/ Physics Department

Facilities and Classrooms

The physics department offices and labs are located in VanderWerf and Van Zoeren halls.

VanderWerf Hall

27 Graves Place Holland, MI 49423

VanderWerf is home to an extensive network of laboratories, computer development labs and a Pelletron particle accelerator, among many other technologies, used by computer science, physics, mathematics and engineering students. Recently completed in 2013, the Haworth Engineering Center promotes active faculty-student collaboration on research programs and design projects. Learn more.


Physics involves the curious examination of the world around us to understand why the universe works the way it does. That means we spend a lot of time in our labs and research facilities, from our general labs where you’ll learn analytical methods to one of our specialty labs, such as our our particle accelerator lab.

General Physics Lab
Here, you’ll start at the beginning. Students investigate mechanics, heat, electric circuits, quantum spectroscopy and optics. While performing experiments, you will learn analytical methods and use software that physicists employ in their research.
Advanced Lab
Our advanced lab is basically a training ground for research scientists. You'll perform a variety of experiments ranging from the classics, such as Cavendish's famous gravitation experiment, to experiments associated with current research, such as scanning electron microscopy and plasma spectroscopy.
Accelerator Lab

We use a particle accelerator in our ion beam analysis lab to explore not only the elemental composition of objects, but the location of these elements on the surface and near the surface of the object. The techniques developed in this facility are used by faculty and student researchers in biology, chemistry, geology and physics departments, and by several local industries.

Astrophysics Lab
The astrophysics laboratory is a room where students have access to two iMacs and a Mac desktop for performing research associated with the emission of X rays from the magnetosphere of high magnetic field neutron stars known as magnetars. The goal is to develop clear, correct and concise analytics describing the Compton scattering in strong magnetic fields.
Computational Physics Lab
In this lab, we model the physics of fluid and plasma systems by solving the beautiful and intricate equations that govern them. Students in this lab use state-of-the-hard equipment, including the high-powered PHASOR (Physics @ Hope: Advanced Scientific Operations in Research) computer built right here on campus! With these resources, we examine aspects of fundamental physics to achieve a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind processes such as heat transport and convection in the sun, magnetic reconnection in the Earth's atmosphere and properties of nuclear fusion confinement.
Materials Characterization Lab
The Materials Characterization lab houses three different instruments used by multiple research groups to study material surfaces and structures. The scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope are used to image surfaces at micrometer and nanometer scales. 
Nuclear Group Lab
Students working in the nuclear group lab engage in the development and construction of detectors for use in nuclear science experiments at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University and the ATLAS facility at Argonne National Labs (ANL). They also analyze data from experiments carried out at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Labratory and ANL, determining properties of previously unstudied nuclei that are currently "off the chart" — the chart of nuclides, that is, and nuclei that are involved in heavy element formation in star mergers and supernovae. 
Hope College is home to the Harry F. Frissel observatory, which houses a 12-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope equipped with an imaging CCD camera. The telescope/imaging system is used primarily as a teaching tool and is linked to a computer in the classroom where it can be controlled remotely and real-time images can be displayed. In addition, we have two 8-inch and one 10-inch portable Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes and a number of binoculars that are used for viewing out in the field as part of our Night Sky course.
Semiconductor material and Device Lab
We fabricate perovskite films such as FAPbBr3, CsPbBr3 and MAPbI3 and then examine their optical, morphological and structural properties using various characterization techniques. The perovskite films are fabricated using a spin coater placed inside a Nitrogen-filled glove box. The students who will work in this lab will learn hands-on experimental skills using the glove box and characterization skills using a scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope in the material characterization lab. As an advantage, students who perform exceptionally well will have the opportunity to visit the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Material Characterization Lab at the Material Research Institute at Penn State University for fabrication and characterization.
Superconductivity Lab 
We study the superconducting energy gap structure of various superconductors such as Copper-oxide and Fe-based superconductors. The low-temperature resistivity measurements are conducted down to 4 K using cryogen-free cryostat and high energy ion beams are used to control the property of superconductors. The students who work in this lab will learn hands-on experimental skills using cryostat and particle accelerator.