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Undergraduate and Graduate Studies
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

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.....

Quantum simulators gain high fidelity
Writing in npj Quantum Information (a journal of the Nature publishing group), Prof. Lin Tian, graduate student Prabin Parajuli and collaborators developed... 

Increasing the effectiveness of active learning using deliberate practice
Writing in the Physical Review Physics Education Research,  Kristina Callaghan and colleagues show how active learning can be enhanced through homework...

Spontaneous twisted double helices in liquid crystals
Writing in Soft Matter, Daniel Beller and collaborators show that twisted double-helix configurations can arise spontaneously...

Bacteria can propel themselves while stuck together
Writing in Communications Biology (Nature Publishing Group),  Yu Zheng and Bin Liu show that aggregating bacteria can use their flagella to propel and roll themseleves...

News Highlights

Professor Roland Winston and some of his student researchers with a solar collector
June 13, 2022

Distinguished Professor Roland Winston was among the first eight faculty members at UC Merced in 2003, two years before the campus opened. When he retires July 1, at age 86, he will be the first of...

Estefania Cuevas-Zepeda and Zachary Mauri
May 9, 2022

Two undergraduate students who will receive their bachelor’s degrees later this month have been selected for a unique opportunity to attend a meeting of some of the greatest minds in the world....

Professor David Strubbe and student Elsa Vazquez pose for a photo at UC Merced.
April 21, 2022

Physics undergraduate student Elsa Vazquez and her faculty mentor Professor David Strubbe have won a prestigious Cottrell Postbaccalaureate award that allows Vazquez to continue her research into 2D...

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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!