Applied Physical Sciences Courses

Welcome to the Course Listing page for Applied Physical Sciences. Here you will find a description of all the graduate courses offered by the Applied Physical Sciences department in addition to a selection of affiliated department course offerings available to undergraduates.

  • To view graduate courses, please click here.
  • To view undergraduate courses, please click here. Click to view Spring 2020 course offerings.

Graduate Coursework Grading

All master’s and doctoral programs administered through The Graduate School operate under the same grading system. The graduate grading scale in use at UNC-Chapel Hill is unique in that it cannot be converted to the more traditional ABC grading scale. Graduate students do not carry a numerical GPA.

Grading at the graduate level is intended to offer feedback to students on their performance in a given course, including once students reach the thesis and dissertation stage. Faculty are encouraged to specify course requirements and grading expectations for students.

More information about grades for graduate coursework can be found here.

Graduate Coursework in Applied Physical Sciences

Required Courses

All APS graduate students must pass 6 courses of 3 credit hours each and 2 seminar courses of 1 credit hour each in their first year (20 credit hours total):  one cohort course, two electives, and one seminar in the fall semester and one cohort course, two electives and one seminar in the spring semester.

Fall Semester

MTSC 710 — Seminar in Materials Science and Engineering
1 Credit.
Students will discuss topics concerning contemporary materials science and engineering and will learn skills and knowledge required to be successful graduate students. The seminars will include workshops presented by invited speakers and research presentations by first- and second-year PhD students. Students are expected to read publications and/or assigned materials, be prepared to present their findings, and participate in class discussion.
Grading status: Letter grade.

MTSC 780 — Advanced Materials Science
3 Credits.

This course covers the physical fundamentals of material science with an in-depth discussion of structure formation in soft and hard materials and how structure determines material mechanical, electrical, thermal, and optical properties. Topics include amorphous and crystal structures, defects, dislocation theory, thermodynamics and phase diagrams, diffusion, interfaces and microstructures, solidification, and theory of phase transformation. Special emphasis will be on the structure-property relationships of (bio)polymers, (nano)composites, and their structure property relationships
Grading status: Letter grade.

Spring Semester

MTSC 710 — Seminar in Materials Science and Engineering
1 Credit.
Students will discuss topics concerning contemporary materials science and engineering and will learn skills and knowledge required to be successful graduate students. The seminars will include workshops presented by invited speakers and research presentations by first- and second-year PhD students. Students are expected to read publications and/or assigned materials, be prepared to present their findings, and participate in class discussion.
Grading status: Letter grade.

MTSC 765 — Electronic Materials and Devices – Organic and Inorganic
3 Credits.

The course introduces the electronic and optical processes in organic molecules and polymers that govern the behavior of practical organic optoelectronic devices. The course begins with an overview of fundamental science of electronic materials and devices. We then discuss their optoelectronic properties of organic molecules, including topics from photophysics, charge transport and injection. Emphasis will be equally placed on the use of both inorganic and organic electronic materials in organic electronic devices.
Prerequisites: No prerequisites

MTSC 785 — Scientific Computing for Material Science
3 Credits.

This course covers the physical fundamentals of material science with in-depth development of the principles controlling the formation of the structure of engineering materials. Topics include crystal structures, defects, dislocation theory, thermodynamics and phase diagrams, diffusion, interfaces and microstructures, solidification and theory of phase transformation, and physical properties of hard and soft materials.
Grading status: Letter grade.

Elective Courses

Below are some of the elective courses offered through the Applied Physical Sciences department. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Consult with your advisor about taking elective courses in other disciplines that best align with your interests.

MTSC 712 — Introduction to Convergent Engineering
3 Credits.
Take-home and in-class activities, group discussion and problem-solving coaching will enhance student understanding of how chemistry, physics, materials science and biology are applied to engineering. There will be special focus on BioEngineering, Chemical, Mechanical and Environmental Engineering. Discussions of relevant scientific literature introduce each topic. Guest lecturers and faculty will provide perspectives in fields like mathematical modeling, mechanical engineering or circuit design so students gain a true interdisciplinary view of topics.
Grading status: Letter grade.

MTSC 740 — Advanced Biomaterials
3 Credits.

