Physical chemistry is the study of chemical systems at the molecular and macroscopic level using the methods of physics. It forms a bridge between chemistry and other disciplines such as materials science, chemical engineering, biochemistry, and physics. Physical Chemistry at UW-Madison encompasses a wide swath of topics that share a commonality of understanding molecular properties. Topics include the theoretical and experimental study of:
- Laser spectroscopy of materials, clusters, and interstellar molecules.
- Dynamics and structures of glasses.
- Ultrafast spectroscopy of chemical and biological systems.
- Structure and dynamics of biomolecules and chemical catalysts
- Protein folding and aggregation in the cell, thermodynamic and kinetic effect of cosolutes in complex media.
- The electronic structure of materials and small molecules.
- Nanophotonic devices and their interactions with molecules.
- Molecular spectroscopy in interstellar media, origins of life.
Students in the Physical Chemistry path learn the fundamentals behind quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and based on their specific interests, biophysics, material science, or reaction dynamics, to name a few topics of interest. Physical Chemistry students are free to pursue their PhD with any faculty member in the Department, as well as in Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, and other departments on campus.
Physical chemistry at Madison also houses the Theoretical Chemistry Institute (TCI), which is a center formed by the theoretical faculty in Chemistry that use analytical and computational methods to study topics in chemistry. Learn about the Theoretical Chemistry Institute.
Chemistry at UW-Madison is top-notch, while also promoting an engaging and supportive environment. Graduates of the Physical Chemistry path have gone one to careers in academics, industry, consulting, teaching, law, and many other long-term careers. Feel free to contact the Graduate Program Office, or Prof. Martin Zanni, the Physical Chemistry Program Chair, for more information. Or, visit the personal pages of our faculty in the Pchem Path.