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Facilities

The Physics and Astronomy Department is located in Wilder Laboratory, one of four buildings which together comprise the Sherman Fairchild Physical Sciences Center. Also included within this centrally located facility are the departments of Chemistry, Earth Science and Environmental Studies.

Within Wilder, the department offers a broad array of facilities for physics research. There are several laser laboratories which cover a wide range of wavelengths (from the ultraviolet to the far infrared) and pulse widths (from continuous wave to mode-locked picosecond pulses), as well as a laser Raman lab.

The cryogenic and magnetic lab facilities include a wide assortment of optical access dewars, helium-3 and dilution refrigerators, SQUID devices and high-field superconducting magnets. Sample preparation and analysis facilities include x-ray diffraction analysis and thin-film vacuum deposition equipment.

The Beams and Radiation Laboratory in Wilder centers around a free-electron laser with a second under construction. These are used to generate coherent Cerenkov radiation over a wide range of wavelengths producing a unique, tuneable radiation source suitable for a variety of experiments.

Students whose research requires the use of off-campus facilities can take advantage of the the 2.4 m Hiltner and 1.3 m McGraw-Hill telescopes at Kitt Peak, Arizona, which are operated by a consortium consisting of Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and Ohio University. Dartmouth receives a total of 3 months of nighttime observing on each of these two telescopes per year, affording both undergraduate and graduate students extraordinary access and observing experience using world-class observing facilities, in addition to data obtained from satellites and national observatories.

Dartmouth also owns a 9% share of the 10-meter Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) which is the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. SALT became operational in mid-2011 and nearly all observations are done remotely via queue scheduling. SALT provides Dartmouth students and faculty guaranteed access to about three weeks of 10-meter telescope observing time per year and is a powerful complement to the MDM facilities for southern sky research.

Students involved in the experimental space physics program may travel to the Arctic and Antarctic for field work including rocket launches and ground-based remote sensing of the ionosphere.

On campus, graduate students can take advantage of a wide array of library, literature searching, and computing tools. The Kresge Physical Sciences Library, located in the Fairchild center, houses approximately 100,000 volumes and over 1,500 periodicals. The Dartmouth College Library, of which Kresge is part, houses over 2,000,000 volumes, and includes the Dana Biomedical Library, and the Feldberg Business and Engineering Library. The catalogs for the entire system may be searched through an on-line system which also provides access to the catalogs of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), and the Library of Congress, among others. Also housed in Kresge are such electronic and CD-ROM based research tools as the Science Citation Index.

Additional support facilities within the Fairchild Center include a fully staffed machine shop with computer-controlled machining capabilities. A short training course is offered in machine shop practice and safety procedures, and shop facilities are available for student use.

The Fairchild Center also houses an electronics shop offering computer aided design and simulation, circuit board fabrication, equipment repair services, and an electronics stockroom.

Computer facilities available to graduate students, both within Wilder Lab and as part of Dartmouth's Kiewit Computation Center include a wide array of linux/unix workstations, extensive Ethernet networks, and a variety of dedicated laboratory computers.

Other facilities on campus include the Rippel Electron Microscope Laboratory which houses a variety of scanning and transmission electron microscopes, and a class 100 clean room in the Thayer School of Engineering. Research collaborations with Thayer faculty, with other departments, and with industry provide graduate students at Dartmouth with valuable cross-disciplinary backgrounds.