Medical or dental implants or explants are highlighted from textbooks, scientific literature, and personal accounts.
Requisites: Prerequisite, BMME 510; Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite.
Same as: BMME 740.

MTSC 745 — Chemistry of Biomaterials
3 Credits.

Focuses on the chemistry and chemical structure-function relationships of soft synthetic biological materials. Topics include chemistry of proteins, peptides, nucleic acids, polysaccharides and lipids, and their incorporation into biomaterials and biosensors; enzymatic reactions; chemical modification of organic and inorganic surfaces using self-assembled monolayer chemistries, bioconjugation chemistries, synthesis of nanoparticles and their application as sensors, application of biological materials for logic operations, fundamentals of supramolecular chemistry.ental implants or explants are highlighted from textbooks, scientific literature, and personal accounts.

MTSC 750 — Kinetics, Diffusion, and Phase Transitions of Materials
3 Credits.

Reaction kinetics in bulk materials. Mass transport, microstructural transformations, and phase transitions in condensed phases. Atom diffusion in solids. Spinodal decomposition.

MTSC 810 — Device Physics and Electronic Properties of Solids
3 Credits.

Survey of crystal structure, bandstructure, transport. Overview of FETs, heterostructures, light emission, dissipation, noise, integrated circuits, solar cells, and ceramics. Emphasis on physical sources of device behavior.
Requisites: Prerequisites, APPL 470 or PHYS 573, MTSC 615, and 730; permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites.

MTSC 820 — Optical Properties of Solids
3 Credits.

Reflection, waveguides, nonlinear optics, optical switching, photorefraction, optical storage. Optical coupling to electronic states, device applications, optical computing.
Requisites: Prerequisites, APPL 470 or PHYS 573, and PHYS 415; permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites.

MTSC 830 — Ion-Solid Interactions
3 Credits.

Interatomic potentials, range distribution, radiation damage, annealing, secondary defects, analytical techniques, silicon-based devices, implantation in compound semiconductors, and buried layer synthesis. Ion implantation in metals, ceramics, polymers, and biomaterials.
Requisites: Prerequisite, APPL 470 or PHYS 573; permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite.

MTSC 840 — New Technologies and Device Architecture
3 Credits.

Survey of novel and emerging device technologies. Resonant tunneling transistors, HEMT, opto-electronic devices and optical communication and computation, low-temperature electronic, hybrid superconductor devices.
Requisites: Prerequisites, APPL 470 or PHYS 573, MTSC 615, and 730; permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites.

MTSC 871 — Solid State Physics
3 Credits.

Equivalent experience for students lacking the prerequisite. Topics considered include those of PHYS 573, but at a more advanced level, and in addition a detailed discussion of the interaction of waves (electromagnetic, elastic, and electron waves) with periodic structures, e.g., X-ray diffraction, phonons, band theory of metals and semiconductors.
Requisites: Prerequisite, PHYS 321.
Same as: PHYS 871.

MTSC 872 — Solid State Physics
3 Credits.

Topics considered include those of PHYS 573, but at a more advanced level, and in addition a detailed discussion of the interaction of waves (electromagnetic, elastic, and electron waves) with periodic structures, e.g., X-ray diffraction, phonons, band theory of metals and semiconductors.
Requisites: Prerequisite, PHYS 321.
Same as: PHYS 872.

MTSC 891 — Special Topics in Material Science
1-3 Credits.

Permission of the department. Current topics in materials science, including electronic and optical materials, polymers, and biomaterials.

MTSC 992 — Master’s, Non-Thesis
3 Credits.

MTSC 993 — Master’s Research and Thesis
3 Credits.

Permission of the department.
Repeat rules: May be repeated for credit.

MTSC 994 — Doctoral Research and Dissertation
3 Credits.

Permission of the department.
Repeat rules: May be repeated for credit.

Undergraduate Coursework in Applied Sciences and Engineering

The Department of Applied Physical Sciences (APS) is developing a variety of courses that will integrate into our undergraduate academic programs and make engineering and making concepts accessible to all UNC students. An undergraduate major will be offered beginning Fall 2023.*

Looking for available courses by semester? Click to view Spring 2020 available courses.

*The undergraduate division of the Applied Physical Sciences department timeline is tentative.

