Physics

The Department of Physics at Colorado School of Mines is dedicated to high-quality physics education for undergraduate and graduate students and advancing the world’s knowledge in the areas of condensed matter physics, applied optics, quantum physics, renewable energy physics, and subatomic physics.

Education and Research

Our faculty and students at all levels conduct more than $6 million in externally funded research every year, with many projects associated with Mines’ pioneering research centers.

Research centers with strong connections to Physics include the Mines/NREL Nexus, the Golden Energy Computing Organization (GECO), the Microintegrated Optics for Advanced Bioimaging and Control Center (MOABC), and the Nuclear Science and Engineering Center (NuSEC).

Our faculty are consistently recognized for both their research and their teaching, while our graduate and undergraduate students are often the recipients of awards and grants.

Physics is also heavily involved with Mines’ interdisciplinary graduate programs in Materials Science, Nuclear Engineering, and Quantum Engineering.

Watch the video below to learn more about the varied and exciting physics research taking place at Mines.

Upcoming Events

& Announcements

Physics Colloquium

January 26 @ 4:00 PM
MD SIMULATIONS OF CORONAVIRUS PROTEINS

Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a strain of coronaviruses, named for the characteristic trimeric spike (S) glycoproteins that protrude from the viral membrane surface. The S proteins are type I fusion proteins, which upon recognition of ACE2, their host cell receptor, undergo substantial conformational change leading to membrane fusion and viral entry. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we have investigated several aspects for both the conformational landscape of the pre-fusion S protein as well as the receptor-binding process. Before binding, the receptor-binding domain on the S protein must first open to make the binding site accessible. We have carried out free-energy calculations to determine the minimum-free-energy pathway for this opening on the nation’s largest supercomputer, Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Our simulations reveal, in particular, the role of S-protein glycans in modulating the opening process as well as the roles of key mutations. Next, machine learning applied to multiple microsecond-scale trajectories has allowed us to identify key residues that differentiate between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 S-protein binding to the receptor. Free-energy perturbation of selected residues further reveals the energetic contributions of individual mutations. Finally, we have also determined the contributions of ACE2 receptor glycans to binding, illustrating in part why SARS-CoV-2 may bind more easily than SARS-CoV.

    News

Moon and Earth images, NASA

Mines@150

In 2024, the year of our 150th anniversary, we will celebrate Colorado School of Mines’ past, present and possibilities. By celebrating and supporting the Campaign for MINES@150 you will help elevate Mines to be an accessible, top-of-mind and first-choice for students, faculty, staff, recruiters and other external partners. When you give, you are ensuring Mines becomes even more distinctive and highly sought-after by future students, alumni, industry, and government partners over the next 150 years. We look forward to celebrating Mines’ sesquicentennial with you and recognizing the key role you play in making the MINES@150 vision a reality through your investments of time, talent and treasure.

Mines@150

In 2024, the year of our 150th anniversary, we will celebrate Colorado School of Mines’ past, present and possibilities. By celebrating and supporting the Campaign for MINES@150 you will help elevate Mines to be an accessible, top-of-mind and first-choice for students, faculty, staff, recruiters and other external partners. When you give, you are ensuring Mines becomes even more distinctive and highly sought-after by future students, alumni, industry, and government partners over the next 150 years. We look forward to celebrating Mines’ sesquicentennial with you and recognizing the key role you play in making the MINES@150 vision a reality through your investments of time, talent and treasure.