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Master of Science in Physics

Vibrating sample magnetometer, © Michel Brumat / Université du Luxembourg

At the vibrating sample magnetometer

Small teaching groups are organised to let you tackle theory and practice with academics who are recognised as high-quality researchers by their international peers.

Modern research facilities and equipment are at hand for studying physics in its full scope—from  soft matter to solid-state.

 

Theory and practice

Semesters 1 & 2

The first two semesters include lectures, homework exercises, theoretical classes and experimental lab work, plus a seminar.

  • Lectures take place in small groups. We foster an atmosphere that promotes discussion and involvement. You are invited to participate!
  • Homework exercises are given each week for major lectures. They are then discussed together in a special exercise course.
  • Lab work is preparing you for the research work of your master’s thesis. Most lab experiments are carried out in the research laboratories of the experimental and theoretical groups of the Physics and Materials Science Research Unit (PHYMS).
  • The seminar is a presentation you must prepare. It will focus on a modern research topic you will choose when exploring scientific literature on your own. We will be backing you up so you can find the material you need.

Semesters 3 & 4

The preparatory lab class and the master’s thesis are based on research you will be doing on a current topic in one of the research groups of the Physics and Materials Science Research Unit (PHYMS). They are usually done in the same research group and cover the same research topic.

You will also be asked to present your research in a seminar at the end of the third semester and defend your master thesis at the end of the fourth semester.

 

Working with professionals

You will be involved in current research activities from the very beginning of your studies. Hands-on lab activities will immediately introduce you to live research and give you a hint at how it is run at the University’s Physics and Materials Science Research Unit (PHYMS).

You will be taught goal-oriented science by experienced researchers who are able to pass on well-structured working habits, particularly on how to conduct research, present your work and defend your scientific results.

You will be doing experiments using state-of-the-art equipment available in the laboratories of the various research groups:

  • Nanomagnetism
    The NanoMagnetism Group carries out fundamental research in the field of magnetism and magnetic materials. One of the main experimental methods that we employ for microstructure determination is neutron scattering, so that most of our experiments are conducted worldwide at large-scale facilities such as the Institut Laue-Langevin, France, or the Bragg Institute, Australia.
  • Polymer physics
    Research at the Laboratoy of Polymer Materials (LPM) is focused on the physics of heterogeneities in polymers. We mainly study so-called interphases which occur at the interfaces between polymers and other materials. Our studies are done at macroscopic and microscopic level. A further area of investigation are self-organization phenomena in stimuli-responsive polymers.
  • Experimental soft matter physics
    We do experimental research on various types of soft matter, primarily liquid crystals, colloids and polymers. Our interests span from phenomena that are intriguing from a fundamental physics point of view to materials and processes that have strong potential for future technologies. Our activities have a strongly interdisciplinary character, involving e.g. artists, designers or robotics engineers.
  • Theoretical Chemical Physics
    We develop advanced quantum-mechanical first-principles methods and apply them to achieve increasingly reliable description of complex molecules and materials.
  • Complex systems and statistical mechanics
    Our goal is to further develop a newly discovered theory, called stochastic thermodynamics, which helps to understand the characteristic features of energy-flow in nanodevices as those a different from energy-flows at a macrolevel.
  • Theoretical solid state physics
    We investigate semiconducting and nanostructured materials that have potential use in light-harvesting and light-emitting devices as well as in nano-electronics. To understand the macroscopic properties (color, hardness, electrical and thermal conductivity) of those materials and design novel functional materials, we need to understand the atomic and electronic structure.
  • Theory of mesoscopic systems
    Mesoscopic systems, because of their small sizes, partly obey the rules of classical physics and partly those of quantum mechanics. Our group is interested in those quantum mechanical effects, which often lead to significant changes of the physical properties of mesoscopic systems and make them interesting for many novel applications.
  • Energy materials
    The Laboratory for Energy Materials (LEM) is interested in making and testing complex materials necessary for energy conversion and storage using low cost and innovative methods. Currently our research focusses on the preparation and characterization of semiconductor absorber layers for use in thin film solar cells.
  • Photovoltaics
    The Laboratory for Photovoltaics (LPV) focusses on two issues: The development of new structures and processes for the preparation of thin film solar cells and the fundamental materials physics of novel semiconductors used as absorbers in these devices, especially chalcopyrites and related materials.

 

Equipment

Here are some of the techniques used for the experimental and theoretical lab work:

 

Vibrating sample magnetometer

Vibrating sample magnetometer for measuring magnetic properties at temperatures between 2-325 Kelvin and for magnetic fields up to 14 Tesla. © Michel Brumat / Université du Luxembourg

 

Rheology

Rheology is the science of deformation and flow. Measuring the flow behaviour of complex liquids such as polymers by rheological experiments yields insights into physical structures and dynamics on a molecular scale. Rheometry is also applied to study the macroscopic deformation behaviour of solids. © Michel Brumat / Université du Luxembourg

 

AB13-Cluster of binary colloids

AB13-Cluster of binary colloids. This new structure was observed in experiments at the Institute for New Materials in Saarbrücken and confirmed by simulations in the Theory of Soft Matter Group in Luxembourg. © Université du Luxembourg

 

Part of the photoluminescence set-up

Part of the photoluminescence set-up at LPV, with postdoc Levent Gütay busy aligning the optical system. © Université du Luxembourg

 

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

With a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) it is possible to image a surface down to the nanoscale, revealing details hidden to the human eye and even to optical microscopes. This has opened for a deeper understanding of Nature’s structures, and it has also made it possible to scrutinize the quality and characteristics of artificially produced samples with an accuracy that can be difficult to grasp. Moreover, by coupling the SEM with x-ray analysis, the surface topographical information is complemented with information about the elements in the surface and their spatial distribution. This allows us to reveal heterogeneity that is purely chemical, even in a perfectly flat surface. © Université du Luxembourg

 

Apparatus to form thin films of copper

Apparatus to form thin films of copper which are subsequently used to make semiconductors for photovoltaic applications. © Luc Deflorenne / Université du Luxembourg