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Atomic and Molecular Physics

Atomic physicists study single ions and atoms. Molecular physicists investigate small molecules (a few atoms) that are in their gaseous phase. Read the following article to find out more about degree programs and careers in these fields.

Inside Atomic and Molecular Physics

Atomic and molecular physics is an area of specialization in the field of physics. Atomic physicists study isolated, separated ions and atoms, along with electron arrangements and excitation. Molecular physicists investigate molecules that have several atoms. They specifically look at the molecule's chemical bonding, nuclei and electrons when the molecule is in its gas phase. Mathematics and critical thinking are two skills that physicists often rely on in their work.

Education Information

Atomic and molecular physicists generally have a master's or a doctorate degree. While bachelor's degree programs in physics do not offer concentrations in atomic and molecular physics, they do provide students with a background in physics before they begin their graduate studies. Molecular physics overlaps with physical and quantum chemistry, as well as chemistry physics, and students often take courses in these disciplines. Students in atomic physics may take core classes, such as quantum mechanics, theoretical mechanics, accelerator physics and thermodynamics.

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