Graduate Program

There is a long tradition of optics in science, from ancient times to Newton and Einstein, continuing through many Nobel prizes, and leading to the present. The ability to control light and matter with high precision opens the possibility for many new discoveries and inventions, it is anticipated that optics will continue to lead us into the next revolution in both basic science and the developement of new technologies

For graduate students, optics provides opportunities for research in fundamental areas of physics and chemistry. At the same time, optics also provides an enabling set of technologies for application in the life sciences and industry. It is this unique combination of fundamental science coupled with practical applications that make optics a field which opens many career paths to someone with an expertise in optics.

Recent PhD graduates (in both Physics and Chemistry) have gone from the Oregon Center for Optics to positions in :

  • Teaching (both 4 year college and research university)
  • Bio-medical research
  • Industry
  • Physics and Chemistry research

The Oregon Center for Optics, which works collaboratively with the Physics and Chemistry Departments at the University, consists of eight faculty and the graduate students, post-docs and visiting scientists who work with them. These groups work collaboratively to further the field of optical science. Areas of research currently being studied include:

  • Optical properties of semiconductor nanostructures
  • Quantum chaos and semiclassical physics in microcavities
  • Preparation and optical properties of metal and semiconductor nanoparticles
  • Fabrication and study of self-assembled photonic crystals
  • Quantum fluctuations in nonlinear optical processes
  • Quantum information and quantum optics
  • Theory and simulation of time-resolved optical spectroscopy
  • Simulation of condensed-phase molecular processes
  • Redfield theory and other relaxation-theory treatments
  • Information, light transport in random media
  • Nonlinear optical and single-molecule studies of biological macromolecules


The Oregon Center for Optics is housed in the physics building, Willamette Hall, which is a part of the science complex on the university's 280-acre campus. The $44 million complex includes the science library and four buildings, . The physics building , completed in 1989, contains 136,000 square feet of laboratory, classroom, and office space.

The Center has state-of-the art lasers and other research equipment in addition to professionally staffed, machine and electronics shops.

Course of Study

Students interested in studying Optics apply to the Departments of Physics or Chemistry doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program. The doctoral program emphasizes research work in addition to course work and generally requires five to six years of graduate study.

Physics Admissions Chemistry Admissions

Further Information

Students who have a particular interest in Optics or have further questions are encouraged to contact the Center directly at Jennifer Purcell, research coordinator, will be happy to send an informational brochure, answer your questions, and arrange a tour of the center.

Area Information

UofO Housing

Living in Eugene