The aims of physics and astronomy are to discover the fundamental principles of nature, from elementary particles to the Universe as a whole, to understand various physical phenomena using basic principles, and to transfer these achievements to society through the development of new scientific technologies. The scope of physics and astronomy is very broad: ranging from the microscopic world of elementary particles, nuclei, atoms, or molecules to the macroscopic world of stars, galaxies, and even the whole universe. It also covers practical fields such as semiconductors, superconductors, biological systems, the human body, and even traffic flow and human economic activity.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Seoul National University has been a leading physics department in Korea since its inception in 1946. The Department of Physics and Astronomy is primarily responsible for physics and astronomy education at SNU and directs current active research in physics and astronomy as well. Both masters (M.Sc.) and doctoral (Ph.D.) courses are offered under graduate studies and currently about 290 students are enrolled in its programs. The Department not only carries undergraduate and graduate programs for physics and astronomy majors, but also offers diverse courses for non-physics and astronomy majors. For example, the Elementary Physics Course serves over 2000 freshmen each semester.
The Department conducts active research in most areas of physics and astronomy including theoretical and experimental studies of elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, and condensed matter physics, atomic physics, plasma physics, optics, and statistical and computational physics in physics area and cosmology, extragalactic astronomy, our galaxy, interstellar medium, stars and the sun in astronomy area. At present (May, 2007) we have 47 regular faculty members, 4 research professors, and 46 research associates in the Department. In order to maintain efficient support for the high-quality research by its members, the Department also hosts the Center for Theoretical Physics (CTP) and the Center for Strongly Correlated Materials Research (CSCMR) funded by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation, as well as the Condensed Matter Research Institute (CMRI) which is affiliated to the Research Institute for Basic Sciences (RIBS), SNU, and supported by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Korea.
One Creative Research Initiative Center, the Research Center for Oxide Electronics (ReCOE), five National Research Laboratories, Extreme Multifunctional Physics Lab.(XMPL), Micro & Nano Vacuum ElectroPhysics Lab., Biomedical Physics Lab.(BPL), Hybrid Nano-Device & Nano-Assembly Lab.(HND), Quantum Field Laser Lab. and one Korea-Sweden Carbon Based Nanostructure Research Center are located in the Department. It also maintains close relations with several institutes around the campus, such as the Information Center for Physics Research (ICPR), the Inter-University Center of Natural Science Research Facilities (ICNSRF), and the Inter-University Semiconductor Research Center (ISRC). The Department operates a number of facilities, such as its own library, computer rooms, machine shop, sample preparation room, liquid nitrogen distribution facility, and the helium liquefier, and gas recovery systems in physics side. SNU has several astronomical facilities at the Kwanak campus, including a 61cm reflector telescope equipped with modern detectors, a 6m millimeter-wave radio telescope, and a PDS microdensitometer. Students also have access to various astronomical resources offered by other institutions such as the 14m radio telescope at Daeduk Radio Astronomy Observatory, the 61cm optical telescope at Mt. Sobaek Observatory, and the 1.8m optical telescope at Mt. Bohyun Optical Astronomy Observatory. Students are also encouraged to use major worldwide observational facilities for their research activity. For computing facilities, the Astronomy Program has a mini-supercomputer for large-scale simulations and dozens of fast workstations in its computer room.
Currently, the Brain Korea 21 (BK21) program sponsored by the MOE supports the Department of Physics and Astronomy, particularly in enhancing the preparation of the forthcoming generation to reach the world's highest standards. The tuition and/or living expenses of most graduate students are supported by the BK21 program and many other scholarships. Nowadays it is a familiar sight to find foreign students and researchers from all over the world in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Students of the Department also have frequent opportunities to visit foreign countries and to work under the supervision of foreign scholars.
Homepage : http://physics.snu.ac.kr; http://astro.snu.ac.kr