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Designing novel materials
Designing Novel Materials
Plasmonics, displays, superlenses, electromagnetic and acoustic cloaking, and superconductivity
Physics of life
Exploring the Physics of Life
From protein machines to bacterial division and propulsion
Physics faculty and students
Controlling Light and Matter
Advancing fundamental and applied quantum information and quantum computing, understanding gravity and developing ultrafast lasers
B1 phase
Soft Matter
Understanding the complex physics of fluids, polymers, liquid crystals, statistical and nonlinear systems
Professor Roland Winston and students
Harnessing the Sun
Fundamental research into next generation solar energy materials and technology

to support the Department of Physics
with a donation to UC Merced



Centers and Institutes

CCBM: Center for Cellular and Biomolecular MachinesMACES: Merced nAnomaterials Center for Energy and SensingHSRI: Health Sciences Research InstituteUC Solar: UC Advanced Solar Technologies Institute


Research Highlights

Cholesterol and motors: a biological analog of the many-body problem

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, graduate students Qiaochu Li and John Wilson, undergraduate student Luis Arteaga-Castaneda, and professor Jing Xu investigate a biological analog of the many-body problem ......

Topological protection in electrical circuits 

Using electric circuits with elements that exhibit memory effects,  Prof. Chih-Chun and colleagues show in their recent article in the Physical Review Letters, that a phenomenon known as custodial symmetry originally proposed in particle physics....

Microfabricating active flows

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, graduate student Dmitrius Khaladj and professor Linda Hirst and collaborators, show that active fluids can be controlled with microfabrication...

Using entropy to cross barriers

Writing in Nature MicrobiologyProf. Ajay Gopinathan and collaborators show that entropic forces alone can transport proteins to the outer surface of bacteria.....

News Highlights

September 20, 2023

Congratulations to all the students below! Ph.D. degrees awarded in spring and summer 2023: Michael Leveille, “Stimuli-Responsive Polymers with Unique Shape Changing Molecular...

September 20, 2023

During National Postdoc Appreciation Week we'd like to recognize the important contributions of our physics postdoctoral scholars. Here are some recent highlights from each of them: Dr....

September 12, 2023

A UC Merced researcher and her teammates around the world have succeeded in measuring the total amount of matter in the universe for the second time. A new paper in the Astrophysical Journal,...

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Welcome to Physics at UC Merced

Access to World Class Resources
As the 10th campus of the University of California, UC Merced draws on the outstanding resources of the UC system, a world renowned center for research and education. The research groups in this graduate group have access to major facilities, such as state of the art laser systems, an electron microscopy facility, a nanofabrication facility and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy on campus. Other large facilities, such as synchrotron light sources, located at Stanford University and UC Berkeley labs, are within two hours of driving distances. Students also have access to the extensive library holdings and journal subscriptions of the UC system.

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Our active, diverse group of faculty is enthusiastic, driven and invested in student success. Our team is large enough to offer rigorous and comprehensive training but small enough that students receive a lot of personal attention.

Interdisciplinary Research

UC Merced's academic structure and physical proximity make collaborative opportunities with other research groups the rule rather than the exception.

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Apply Now

If you're ready for a physics program that combines exciting research topics with close faculty interaction, why wait? Apply today.

Celebrating diversity

The second-largest program within the School of Natural Sciences, our graduate group celebrates diversity. Seven of the 20 faculty members are women and 43 percent of our students are either underrepresented minorities or women, which makes our group among the most diverse in the country.

Research-focused undergraduate education

Undergraduate students at UC Merced have a rare opportunity to take part in scientific research with world-renowned research groups in cutting-edge fields such as atomic, molecular & optical (AMO) physics, biological & soft matter physics, condensed matter & nanoscale physics, and solar & energy sciences. During the senior year all students work closely with a faculty advisor to design and carry out a research project, with many starting their research work in earlier years.  

Apply to our new REU program!