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Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth Street, Troy, New York 12180-3590

Telephone: (518) 276-6310
Fax: (518) 276-6680
E-mail: physics@rpi.edu

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Rensselaer’s department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy prepares undergraduate students to contribute to new concepts and technologies through innovative teaching methods that combine student-faculty interactions, computer-based education, and “hands-on” experience in modern laboratories.

Our graduate programs lead to the M.S. and the Ph.D. in physics. These degrees are available in several research areas.

For graduate students specializing in Astronomy and Astrophysics, the M.S. degree is available either in astronomy or physics with specialization in astrophysics.

The department conducts both fundamental and applied research, often in collaboration with researchers from other Rensselaer departments, other universities, industry, or the National Laboratories.

As an important part of their education, graduate students collaborate with faculty members to make original research contributions in their area of specialization.

Department News
Kodosky Constellation Collaboration Publishes Joint Paper

The Kodosky Constellation, led by Shengbai Zhang, also professor of physics, recently had a paper accepted for publication by the Physical Review Letters. Set to be published in August 2014, the paper examines the Carbon Kagome lattice and orbital frustration-induced metal-insulator transition for optoelectronics. "This research describes a theoretical study with ramifications for basic and applied physics and a proposal for creating a new class of materials with fascinating properties using only element carbon that is abundant, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. On the basic side, frustration in magnetism is an extremely popular field with questions that remain unanswered, and in this work we showed that frustration of electronic orbital states can be just as rich a field of study," Zhang stated. Co-collaborators include Vincent Meunier, Kodosky Career Development Constellation Professor and associate professor of physics, and Yiyang Sun, research assistant professor of physics.

Endowed by Gail Theilmann Kodosky and Institute Trustee Jeffrey Kodosky '70, the Kodosky Constellation focuses on energy conversion, future electronics, nano sciences, and a broad range of other cutting-edge areas of inquiry, including cyber-based physics and science discovery.

Recently Developed Nanomaterial May Be Suitable for Use in Desalination

Research results in computational modeling indicate that a newly developed nanomaterial may be suitable for applications in water desalination and other purification. The research was conducted by Vincent Meunier, the Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky '70 Constellation Professor of Physics, Information Technology, and Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in cooperation with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Meunier and Oak Ridge researcher Bobby Sumpter used supercomputer simulations to explore the potential of a hybrid material called graphene oxide frameworks (GOFs), first introduced in 2010. GOFs are sheets of oxidized graphene, connected by chemical links at some of the oxidation sites. The material does not decompose in water, and has other mechanical properties that make it a good candidate for many applications.

The researchers investigated the material for its potential use as a desalination membrane. Reverse osmosis systems, which make up approximately 40 percent of the world's desalination capacity, generate fresh water by applying pressure to force saltwater through a semi-permeable membrane.

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Nanostructures Expert Humberto Terrones Joins Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as Rayleigh Chair

Humberto Terrones, an expert in nanostructures, has been appointed as the Rayleigh Chair for Theoretical Physics and a tenured full professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Terrones joins Rensselaer from Pennsylvania State University.

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