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Research and Teaching Facilities

The Faculty of the Physics department are all engaged in externally funded research. As a result, the department has an outstanding set of facilities to support your learning and research. Our students are utilizing these resources regularly to build skills and carry out research with their faculty mentors.

Accelerator Lab
The Ion Beam Analysis lab uses a particle accelerator to explore not only the elemental composition of objects, but the location of these elements on the surface and near the surface of the object. The techniques developed in this facility are used by faculty and student researchers in Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics, and by several local industries.  Current research projects include studies in environmental science, forensics, nuclear physics and national/homeland security.

Astrophysics Group
The Astrophysics Group works with researchers across the country and internationally on modeling astrophysical systems. These models are used by observers at NASA and other facilities not only to help understand the information they are gathering using earth-based and space-based instruments, but to develop the next generation of space-based instruments. Once again, students build great skills in computational techniques and complex problem solving that has lead to great opportunities and careers across the country.

Materials Characterization Lab
The Materials Characterization lab houses three different instruments used by multiple research groups to study material surfaces and structures. The scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope are used to image surfaces at micrometer scales. The cathodoluminescense system is used to understand the lattice and elemental structure of materials.

Microwave Lab
Hope College students in the Microwave lab do original research in condensed matter physics, plasma physics and engineering physics. In recent years students have studied stratospheric gas processes which will help deepen understanding of atomic and molecular interactions in the earth’s atmosphere. They worked on the applicability of superconductivity to microwave electronics and electrically engineered photonic crystals. Students have collaborated across campus, with chemistry in plasma research and with the ion beam accelerator lab in superconductivity research.

Nuclear Group
The Nuclear Group also conducts fundamental nuclear science experiments at national accelerator labs. The students in this group often travel to the accelerator facility at Michigan State University to help carry out experiments and then return to Hope to analyze the results and develop deeper understanding of the interactions that hold nuclei together. In addition, the students develop an understanding of not only nuclear science, but the cutting edge technologies and computational techniques used to carry out these vary complex studies. Alumni have gone on to careers in medical physics, national security and teaching.

Hope College is home to the Harry F. Frissel observatory, which houses a 12-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope equipped with an imaging CCD camera.  The telescope/imaging system is used primarily as a teaching tool and is linked to a computer in the classroom where it can be controlled remotely and real time images can be displayed.  In addition, we have two 8" and one 10" portable Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes and a number of binoculars that are used for viewing out in the field as part of our Night Sky course.

Surface Lab
The Surface lab is used to understand and control the fabrication of metallic thin films and nanostructures. Scanning probe microscopes and electrochemistry techniques are used to explore the various facets of this research that spans the fields of chemistry, physics and materials science. Undergraduate researchers collaborate with the Ion Beam Analysis group to characterize the composition of the samples developed in the surface lab.