Physics

Physics at Northeastern invites you to join an exciting journey to explore, discover, and apply the fundamental principles that run the universe. Take a front-row seat as you visualize everything from the collisions of sub-atomic particles to the dance of the galaxies.

Explore Our Options for Undergraduate Students

Physics

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Northeastern co-op fulfills childhood dream by working at NASA
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Everything (In Theory)

Why can’t light escape a black hole? What exactly is dark matter? Why is the gravitational force so weak? In physics, we know everything is bound by the same rules and happens for a reason. It’s the “why” of every action and reaction that keeps us curious.

The College of Science physics program equips you with what we know about our universe — theories on matter, the forces, space, and time — so you can reach into the unknown and answer the question… why?

Diversity & Inclusion

The College of Science supports a culture where each person feels they belong, regardless of race, color, religion, religious creed, genetic information, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, veteran or disability status. We celebrate the diversity of our community, and we seek to expand representation to further excellence. We commit to be a College where members act with respect, trust, collaboration, and communication, and where inappropriate behavior is reported and acted on without fear of retaliation.

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Northeastern’s Physics Program

Northeastern’s Physics Program

Faculty Research Areas

Astrophysics and Cosmology

collage of 4 images showing physics balloon, spaceships and lab tanksThe Astrophysics and Cosmology group at Northeastern University is leading cutting-edge research into the nature of the universe, including dark energy, large-scale structure, galaxy clusters, black holes across all mass scale and neutron stars, dark matter searches, and MeV gamma-ray observations. Prof. Blazek’s group probes the cosmological model using analytic methods, simulations, and maps made with the largest galaxy surveys (DES and LSST). Prof. McCleary’s group conducts balloon- and ground-based observations of gravitational lensing by galaxy clusters to understand their dark matter and astrophysics (SuperBIT and LoVoCCS). Prof. Aramaki’s group develops and utilizes sensitive detectors in underground and outer space (balloon/satellite) for dark matter searches and astrophysical observations (SuperCDMS, GAPS, and GRAMS). Prof. Lin’s group utilizes ground- and space-based observatories to carry out multi-messenger study of high-energy transient signals such as tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes and gravitational wave events (Chandra, XMM-Newton, and HST).

 

 

Members: 

Tsugo Aramaki | Dark matter searches, gamma-ray observations | Website

Jonathan Blazek | Cosmology and galaxy surveys | Website 

Dacheng Lin | Time-domain high-energy astrophysics | Website 

Jacqueline McCleary | Galaxy clusters and weak gravitational lensing 

Experimental Biological Physics

The experimental biophysics group at Northeastern Physics develops and applies experimental techniques to study biological entities at various scales from biomolecules to cells to organisms: Single-molecule studies range from DNA structure and dynamics to RNA/protein unfolding to biopolymer sequencing; cell-level research interrogates the response of cancer cells to light; organism-level research focuses on the physics and connectivity of the brain.

 

 

 

 

 

Members:

Paul Champion | Quantum biology, proton tunneling, ultrafast protein dynamics and coherence| Website 

Bryan Spring | Cancer photomedicine, biophysical microscopy, laser microsurgery | Website

Srinivas (Sri) Sridhar | Quantitative MRI, Drug Delivery, Neurovisual Science| Website

Paul Stevenson | Quantum sensing, nanoscale biophysics, membrane dynamics | Website

Vivek Venkatachalam | Physics of brains and behavior| Website

Meni Wanunu | Nanoscale biophysics, nanopores, optics | Website

Mark Williams | Single-molecule nucleic acid interactions, retroviral replication, chromatin dynamics | Website

Experimental Nanophysics

Research in nanophysics and novel materials are emphasized. Faculty are involved in several research fields at the frontiers of these areas: spintronics, topological materials, superconductors, semiconductors, ferromagnets, mesoscopic physics, left-handed metamaterials, quantum chaos, nanotechnology and nanoparticle synthesis.

 

 

 

 

Members: 

Don Heiman | Topological Materials, MBE Films, AFM Spintronics | Website 

Nathan Israeloff | Polymer glass aging, non-equilibrium measurements, fluctuation–dissipation 

Swastik Kar | Graphene, 2D Boron Nitride, h-BCN, Carbon Nanotubes, Topological Insulators | Website 

Sergey Kravchenko | Metal-insulator transition, Wigner crystallization, Flat-band materials 

Latika Menon | TiO2 nanotubes, Carbon nanotubes, GaN nanowires  

Srinivas (Sri) Sridhar | Quantitative MRI, Drug Delivery, Neurovisual Science| Website 

Paul Stevenson | Quantum sensors, quantum communication, nanoscale biophysics| Website 

Meni Wanunu | Nanoscale biophysics, nanopores, optics | Website 

Experimental Particle Physics

Experimental particle physics research involves exploring unknown questions about nature on the smallest scales: What constitutes dark matter? Why is the Higgs boson so light? What produced the imbalance between matter and antimatter that we observe today? Are there extra dimensions? Are there new particles or fundamental interactions that are yet to be discovered? Our group in experimental particle physics works on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. We study precision measurements of Standard Model processes and search for signatures of new physics, such as leptoquarks, dark matter candidates, and exotic production and decays of Higgs bosons. In parallel we have a broad involvement in the operation of the CMS detector and development of new detector systems for the High Luminosity LHC upgrade.

 

 

 

Members: 

Emanuela Barberis | CMS experiment

Toyoko Orimoto | CMS experiment

Louise Skinnari | CMS experiment

Darien Wood | CMS experiment

Network Science

Members of this group are also members of the interdisciplinary Network Science Institute. They seek to discover and inspire fundamentally new ways to measure, model, predict, and visualize meaningful interactions and interconnectivity of social, physical, and technological systems.

