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Haverford College
Departments of Physics and Astronomy
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Resources : Facilities

Physics Facilities

Facilities for the Physics Department in the Koshland Science Center include three well-equipped laboratories for instruction, all featuring computerized data acquisition systems. The facilities for intermediate and advanced lab courses include a thin metal ?lm deposition system, a chemical vapor deposition system (mostly used for making carbon nanotubes), microfabrication facilities, a cosmic ray experiment, atomic spectroscopy experiments, an instructional scanning tunneling microscope, a laser tweezer experiment, and equipment for experiments in micro-?uidics, among many others.

The department also has twelve lab rooms for research involving students, in four areas of research. 

The Nonlinear Dynamics and Fluids Laboratory includes state-of-the-art systems for digital image collection, and instrumentation for remote measurement of fluid flow and particle velocities. 

The laboratory for Nanofabrication and Scanning Tunneling Micros-copy houses an ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscope (STM) with atomic resolution, an atomic force microscope, two high-resolution optical microscopes, photoelectronic characterization equipment (including Ar ion and HeCd lasers), a UV-vis spectrometer, and an ultrahigh vacuum chamber.  The Biophysics laboratory includes a Microscopy and Manipulation Cluster for Biology and Nanoscale Science, shared with Biology and Chemistry.   This facility provides a unique combination of capabilities, including a high resolution atomic force microscopy capable of imaging biological samples in solution, and a laser tweezer and micromanipulator/ microinjection system for manipulating biological samples.  Additional facilities include a Langmuir trough for fabricating synthetic ion channel biomembranes, and a video fluorescence microscopy system for studies of model membrane systems. 

Computational science is currently undergoing rapid growth in physics with the acquisition of a 24 processor high performance linux cluster (Babbage) in physics, with potential to expand to 52 processors and the recent purchase of an additional ten research machines for a shared computational research room. Faculty from physics and astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science are working together to maximize the curricular benefits of these activities, including the enrichment of computational concentrations within existing departments, and opportunities for undergraduates to participate in computational research in all departments within the Koshland Science Center.

We use a variety of technical software in our courses and research, including Mathematica, MatLab, Python and Origin. This software is available on computer clusters throughout the science center (including three computers in the student physics lounge), and also can be installed on student-owned computers in dorm rooms via a key-server system.

Astronomy Facilities

Strawbridge Observatory shot at twilight in 2003

Facilities for the Astronomy Department include the William J. Strawbridge Observatory given in 1933 and built around an earlier structure. The Observatory has its own library, classroom, computer room, and workspace for departmental students.  Facilities include a computer controlled 16" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with three CCD cameras; a CCD spectrometer; a 12" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope; three portable 8" telescopes with outside piers; a 4" solar telescope; and a 7 ft. L-band (1.4 GHz) radio telescope.  Workstations are used for processing data from the CCD camera as well as radio and optical data collected at other observatories. The astronomy library contains 3,000 bound volumes and most of the relevant astronomy journals. All of these facilities are available for use by students.

In 2010, Haverford became a member of the 0.9m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. This resource provides an exciting opportunity for Haverford students to obtain astronomical observations at this research facility south of Tucson, Arizona.

Haverford is part of the KNAC eight college consortium which provides research assistantships for a summer student exchange program, grants for student travel to outside observatories, and a yearly symposium at which students present their research.

Observatory Webpage