Research

Conducting Research that Matters on Large and Small Scales

Whether they are working in core physics areas or collaborating with colleagues in mathematics, computer science, engineering, or life sciences, faculty members and students in WPI’s Physics department are actively engaged in research to develop practical solutions for real-world problems.

Learn more about two of the areas in which WPI physicists are making groundbreaking discoveries; biophysics and nanoscience.


Biophysics/Soft Matter

Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physical science to study biological systems by applying the principles of physics and chemistry and the methods of mathematical analysis and computer modeling to understand how biological systems work. Biophysics seeks to explain biological function in terms of the molecular structures and properties of specific molecules. WPI researchers are making strides in molecular and multi-molecular aspects of biophysics by fostering groups engaged in multidisciplinary research in this field.

Biophysics gives us medical imaging technologies including MRI, CAT scans, PET scans, and sonograms for diagnosing diseases. It provides the life-saving treatment methods of kidney dialysis, radiation therapy, cardiac defibrillators, and pacemakers. Learn more about the Physics faculty members breaking ground in this ever-evolving field and their research groups.


Nanoscience

Nanoscience, an interdisciplinary field that incorporates elements of physics, engineering, biotechnology, and chemistry, deals with structures that are very small in nature, generally those smaller than 100 nanometers - or about one ten-millionth of an inch. Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve the ability to see and to control these tiny, individual atoms which make up everything on Earth. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, and even the human body, all consist of atoms.

But something as small as an atom is impossible to see with the naked eye - in fact, the atom is impossible to see with the typical microscope. Therefore physicists generally have to invent the instrumentation they need to study things at the nanoscale. Once physicists developed the right tools, such as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM), the benefits of nanoscience research to society became very clear.

The potential applications of nanoscience research are considerable, affecting such areas as drug development, transportation, communication, and sustainable energy. Learn more about the Physics faculty members engaged in nanoscience and their groundbreaking research.

 
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