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Professor Golovchenko has had a broad research career, working in academia, at Harvard and Aarhus University in Denmark, in industry, at Bell Labs, in national laboratories at Brookhaven and Livermore and at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. He is also a member of the Rowland Institute for Science, an interdisciplinary nonprofit basic research institute in Cambridge. These affiliations have helped his students obtain broad perspectives on research and opportunities for furthering their careers when they graduate from Harvard.

Professor Golovchenko's research focuses on revealing and understanding the basic physics involved when various forms of radiation interact with atomic and condensed matter systems. He performs experiments where highly controlled electron, positron, atom, x-ray, ion and laser beams are used to reveal new phenomena connected with the radiation-matters system. Such experiments lead to the development of new probes to study matter and new techniques to modify and transform it into new forms.

Recently Professor Golovchenko has applied these and other methods to create nanopores in solid state membranes capable of electronically detecting single  polymeric molecules like DNA. Research efforts are also being focused on developing nanotube materials for applications in atom detection and wave guiding, electronic devices and biophysics applications. Students in Professor Golovchenko's group get a broad exposure to the most advanced experimental tools and methods as well as the opportunity to express their experimental and theoretical creativity in problems of importance in pure and applied science. Specific areas of research pursued include Bose condensation by laser cooling, de Broglie atom wave optics of ultra cold atoms, annihilation in flight of MeV positrons as a probe of atomic scale magnetic structure, electronic sequencing of DNA in atomic scale solid state nanopores, X-ray optics in curved space, atomic scale properties of semiconductor surfaces in ultra high vacuum environments using tunneling microscopy, ion channeling and molecular beam epitaxy.