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Physics Portal


Building the Collection at O'Neill Library

Starting point for Physics research

More on Collections

For more information about how the library collections at Boston College are being developed, go to the Collections page.

O'Neill Library Physics Collection Emphases

The physics collection supports the instructional and research needs of the Boston College Department of Physics at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral level. Materials collected cover the major areas of physics, including mechanics; atomic physics; constitution and properties of matter (molecular physics, relativity, quantum theory, and solid state physics, etc.); heat and thermodynamics; optics; electricity and magnetism; plasma physics; nuclear and particle physics; and other areas.

Particular collection strengths reflect the areas of emphasis in the department's research agenda.   Depending upon the researcher and/or the project, work in the Physics Department takes either a theoretical or experimental approach.

Theoretical research covers plasma instabilities in lower dimensional solid state systems; nanostructures and quantum dots for ultrafast computing; collective phenomena at surfaces of solids; theory of high temperature superconductivity; Fermi liquid theory; strongly correlated electron systems; computational physics; theory of novel electron materials; quantum Hall effect; heavy fermion compounds; quantum magnetism and electronic transport in high magnetic fields; thermoelectric transport in novel semiconductor materials; theory of strongly coupled Coulomb systems; space and atmospheric physics, among other areas.

Experimental research covers scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy on novel electronic materials; strongly correlated electron systems; materials physics; single crystal growth, film deposition, and bulk processing of high temperature superconducting materials; processing and physics of giant magnetoresistive materials; synthesis and characterization of superhard materials; low temperature condensed matter physics; materials in strong magnetic fields, nanostructured superconductors, heavy fermion superconductors; thermoelectric materials; physics and chemistry of quasi one and quasi two dimensional electron systems; low temperature, high magnetic field electrical and magnetic properties of organic conductors and superconductors, anisotropic torque and magnetotransport measurements; commensurability resonances and spin density wave states; solid state spectroscopy of laser-type materials, luminescence spectroscopy, flash photolysis and molecular spectroscopy, photoacoustics, femtospectroscopy; optical properties of low-dimensional and organic semiconductors; modulation spectroscopy, among other areas.

Rare Early Physics Works in the Burns Library

Cover of Principia from Burns Library page

In recent years, the Burns Library staff, working in close consultation with faculty in the Physics Department, have made a concerted effort to acquire more early scientific works.  Most notable amongst these acquisitions was the 2010 addition of a rare first edition of Newton's Principia (Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica).  Other important works are also available for research, including:

  • A third edition of the Principia.
  • A first edition of Galileo's Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno alle macchie solari e loro accidenti :  comprese in tre lettere scritte all'illvstrissimo signor Marco Velseri ... /  dal signor Galileo Galilei ... ; si aggiungono nel fine le lettere, e disquisizioni del finto Apelle [Christoph Scheiner]. In Roma: Appresso Giacomo Mascardi, MDCXIII [1613]. This pioneering work on the subject of sun spots and inertia was a gift of Wega and Angelo Firenze, Belmont, MA, from the library of Wega's father, acclaimed physicist Pasquale Sconzo.
  • A number of key scientific works by Copernicus, Clavius, Kircher, Scheiner.

E-Books for Physics

The Physics book collection is composed primarily of print titles.  E-book purchasing is limited almost exclusively to reference resources used for fast, desktop look-up of data or information.  For more information on e-book selection, in general, at Boston College, see Selection Criteria and the E-Books at Boston College guide. 

Help Us Build the Collections

Please feel free to recommend items for the library collections by e-mailing Nancy Curtis, Physics Librarian, Boston College.