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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

Twisted filaments sense bacterial shape
 Writing in Nature Communications, Ajay Gopinathan and collaborators show that bacteria shape is regulated by twisted filaments....

Filling a void in the understanding of amorphous solar cells
David Strubbe and his student Enrique Guerrero study voids in solar cells in a recently published work in Physical Review Materials......

Active nematics go three-dimensional
In their recent work published in the Science magazine, Daniel Beller and collaborators show that 3D active nematics flow by creating topologically neutral defect loops...

Physics students learn more from active learning than they may realize
Kristina Callaghan and collaborators measure effectiveness of active learning in physics classrooms in their work published in PNAS...

Topological chaos in active nematics
In their Nature Physics article, the Hirst and Mitchell groups show that chaotic flows in active nematics can be understood as braiding by topological defects...

News Highlights

September 10, 2020

Physics Professor Lin Tian looks to tiny quantum objects to answer very big questions. Her research group is pursuing quantum computing and technology project that are helping to expand her...

September 2, 2020

As scientists build smaller and smaller machines, they need to understand the invisible forces that make those machines work. Thanks to research and the initiative of then-UC Merced graduate...

July 19, 2020
Dr. Sarah Loebman, Dr. Anna Nierenberg, Dr. Hui Cai and Dr. Brian Utter will all start in the fall of 2020. Between them, they will bring new research directions and teaching interests to the...
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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.

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.


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.