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Alan Bristow

Associate Chair of Graduate Studies and Research; Professor

Condensed Matter Experiment / Photonics / Light-Matter Interactions


Prof. Bristow received his Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield in 2004. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto from 2003 to 2006, a Research Associate at JILA from 2006 to 2010 and an Adjunct Instructor at the Colorado School of Mines in 2009. He joined the department in 2010 and served as the Associate Chair from 2019 to 2021.

Prof. Bristow was on sabbatical at the Technical University of Dortmund in 2017 and 2018. He has been an Associate at National Institute of Standards and Technology since 2017 and an Associate Editor for Optical Materials Express since 2018. He is a member of Optica (formerly OSA) and the American Physical Society.

Prof. Bristow is a member of the ECAS Climate Group and is active in community engagement around the issues of climate change policy and research. For example, see his op-ed on the 2021 COP26 meeting being a call for local action .


Prof. Bristow has taught the following courses: *Current course(s)

  • PHYS-112 – University Physics II (with calculus)
  • PHYS-211 – Introduction to Mathematical Physics
  • PHYS-321 – Optics
  • *PHYS-333/334 – Electricity & Magnetism I/II
  • PHYS-479/779 – UG/Grad Laboratory Research (in the Ultrafast Nanophotonics Group)
  • PHYS-771 – Introduction to Solid State Physics
  • PHYS-772 – Semiconductor Physics
  • PHYS-774 – Optical Properties of Solids
  • PHYS-791 (Special Topics) – Laser Phys ics and Quantum Optics

In addition to teaching lecture courses, Prof. Bristow mentors undergraduate and graduate students in research activities. He has graduated Ph.D. students whom have gone on to be postdoctoral researchers at top-tier research schools, visiting professors at liberal arts colleges, and employees in industrial and government lab positions.


Prof. Bristow leads the Ultrafast Nanophotonics Group, using short laser pulses to determine coherent and dynamic properties of charge and spin carriers in condensed matter. Light-matter interactions provide insight into new physics at the nanoscale and prove to be useful tools for characterizing materials with potential for applications in electronics, photonics , and spintronics. A growth area is in solar-energy harvesting for electricity and chemical catalysis. This work is currently funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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Selected Journal Publications

Full List: Google Scholar