FIGURE 8–3 Total numbers of students of all nationalities receiving U.S. Ph.D.s in the prominent areas of physics, as a function of year. CMP, condensed matter physics; EPP, elementary particle physics; AMO, atomic, molecular, and optical; AA, astronomy and astrophysics; NP, nuclear physics; PL-FL, plasma and fluid dynamics. Total Ph.D.s/year in physics ranged from lows of about 1,240 in 1987 and 2003 to a high of 1,692 in 1994. SOURCE: Data from American Institute of Physics, Statistical Research Center, and the National Science Foundation.

Graduate students and postdocs in AMO science appear to respond very positively to the fact that, for the most part, experiments are still small enough that projects can be conducted by individuals or small groups. Students are therefore able to manage their entire projects nearly on their own, experiencing in full the diversity of the effort—an extremely valuable and highly sought-after training experience.

American Institute of Physics/NSF data (see Figure 8–3) indicate that over the last decade the United States produced about 1,200 Ph.D.s in physics and astronomy each year, of whom about 200 were in AMO science. This number is exceeded only by the condensed matter physics community. Per dollar spent, the AMO community is clearly quite productive in terms of training its next generation.

Information About New Modalities

Appendix F contains information from the agencies about new modalities for doing research. Like other very active areas of science, AMO has evolved substantially over the years in terms of ways the science is carried out. For example,

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