Chemical Physics

Chemical Physics: An Interdisciplinary Area of Scholarship, Research, and Employment

The Departments of Chemistry and Physics offer an interdepartmental major in Chemical Physics, an interdisciplinary field of study at the intersection of chemistry and physics. The major incorporates the core elements of the Chemistry and Physics degrees that relate to the structure and properties of atoms, molecules, and materials. It offers a richer foundation in physics than the standard Chemistry major and significantly more experience in experimental and theoretical chemistry than the usual Physics major.
Chemical physics is an interdisciplinary field at the crossroads of chemistry and physics that applies the quantitative methods usually associated with physics to systems of chemical interest. While these systems range in size and complexity, from atomic nuclei to biological molecules and nano-materials, the unifying theme of chemical physics is the development of a quantitative understanding of a system’s structural and dynamical properties. Core elements of both chemistry and physics inform experimental, theoretical, and modeling work in the discipline. The interdisciplinary nature of Chemical Physics makes it appropriate that this major should not reside in just one department.
By the time they graduate, Chemical Physics majors will:
  • Develop solid foundations in, and reliable facility with, the principles of chemistry and physics. Recognize the physical situations each field is suited to address, and the interconnections between the two fields.
  • Develop the ability to integrate concepts and techniques from chemistry and physics in the context of interdisciplinary problems associated with systems ranging from atomic nuclei to biological molecules.
  • Develop strong quantitative skills and facility with the mathematical and computational techniques at the center of modern science. Learn to apply those skills in problem-solving contexts in chemistry and physics.
  • Gain experience with laboratory practices throughout the curriculum with an emphasis on applying the scientific method, learning the skills of thoughtful experimental design, and exploring independent experimentation.
  • Work effectively in diverse groups to solve scientific problems.
  • Gain proficiency in scientific communication skills.
  • Be prepared for postgraduate study and/or public/private sector employment in fields informed by the principles and methods of chemistry and physics.