Course Listing

APPL 110 — Intro to Design and Making: Developing Your Personal Design Potential
3 Credits.

Students work in flexible, interdisciplinary teams to assess opportunities, brainstorm, and prototype solutions. Design thinking and physical prototyping skills are developed through fast-paced, iterative exercises in a variety of contexts and environments.

APPL 290-001 — Materials Science and Engineering
3 Credits.

This course will be an introduction to topics in materials science and with a strong focus on materials, processing and engineering and how design plays a pivotal role in materials selection. A central theme will be in-class demonstrations and hands-on experiments so you will experience first-hand why materials do what they do and how to select the appropriate material for the right application. It’s a materials world after all!
Requisites: CHEM 102 and PHYS 116 or 118

APPL 290-002 — Sensors and Electrical Circuits
3 Credits.

The course will have an active learning format. For most class sessions, we will start by learning new material, and then transition to hands-on laboratory exercises to reinforce these new concepts. There will be a final project in which students design and develop a system that measures a parameter, and acquires and analyzes the resulting signal on the computer.
Requisites: ONE of the following – PHYS 105, 115, 117, or 119.

APPL390 — Introduction to Convergent Engineering
3 Credits.
Take-home and in-class activities, group discussion and problem-solving coaching will enhance student understanding of how chemistry, physics, materials science and biology are applied to engineering. There will be special focus on BioEngineering, Chemical, Mechanical and Environmental Engineering. Discussions of relevant scientific literature introduce each topic. Guest lecturers and faculty will provide perspectives in fields like mathematical modeling, mechanical engineering or circuit design so students gain a true interdisciplinary view of topics.

APPL 411Practical Electronics for Everyone
1 Credit.

Design and fabrication for practical electronics circuits, including interfacing with sensors and actuators.

APPL 412 — Design and Making: Turning Your Entrepreneurial Ideas Into Reality
3 Credits.

Do you have an entrepreneurial idea and you would like to make a prototype to turn your idea into reality? Or do you want to experience the design and making process? In this class, you will go through this process for a semester-long project. The final outcome will be a prototype that meets an entrepreneurial need. Students from any major are welcome to take this class.
Requisites: Prerequisites, ECON 125, Introduction to Entrepreneurship. Orientation in the BeAM makerspace is also required.

APPL 413LabView for Data Acquisition
1 Credit.

The basics of data acquisition and hardware interfacing using LabVIEW graphical programming.

APPL 420Introduction to Polymer Chemistry
3 Credits.

Chemical structure and nomenclature of macromolecules, synthesis of polymers, characteristic polymer properties.
Requisites: Prerequisites,CHEM 261 or 261H; pre- or corequisites, CHEM 262 or 262H, and 262L or 263L
Same as: CHEM 420

APPL 421Synthesis of Polymers
3 Credits.

Synthesis and reactions of polymers; various polymerization techniques.
Requisites: Prerequisites, CHEM 251 and 262 or 262H
Same as: CHEM 421

APPL 422Physical Chemistry of Polymers
3 Credits.

Polymerization and characterization of macromolecules in solution.
Requisites: Prerequisites, CHEM 420 and 481
Same as: CHEM 422

APPL 423Intermediate Polymer Chemistry
3 Credits.

Polymer dynamics, networks and gels.
Requisites: Prerequisite, CHEM 422
Same as: CHEM 423

APPL 425Optical Instrumentation for Scientists and Engineers
3 Credits.

This course introduces principles of optical system design, covering a broad variety of imaging and microscopy instruments. The material will include computational methods for optical signal processing and basic principles governing light-matter interactions. The course will include theory and hands-on experience to implement and test methods. We will discuss recent publications and state-of-the-art optical systems which are task-driven, controlled by computers, tailored to specific applications, and optimized to monitor or manipulate complex systems.

APPL 470Fundamentals of Materials Science
3 Credits.

Prerequisite, CHEM 482; or Crystal geometry, diffusion in solids, mechanical properties of solids, electrical conduction in solids, thermal properties of materials, phase equilibria.
Requisites: Prerequisite, PHYS 128 and pre- or corequisite, PHYS 441
Same as: CHEM 470

APPL 473Chemistry and Physics of Surfaces
3 Credits.