 

 

 

 

 

Members:

Albert-László Barabási | biological networks, science of success, applications of control theory to networks, development of network models of resiliency in systems | Website

Dima Krioukov | latent network geometry, maximum-entropy random graph ensembles and random geometric graphs, causal sets, navigation in networks, and fundamentals of network dynamics | Website

Mauricio Santillana | modeling of geographic patterns of population growth, modeling fluid flow to inform coastal floods simulations and atmospheric global pollution transport models, design and implementation of disease outbreak prediction platforms, mathematical solutions to healthcare

Alessandro Vespignani | Contagion models and adaptive behavior, epidemics in structured populations, resilience of coevolving and interdependent networks, conversations in online social networks, global epidemic and mobility model, mapping world languages through microblogging platforms | Website

Theoretical Biological Physics

Group members apply theoretical and computational tools of statistical and nonlinear physics to understand fundamental aspects of the behavior of living systems across molecular to organ scales in health and diseases. Ongoing studies probe the energetics and dynamics of large-scale biological assemblies, physical genetics, mechanical properties of cellular assemblies and biomaterials, cancer metastasis and immune system dynamics, cardiac nonlinear dynamics, and synaptic connectivity and brain function. Synergy between those different areas is fostered by the collaborative environment of the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (website).   

 

 

 

Members: 

Max Bi  | Mechanics of cellular assemblies | Website

Michele Di Pierro| Physical genetics| Website

Alain Karma | Cardiac nonlinear dynamics | Website

Herbie Levine | Cancer and immune system dynamics | Website

Armen Stepanyants | Neurogeometry and brain function | Website

Paul Whitford | Computational molecular biophysics | Website

Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics

Group members apply theoretical and computational tools to study the quantum properties of condensed matter (solid state) systems.  A major focus within the group is understanding novel and unusual phases of matter, as well as non-equilibrium aspects of materials. Ongoing studies explore the topology of quantum degrees of freedom (e.g., electrons, magnons, and phonons), quantum magnetism (e.g., quantum spin liquids), unconventional superconductivity (e.g., high-temperature superconductors and topological superconductivity), and other highly entangled states of matter with relevance to quantum information sciences.  We work in a highly collaborative environment and often publish jointly with experimental groups.  Synergy between different areas is fostered by the Quantum Materials and Sensing Institute at Northeastern University.

 

 

 

 

Members: 

Arun Bansil | First principles studies oftopological materials and optical spectroscopy

Adrian Feiguin | Computational modeling of time-resolved spectroscopies and non-equilibrium phenomena | Website

Gregory Fiete | Topology, magnetism, and quantum materials out-of-equilibrium | Website

Alain Karma | Pattern formation and nonequilibrium phenomena in materials

Yizhi You | Quantum Fields and Entangled Qubits in Correlated Systems | Website

Theoretical High Energy Physics

photo of blackboard with physics numbers

Members of our group apply techniques from Mathematics and AI to study particle physics, cosmology, and string theory, often with overlap between the subjects. In particle physics, research is focused on Physics beyond the standard model, including understanding the role supersymmetry and supergravity. In Cosmology, questions include understanding the physics directly following the initial singularity, known as inflation, the origin of dark energy, the main form of energy in our Universe that causes it to expand at an accelerated rate, and the nature of dark matter, which is some matter of unknown origin that plays a crucial role in the formation of galaxies. Finally, the study of string theory and its implications for particle physics and cosmology requires understanding the geometry and topology of extra dimensions and how to solve the stringent mathematical and physical consistency conditions that come with a UV complete theory of quantum gravity.

 

 

 

Members:

James Halverson | AI, String Theory, Mathematics, String Phenomenology | Website

Pran Nath | Supergravity, Particle Physics, Cosmology

Brent Nelson | AI, Cosmology, String Phenomenology

Fabian Ruehle | AI, String Theory, Mathematics, String Phenomenology | Website

Tomasz Taylor | Holography, Scattering Amplitudes

Interested in pursuing an advanced degree? Apply Now!

Co-op Experiences

Northeastern students value their experiences in a variety of work settings ranging from research and technical positions in corporations to research assistantships in cutting edge labs on campus or abroad. Our signature co-op experience provides a great opportunity to strengthen technical and professional skills.
Emily Batt
``For my final co-op, I pursued engineering roles to better understand industrial applications of basic science. I ended up at Fikst Product Development, and it was the perfect fit: hands-on, creative, challenging, team-oriented, fast-paced. I loved it and I stayed on for another four years.``
Meet Emily
Jameson O’Reilly, S’19
Jameson O’Reilly had the opportunity of a lifetime with two of his classmates to spend his co-op at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, more commonly known as CERN. While there, O’Reilly had the chance to work hands-on building and testing prototype miniature cathode strip chambers, miniCSCs. His work helped to design prototypes that would use gas mixtures that are less likely to contribute to greenhouse gases, like the current chambers do. Even after his co-op ended, O’Reilly was able to continue working for CERN on an extension of his project remotely, through an undergraduate research grant.

Degree Options

Interested in our undergraduate programs?

Coursework and Requirements
A sampling of the types of courses you could take here.
Biological Physics
PHYS 4621

Offers an introduction to biophysics focusing on development and implementation of physical models for various biophysical processes that occur in living organisms and in living cells.

Modern Physics
PHYS 2303

Offers an introduction to biophysics focusing on development and implementation of physical models for various biophysical processes that occur in living organisms and in living cells.

Advanced Physics
PHYS 3600

Introduces research through experiments that go beyond the simple demonstration of basic physical principles found in introductory physics courses. Experiments focus on lasers, fiber-optic communication, spectroscopy, Faraday rotation, speed of light, semiconductor physics, Hall effect, fuel cells, and Fourier analysis of music and sound.

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In the Media

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