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Physics & Astronomy

Materials Simulation Group

What do we do?

What happens when titanium and molybdenum are mixed together? How does adding a little bit of yttrium affect a chunk of magnesium? Can we "cook" a mixture of aluminum and copper to improve its performance? Can platinum be alloyed or processed in a way that improves its strength? How can we take what we know about physics to make a new material?

In the Materials Simulation Group (MSG), we focus on two primary areas: 1) materials questions like those above, and 2) new algorithms, mathematics, and software to enable simulations of these questions. In our group, we perform "virtual" experiments---simulations on the computer. Students can be involved in a variety of ways. Most students will co-author a paper, most will get to travel to a large conference and present, some will travel internationally.

What do you have to know?

Students must be be motivated to learn and must dependably balance research time with classes, family responsibilities, etc. Funding is available for all students willing to commit to working at least 10 hours/week on average.

Few successful students had prior knowledge in solid state physics or had abilities such as programming and using Linux/Unix. Such things are nice but exerting the effort to learn makes all the difference.

Getting Started

Basic skills you'll pick up on the way:

  • Unix/Linux skills (you will use the command line a lot)
  • text editor (emacs, vi, etc.)
  • basic knowledge of crystal structure
  • computational physics
  • programming (python and C++ or Fortran)

If you want to see if you would enjoy working in our group,

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