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Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (AMO)

Everything in the universe is made out of stuff, and this stuff is either called "matter" or "antimatter". As far as we can tell, almost everything in the universe is made up of matter. AMO is all about the interactions between matter and more matter, or between matter and light.

Atomic physics studies the basic building blocks of the universe - atoms. Their focus is on the way electrons are arranged around the central nucleus of the atom, plus what, why, how and when these arrangements change. Despite popular belief, it doesn't include building nuclear weapons.

Molecular physics scales up a level from atomic physics, in that it looks at molecules (small collections of atoms). As the study of small groups of atoms and their interactions with other small groups of atoms, some molecular physicists like to joke that all of chemistry is simply a branch of molecular physics, and indeed the sciences are very closely related.

All visible light is a form of electromagnetic radiation, and such radiation of often simply referred to as "light", whether we can see it or not. Optical physics studies the ways in which light interacts with matter, and the effects these interactions have on both. Classic examples of optical physics include lasers and optical cables, from the invention of the devices themselves to the applications that have become possible with them.

Articles about atomic physics

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The ultimate fuel of science fiction, antimatter annihilates normal matter on contact and releases immense amounts of energy in the process - making it a somewhat tricky substance to study in a lab.
Delve deeper into antimatter

Blog posts about atomic physics

Our blog posts are often written by scientists about their ongoing research

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The Energy of Atoms (other than Hydrogen)
Thursday 22nd of October 2015
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Technicolor theory and the Higgs
Tuesday 24th of March 2015
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How big are atoms?
Friday 6th of February 2015
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The Quest for Invisibility
Friday 25th of July 2014

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