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

Quantum materials deliver a better world

The University of Adelaide has launched its Quantum Materials strategy with its focus on cutting-edge fundamental research and delivering new quantum-enabled technologies for a safer, wealthier and healthier world.

New Ramsay Fellows to lead physical sciences' research

The University of Adelaide’s newest Ramsay Scholars will conduct trailblazing research spanning computational materials science to novel statistical and machine learning for astrophysical phenomena. 

Adelaide influence in new South American gamma ray observatory

University of Adelaide researchers are part of an international team that aims to unlock the secrets of the universe above the southern hemisphere.


Physics events

Ramsay Fellowship Seminars

Hear about exciting research happening in the Faculty of Sciences from our Ramsay Fellows.

Physics Seminars - 2021

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

Physics Seminars - 2020

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


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.