Physics Research

Our physics research captures international attention in the world's best research journals, as we collaborate with national and international partners on cutting-edge global physics projects.

  • We explore the fundamental studies of the structure of sub-atomic matter, and develop novel optical and photonic systems for a wide range of applications.
  • We investigate the upper atmosphere using a network of sites that stretch from the equator to the Antarctic.
  • We analyse the structure of the universe under, above and beyond the earth through our astrophysics and geophysics programs.
  • We aim to improve healthcare through our medical physics research.

Our recent highlights include the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN; the discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO; and the discovery of astrophysical neutrinos by IceCube.

Research strengths

Our scientists work across the following multidisciplinary themes. Across all themes, our research has been rated by Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) as:

  • Well above world standard: Astronomical and space sciences; Atomic, molecular, particle and plasma physics; Optical physics

Data science & super-computing

Modern science meets technology. Modelling complex systems and analysing big data to apply expertise to complicated environmental, social and financial systems.

Environmental sensing

Using lasers and optical fibres to measure time and materials in the Earth to improve the accuracy of mining; and to forensically examine archaeological and palaeontological sites.

High-energy astrophysics & extreme astronomy

Studying extreme processes in astrophysics through observation of highly energetic cosmic rays, gamma rays, neutrinos and gravitational waves.

High-energy particle physics

Searching for the Higgs particle, dark matter, supersymmetry, extra dimensions and, quite generally, new physical laws.

Medical physics

Improving clinical radiotherapy and medical imaging, and exploring future clinical applications of proton therapy.

Image courtesy Dr Michael Douglass

Optics, lasers & photonics

New photonic technologies for scientific, industrial, mineral, environmental, agricultural and medical applications.

Space & atmospheric physics

Exploring Earth from the ground up. From weather and climate, to solar events which affect power lines, radar surveillance, telecommunications and space vehicles.

Theoretical physics

Exploring fundamental quantum field theories of the Standard Model of the Universe.

Defence and Security

Using physics to enhance and improve Australia's defence and security

Physics news

$7m boost for sciences research

ARC Discovery projects showcase the dynamic breadth of sciences research at the University of Adelaide.

Scientists in the news this week: October 2020

‘What even is the economy?’ Citymag has published a three-part series on ‘how SA makes money and stuff’ featuring several University of Adelaide scientists and science graduates.

Peter Veitch receives Australia's most prestigious scientific research award

Professor Peter Veitch has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his involvement in one of the greatest scientific discoveries of this century.


Physics events

Physics Seminars - 2020

A summary of seminars and events hosted by the Department of Physics at the University of Adelaide.

Public lecture - Universal Science

Spend an evening with an internationally diverse set of scientists who will answer questions about particle physics and high-performance distributed computing.

Physics Seminar: Dr Helen Maynard-Casely

Our solar system contains a great array of small planetary bodies that show remarkable variability in the chemistry, and subsequent materials, that form on their surfaces.


Study options

Explore the honours and PhD options within the school.

Find a researcher

Search our research database for experts and supervisors.

Partner with us

Learn how we can help you solve your scientific problems.