Department : Location, History, Buildings


Duke University is located in the city of Durham in the state of North Carolina in the United States. Durham is one of the three important cities of North Carolina, the other two being Raliegh and Chapel-Hill. The nearest airport is called the Raleigh-Durham International airport with the code RDU. The Physics Department is located in a building on Science Drive. The Duke Chapel is a hisoric monument (see image on the right) and often is used as a symbol of Duke University.

Visiting the Department

Applicants are welcome to visit the department and meet with professors and discuss their research interests with them. In order to schedule a visit please contact the Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGSA).  In the months of March and April an open house is usually scheduled for accepted students. 


The Physics department was created in 1948. Below is the news article about the department that was published soon after its creation.

The Duke Physics Department, circa 1948

The Physics Department of Duke University offers exceptional opportunities to students working for advanced degrees, who want more individual attention and personal contacts than is generally possible at larger school.

Graduate students: The University provides nine fellowships and assistantships in physics carry stipends from $900 to $1200 per year.

A "new" building will be completed early in 1949
There were nine faculty members [Carpenter, Hatley, Gordy, Greuling, London (Chemistry & Physics), Newson, Nielsen (Chair), Nordheim (DGS), Smith, Sponer]. In addition, the department employed 6 technicians and a glassblower.

Since its inception, the number of faculty in the department  has grown to roughly 30 tenure-track faculty.  The department is now spread across four buildings (see below). The graduate student stipend has also increased substantially and considering the cost of living in Durham, it is among the best Physics Department stipends in the country.

Buildings of the Department

Main Building

The first building that was built in 1949 (see above) remains as the main building of the Physics Department. It currently houses both the Mathematics and the Physics Departments. Although this "old" building was extended in 1963, the departmental needs have outgrown it and currently the department is spread over three other nearby buildings. These include the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory (TUNL), the Free Electron Laser Laboratory (FELL) and the French Sciences Building.


Main Building in the Summer Main Building in the Fall Main Building in the Winter

Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory is a Department of Energy funded laboratory with research faculty from three major universities within the Research Triangle area: Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Located on the campus of Duke University behind the Physics department, TUNL draws additional collaborators from many universities in the southeast, as well as from labs and universities across the country and all over the world.

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The Offices The Laboratory The Patio (and what is it?)

The Duke FEL Laboratory is housed in a 52,000 square foot facility with the addition of the 13,000 square foot Keck Life Sciences Research Laboratory on the campus of Duke University in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Active areas of research at DFELL include FEL physics, nuclear physics, materials science, and biological and biomedical sciences.

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Front, with Trees Front, with Trees The Door
French Sciences Building

The $115 million, 280,000-square-foot building, French Family Science Center (FFSC) was completed in 2006. It features state-of-the-art research and teaching laboratories for genomics, biological chemistry, materials science, nanoscience, physical biology and bioinformatics. The building will bring together several Arts & Science disciplines under one roof, providing space for the departments of chemistry and biology, biological anthropology and anatomy, mathematics and physics.

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The FFSC (and also the Physics Building on the right) The back of the FFSC, and trees The side, near to the Physics Building