Applied physics

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Experiment using a laser

Applied physics is physics which is intended for a particular technological or practical use.[1] Usually an applied physicist comes from either an engineering or physics background. It is not uncommon for physicist to do things labelled as a physicist but are really in the arena of applied physics.

"Applied" is distinguished from "pure" by a subtle combination of factors such as the motivation and attitude of researchers and the nature of the relationship to the technology or science that may be affected by the work.[2] It usually differs from engineering in that an applied physicist may not be designing something in particular, but rather is using physics or conducting physics research with the aim of developing new technologies or solving an engineering problem. This approach is similar to that of applied mathematics. In other words, applied physics is rooted in the fundamental truths and basic concepts of the physical sciences but is concerned with the utilization of these scientific principles in practical devices and systems.[3]

Applied physicists can also be interested in the use of physics for scientific research. For instance, the field of accelerator physics can contribute to research in theoretical physics by enabling design and construction of high-energy colliders.

Computer modeling of the space shuttle during re-entry

Examples of Research Areas in Applied Physics


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  1. "Applied Physics". ArticleWorld. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  2. "General Information on Applied Physics". Stanford Department of Applied Physics. Archived from the original on 7 March 2007. 
  3. "Department of Applied Physics / Major in Pure and Applied Physics". Waseda University. Retrieved 10 September 2011.