/ 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.

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. 
 Microwave Lab
Here, you’re able to take part in original research in condensed matter physics, plasma physics and engineering physics. In recent years, students have studied stratospheric gas processes that will help deepen understanding of atomic and molecular interactions in the earth’s atmosphere. They worked on the applicability of superconductivity to microwave electronics and electrically engineered photonic crystals. Students have collaborated across campus, with chemistry in plasma research and with the ion beam accelerator lab in superconductivity research.
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 National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at Michigan State University. They also analyze data from experiments carried out at the NSCL, determining properties of previously unstudied nuclei that are currently "off the chart" — the chart of nuclides, that is. 
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.
Surface Lab
The surface lab is used to understand and control the fabrication of metallic thin films and nanostructures. Applications for the materials developed in the lab range from earth-abundant batteries to catalysts. Scanning probe microscopes and electrochemistry techniques are used to explore the various facets of this research that spans the fields of physics, chemistry and materials science. Undergraduate researchers also collaborate with the ion beam analysis group to characterize the composition of the samples developed in the surface lab.