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, High Performance Computing (HPC), 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.



Dr. Susanta Sarkar receives a $1.14M 4-year NIH R01 grant

Grant: Single-PI NIH R01 grant of $1.14 million over four years. This is the first single-PI NIH R01 grant at Mines

and the fifth NIH R01 at Mines as the lead ( Getting NIH R01 is a defining moment of a
biomedical career.Title: Allosteric control of collagen fibril degradation by matrix metalloprotease-1Abstract: Fibrils are the extracellular matrix (ECM) components that provide a scaffold for resident cells to maintain tissue integrity. Collagen fibril degradation by matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) is involved in the majority of the top ten causes of death and plays an essential role in normal and pathological tissue remodeling. Despite such overwhelming significance in human health, the mechanism of fibril degradation (as opposed to well-studied monomers) by MMPs is lacking, which limits the full potential of MMP ligands for therapeutics. Additionally, targeting MMPs for improving human health is challenging because MMPs interact with and degrade many proteins in the human body. Due to such diverse functions, any drug used for inhibiting MMPs results in adverse side effects. If we can identify allosteric ligands that bind at distant sites and change the activity, we may alter MMP1 activity on collagen fibrils with higher specificity and fewer side effects. This grant will enable molecular understanding of collagen fibril degradation byMMPs using a multidisciplinary approach and reveal general principles of protein function at the fundamental level.Broader impact for human health: Most drugs target proteins in our body to make us feel better. All drugs have some side effects because they alsoaffect unintended functions. We still do not know how to control protein for a specific function. Over the years, we have developedmethods for precision control that this grant will support testing experimentally. If successful, we will be able to develop drugs with a fewerside effects. Importantly, we will be able to target MMPs for drug discovery in many human diseases, an elusive goal for several decades.  

Upcoming Events

Announcements & Info

Physics Colloquium

March 28 @ 4:00 PM
For more information, please contact
Hilary Hurst
San José State University
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Quantum State Engineering Through Weak Measurement

More Info

Abstract: Superposition and entanglement are essential quantum properties which can be easily destroyed, rendering quantum devices useless. New modes of harnessing system-environment coupling can instead enable robust, entangled quantum phases and provide a route toward scalable quantum technologies. Weak measurement is one such route, which enables the extraction of targeted information from a quantum system while minimizing decoherence due to measurement backaction. However, in many-body quantum systems, backaction from weak measurements can have novel effects on wavefunction collapse. In this talk I will discuss a formalism we developed to describe weakly measured many-body quantum systems. I will describe a theoretical study of non-interacting fermions in one dimension. Repeated measurement of on-site occupation number drives the fermionic system from the completely delocalized Fermi sea toward a Fock state with well defined atom number on each site. We find that the spatial measurement resolution strongly affects both the collapse dynamics and the final state. We compare small-system exact numerical results to an analytical model and find that the quantum state undergoing measurement is described by a modified diffusion equation. These results indicate that weak measurement may be a powerful tool for state engineering in many-body quantum systems.

Biography: Dr. Hilary Hurst is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at San Jose State University. She is a quantum educator and theoretical physics researcher, with broad interests in condensed matter theory and many-body atomic physics. Her research primarily focuses on the theory of quantum noise and quantum measurement and feedback control. In addition to research, Dr. Hurst is passionate about making quantum physics education more accessible and preparing students to work in the growing quantum technology industry. Dr. Hurst is originally from Greeley, Colorado and received her BS in Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines in 2012. While at Mines she was a recipient of the President’s Senior Scholar-Athlete award. She went on to earn a Masters in Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge (UK), and received her PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland. Following her doctoral work, she was a National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Fellow at NIST in the Quantum Measurement Division. Dr. Hurst joined the faculty of San Jose State University in Fall 2020.

Physics Colloquium

April 4 @ 4:00 PM
For more information, please contact
Kaveh Ahadi
NC State University
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Engineering Cooperative Orders in Thin Films of Quantum Materials

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Abstract: The intersection of emergent phenomena, e.g., ferroelectricity, magnetism, and superconductivity, is a fertile landscape for exotic quantum orders. In this presentation, I will talk about engineering these cooperative orders in complex oxides and chalcogenide thin films and heterostructures. I will present our recent results on molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) growth of KTaO3 heterostructures and the emergence of long-range polarization and two-dimensional superconductivity in this system. I will also talk about the emergence of a magnetic order in KTaO3, a nominally nonmagnetic system. Finally, I will present our recent results on MBE growth and engineered intersections between ferroelectricity and superconductivity in Pb1-xSnxTe.

Bio: Kaveh Ahadi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics and Materials Science & Engineering of North Carolina State University. He received his Ph.D. in materials science at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2019). His current research focuses on correlated electrons and emergent phenomena at heterointerfaces; atomic-scale synthesis of heterostructures of quantum materials; low-dimensional superconductivity; oxide heterostructures for energy applications; and novel devices based on interface states.


Moon, Earth, Webb Telescope images, NASA