Engineering Physics - Grades 10 to 12

eng2Engineering Physics is the application of modern physics to problems in nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, energy supply, and many other areas – in other words, today’s most exciting engineering challenges. Our design tools are the particles that make up matter such as electrons, photons and neutrons. An understanding of how these objects behave and how they can be engineered is the key to an exciting engineering career that can make a real impact on society’s future. This program includes topics in electricity and magnetism, solar electricity, nanotechnology, and biomedical engineering. In this stream students will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of laboratory activities and explore current advancements in the application of physics.

McMaster's Engineering Physics Department

New Curriculum:

The Department of Engineering Physics specializes in Nanotechnology Engineering, Energy Systems Engineering, Photonics Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. As a participant in the Engineering Physics LEAP program, you will be involved in projects in all four of these areas. 

1) Nanotechnology Engineering

Devices that are constructed on the nanometer or micrometer scale are the technological backbone of modern society. Since the invention of the transistor in 1947 and the introduction of the integrated circuit in the early 1960’s, device components have continuously decreased in size and cost at an exponential rate, while increasing in speed and capabilities. The invention of fibre optic communications, essential for the internet, also relied on the development of optoelectronics, which is the study and application of electronic devices that generate, detect and control light. More recently, the fabrication techniques developed for the integrated circuit industry have also been extended to micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) which add tiny moving mechanical elements such as beams, gears, diaphragms, and springs that are used in inkjet-printers, accelerometers, inertial sensors, micro-mirrors, optical scanners, fluid pumps, and chemical, pressure and flow sensors. These rapid advances have transformed the worldwide economy and led to a more prosperous society. In the Department of Engineering Physics, we are applying nanotechnology and micro-systems engineering to develop the next generation of technologies in lasers, light emitting diodes, photodetectors, infrared cameras, displays, and photovoltaics (solar electricity), to name just a few.

In the Engineering Physics LEAP, you will explore the world of nanotechnology by exploring our cleanroom, seeing how nano-devices are made, and zooming in 100,000 times on the world of nanotechnology. 

2) Energy Systems Engineering

The Sun and stars are powered by nuclear fusion where heavier elements are combined to form lighter ones, releasing energy in the process. On Earth, this process is replicated in controlled nuclear fusion reactors, where the nuclear energy released is converted to electricity for human use. In nuclear engineering, we apply scientific principles, engineering design and analysis, and computer modeling and simulation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. McMaster University boasts a nuclear engineering program with a long and proud tradition. Situated on campus is the university’s very own fusion research reactor, providing many exciting and unique opportunities in the areas of reactor physics, nuclear safety analysis, advanced nuclear materials, and nuclear fuel and waste management.

We also conduct extensive research in photovoltaics (solar electricity) in which semiconductor devices are used to convert sunlight directly into electricity. The efficiency by which sunlight can be converted to electricity is approaching 50%, but only by using expensive materials and processes. We are exploring alternative methods of producing high efficiency and low cost solar electricity using nanotechnology and micro-systems engineering.   

In the Engineering Physics LEAP program, you will tour the nuclear fission reactor, explore a home-built fusion reactor, and explore the world of solar technology through hands-on projects.

3) Photonics Engineering

Photonics is the branch of science and engineering that deals with the generation, detection and application of light to provide useful applications for society. Photons are the quantum mechanical unit of light.  Photons play a central role in many technologies. In the past two decades, photonics engineering experienced explosive growth in fibre optic communications, where light is used to transfer information over great distances.  This formed the basis of the internet. The application of light also extends to many other industries such as medicine, displays, and sensors. Photonics is also beginning to play an increasing role in clean, renewable electrical energy generation through solar and thermal photovoltaics (solar electricity). Our research encompasses a wide spectrum of projects involving light sources, lasers and light emitting diodes, photodetectors, sensors, photovoltaics, and optical displays. We are also conducting research in biophotonics, a fast emerging field in which light is used for applications in medicine, biomedical engineering, life sciences, agriculture, and environmental science.
In the Engineering Physics LEAP program, you will explore the world of photonics by building your very own telecommunications system.

4) Biomedical Engineering

The Department of Engineering Physics specializes in biophotonics and biosensors. The term biophotonics denotes a combination of biology and photonics. Photonics is the science and technology of the generation, manipulation, and detection of photons, which are the quantum mechanical units of light. Biophotonics is the development and application of optical techniques, particularly imaging, to the study of biological molecules, cells and tissue. One of the main benefits of using optical techniques is that they preserve the integrity of the biological cells being examined. Biophotonics has therefore become the established general term for all techniques that deal with the interaction between biological items and photons. This refers to emission, detection, absorption, reflection, modification, and creation of radiation from biomolecules, cells, tissues, organisms and biomaterials. Our faculty are also involved in the development and application of micro- and nano-sensors for the detection of DNA, proteins, viruses, and other biological materials.

In the Engineering Physics LEAP program, you will explore biomedical engineering through hands-on biosensor and biophotonics projects.