipped.

A student's first impression of the Davidson College physics laboratories may very well be the presence of a computer at every laboratory station. 

There are 8 Pentium 4 (1.4 GHz) PCs in each introductory physics lab and another 10 Pentium 4 (2.2 GHz)  computers in our new  lab dedicated to our courses for non-science majors. These computers are used not only for traditional programming but also for data collection and analysis and multimedia learning, starting with the introductory-level physics courses. See below for further information regarding the computers in our department. 

Research Facilities 

The Davidson College physics department has concentrated its experimental effort on two of the most active and exciting areas in current research: solid state and laser spectroscopy. Our advanced laboratories have received over one-quarter million dollars in new equipment over the last five years, and we now have some of the best equipment in the country for undergraduate research participation. 

Our two Nd/YAG dye laser systems are each capable of producing very short (10-8 sec) light pulses with a peak power of 10 million watts! A 1.33m McPherson spectrometer is equipped with a cooled photomultiplier tube and image intensified photodiode array. The 1 GHz digital storage scope is an impressive tool for data taking and analysis. 

Our three new faculty members are establishing research programs to study the laser spectroscopy of negative ions and Rydberg atoms, the laser spectroscopy of semiconductors with applications to opto-electronic devices, and theoretical physics with interests in computational methods in quantum mechanics, particle physics, and quantum field theories (QCD). We also have ultrasonic facilities to measure elastic properties of solids, capacitance bridges to measure ionic conductivity in solids, and spectrometers to measure optical properties of solids. 

Although you may not know what these pieces of equipment are now, you can be assured that student hands-on experience is valued very highly at Davidson. Our equipment is not locked away and accessible only to faculty, but is a useful and used component of a Davidson undergraduate education.

 

Computing Facilities

A departmental workstation cluster gives students access to the latest visualization, graphics, and symbolic computation tools. Internet connections give them login capabilities at facilities throughout the world. An undergraduate physics major with an interest in computers might also consider the computer science concentration or the  applied math concentration. These tracks provide excellent opportunities for entrance into engineering or computer science graduate school while giving students a broad science and liberal arts background.

 

The Physics Department sponsors the Physics Computation Center, PCC. This center is used by physics majors and majors from other departments for senior projects and other research opportunities. The Center reflects the convergence of scientific computing technologies toward visual and object-oriented programming paradigms.

The PCC is equipped with high-end workstations in individualized carrels designed for independent study and advanced work. Mathematica symbolic algebra, PSpice circuit simulators, and Java programming tools are all here for the interested student.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Dr. Wolfgang Christian, Chair, Department of Physics, Davidson College, P. O. Box 7133, Davidson, NC 28035-7133 or call (704) 894-2322 or e-mail: wochristian@davidson.edu. If you would like to tour our facilities, including our labs, classrooms, etc., please contact Dr. Christian and schedule an appointment. We would welcome your visit at any time.


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