Optics and Materials

The optics and materials group offers exciting courses in the cutting edge of science and technology and conducts state-of-the-art research on nanomaterials, photonics, and magnetism. The faculty and students are developing novel nanostructured materials (e.g., fractal composites, highly correlated electron systems, semiconductor quantum wells and quantum dots) for next-generation technologies and studying these materials using a variety of experimental and theoretical tools. The group is well equipped for modern research, with major in-house experimental equipment including ultrafast lasers, scanning probe microscopes, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, an x-ray spectrometer, and a photoemission spectrometer. Computing facilities include numerous PCs, and the campus mainframe computers.

The group’s research is supported by various federal agencies (National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Defense, etc.) and two national laboratories in the New Mexico State: Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. In addition to the in-house research, the group conducts collaborative research programs with these two national laboratories, where some of our graduate students are doing their dissertation research.

The optics and materials group comprises of 4 regular faculty members, 3 research faculty members, 1 postdoctoral fellow, about 20 graduate students and some undergraduate students. (We are currently seeking a new faculty member in computational/theoretical materials physics and/or optics). The faculty and students in the optics and materials group interact frequently with those in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Chemistry, which provide additional research and education programs in optics and materials on the campus. 


There are a number of courses on optics (including modern topics such as lasers, fiber optics, nonlinear optics, and electro-optics as well as classical topics) and materials (including modern topics of semiconductors, magnetism, nanotechnology, and microscopy) on the NMSU campus for upper-division undergraduate students and graduate students. They are taught by faculty of Department of Physics (Professors Armstrong, Nakotte, Ying, and Zhu), Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Professors Giles and Voels), and Department of Chemistry (Professors Smirnov and Wang). Most of the optical courses are cross-listed in these two departments.

List of Optical Courses

Course Title PHYS EE Last Semester Offered Next Semester to be Offered
Photonics 301G   Spring 02 Spring 2003
Optics I 370 370 Spring 02 Spring 2003
Optics II/Advanced Optics    470/570       470/570    Fall 01 Fall 2002
Modern Experimental Optics 471/571 481/591 Fall 99  Fall 2002
Nonlinear Optics and Laser Physics 472/572   Spring 01  
Fiber Optics I 477/527 477/527 Fall 01 Fall 2002
Optical Sources, Detectors, and Radiometry 478/528 478/528 Fall 01 Fall 2002
Lasers and Applications 479/529 479/529 Spring 02  
Fiber Optics II 487/557 487/557 Spring 02 Fall 2003
Optics of Advanced Materials 573/673 593 Spring 00  
Spectroscopy 574 574 Spring 02  
Fourier Methods in Electro-optic 577 577 Fall 00  Fall 2002
Electro-Optics Systems 578 578 Spring 01  
Engineering of Optical Filters   579 Fall 95  
Laser Detection Techniques  580 580 Fall 96  
Quantum Optics  670 670 Fall 94  
Optical Signal Processing  677 677 Spring 95  

List of Materials Courses

Course Title PHYS Last Semester Offered Next Semester to be Offered
Electronic Materials and Devices 325G Fall 2001 Fall 2002
Condensed Matter Physics   488/588   Fall 2000 Spring 2003
Introduction to Modern Materials 489 New Course Fall 2002  
Optics of Advanced Materials 573/673 Spring 2000  
Modern Materials 589 Fall 2001 Fall 2002
Advanced Modern Materials 689 Fall 2001  



  • Robert L. Armstrong, Professor
    • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University (1970)
    • Current Research: Experimental optics, laser physics, microcavities

  • Heinz Nakotte, Assistant Professor
    • Ph.D., University of Amsterdam (1994)
    • Current Research: Experimental condensed matter physics, neutron scattering, high-magnetic-field studies

  • Z. Charles Ying, Associate Professor
    • Ph.D., Cornell University (1990)
    • Current Research: Experimental linear and nonlinear optics, surface science, scanning probe microscopy

  • Jane G. Zhu, Assistant Professor
    • Ph.D., Cornell University (1991)
    • Current Research: Experimental materials science, electronic and optoelectronic materials, electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopy

Research Faculty and Postdoctoral Fellow:

  • Peter de Chatel, Visiting Professor
    • Ph.D., Eotvos University, Budapest, Hungary (1968)
    • Current Research: Theoretical condensed matter physics

  • Xiaobo Chen, Visiting Professor
    • Ph.D., Peking University, China (1989)
    • Current Research: Experimental optics, laser physics

  • Robert J. Liefeld, Professor(emeritus)
    • Ph.D. Ohio State University (1959)
    • Current Research: Experimental x-ray and atomic physics

  • Myung-Hwa Jung, Postdoctoral Fellow
    • Ph.D., Hiroshima University, Japan (2000)
    • Current Research: Neutron scattering, high-magnetic-field studies, strongly correlated electron systems

    Graduate Students:

    • Thomas Albers (with Prof. Armstrong)
    • Abdel Al-Smadi (with Prof. Nakotte, at Los Alamos National Laboratory)
    • Fedda Al-Zoubi (with Prof. Armstrong)
    • Katyayani Banerjee-Seal (with Prof. Ying)
    • Andrey Buin (with Prof. Nakotte)
    • Michael Campin (with Prof. Zhu, at Sandia National Laboratories)
    • Sung Chang (with Prof. Nakotte, at Los Alamos National Laboratory)
    • Melinda Deramo (with Prof. Voelz at ECE)
    • James Dewald (with Prof. Zhu)
    • Sami El-Khatib (with Prof. Nakotte)
    • Yonggang Lu
    • Kazunari Maeda (with Prof. Nakotte)
    • Anton Malko (with Prof. Ying, at Los Alamos National Laboratory)
    • Rudy Montoya (with Prof. Armstrong)
    • Mark Nelson (with Prof. Ying)
    • Yu Pan
    • Ramya Rajaram (with Prof. Nakotte)
    • Amarin Ratanavis
    • Jungtae Rha (with Prof. Giles at ECE)
    • Xifeng Xiao
    • Dzmitry Yarotski (with Prof. Ying, at Los Alamos National Laboratory)

    Interesting Sites