The structural and energetic nature of surface states and sites, experimental surface measurements, reactions on surfaces including bonding to surfaces and adsorption, interfaces.
Requisites: Prerequisite, CHEM 470
Same as: CHEM 473

APPL 475Design and Fabrication of Fluids Monitoring Devices 
3 Credits.

Review of basic fluid mechanics theory including the fundamentals of pressure/flow relationships, fluid properties, and flow regimes. Class and laboratory time will be devoted to design and creation of physical prototypes that demonstrate specific concepts and measure defined parameters. Students will use the BeAM makerspace network extensively to make things that illustrate fluid device design concepts. Class time will include exercises to reinforce concepts and a guided design activity to create a physical device.

APPL 490-001 — Sensors & Measurement Technologies (Fall 2019)
3 Credits.

The course will have an active learning format. For most class sessions, we will start by learning new material, and then transition to hands-on laboratory exercises to reinforce these new concepts. There will be a final project in which students design and develop a system that measures a parameter, and acquires and analyzes the resulting signal on the computer.
Requisites: No prerequisites

APPL 490-002 — Electronics for measurement, control, and the Internet of Things (Fall 2019)
1 Credit.

This class builds on the material in APPL 411 Practical Electronics for Everyone. Students learn how to acquire electrical circuits to a computer, perform basic filtering and signal processing, and then control indicators and motors. Students also learn how to develop circuits that are part of the Internet of Things. Students will get hands on experience with electronics in this course.
Requisites: APPL 411 or permission of the instructor

APPL 490-003 — Data Science for Applied Science and Engineering (Fall 2019)
3 Credits.

This course brings together various topics in data science of particular interest for data analysis across different areas of applied science and engineering. Possible topics will include dimensionality reduction, transforms, clustering, classification, and neural networks.
Requisites: BMME 410 or MATH 528, or must be concurrently enrolled. Instructor approval required.

APPL 490-001 — Optical Instrumentation (Spring 2020)
3 Credits.

This course invites students to learn optics from the perspective of end-users in need of advanced optical technology for scientific, and industrial applications. We discuss a broad variety of microscopy instruments and give students the opportunity to design their own device as part of a class project.
Requisites: No prerequisites

APPL 490-002 — Soft Materials (Spring 2020)
3 Credits.

What kind of material is Sponge Bob made of? Or, what about the slime of his pet snail, Gary? We are taught that there are three states of matter: solid, gas, and liquid. However, in our daily lives we encounter materials that challenge this simple description such as foams, pastes, gels, soap, and rubber. These are Soft Materials and in this course we will learn about their special properties.
Requisites: TBD

APPL 490-003 — Nanophotonics (Spring 2020)
3 Credits.

This course introduces the principles of nanophotonics – an emerging frontier at the nexus of nanotechnology and photonics that deals with light-matter interactions at the nanometer scale. The course will cover the theoretical foundations of nanoscale optical interactions, fabrication and characterization of optical nanomaterials, plasmonics, optical trapping and manipulation, electrodynamic simulations, and applications of nanophotonics.
Requisites: PHYS 117 and CHEM 251.

APPL 520LPolymer Chemistry Laboratory
2 Credits.

Various polymerization techniques and characterization methods. One four-hour laboratory each week.
Requisites: Pre- or corequisite, CHEM 420 or 421 or 425
Same as: CHEM 520L

APPL 573 Introductory Solid State Physics
3 Credits.

Crystal symmetry, types of crystalline solids; electron and mechanical waves in crystals, electrical and magnetic properties of solids, semiconductors; low temperature phenomena; imperfections in nearly perfect crystals.
Requisites: Prerequisite, PHYS 321; permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite
Same as: PHYS 573

APPL 710Seminar in Materials Science and Engineering
2 Credits.

Design and fabrication for practical electronics circuits, including interfacing with sensors and actuators.

APPL 760LNanofabrication/micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) Laboratory
2 Credits.

Permission of the instructor. A laboratory course covering fabrication technologies for building materials and structures in biomedical devices, electronics, MEMS, and nanomedicine. The course includes lectures on thin film deposition, etching, and photolithography and hands-on laboratories to apply knowledge and practice skills covered in the lectures.