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

Trapping atoms to protect Australia’s groundwater

A unique new facility at the University of Adelaide will help protect Australia’s precious groundwater from overuse and contamination.

Spaghetti and mud pies scoop 3-Minute Thesis final

The depth and diversity of research student projects in the Faculty of Sciences was once again on display at this week's final of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.

Adelaide scientist wins ‘bronze’ at global neurophotonics event

A project to map the hearing capability of zebrafish has won Mengke Han third prize at the global Frontiers in Neurophotonics’ summer school.

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Physics events

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.

Open Day - Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing

Celebrate the fantastic research being conducted at IPAS, and explore the opportunities for summer scholarships, honours and PhD research.

Research Tuesdays: Quantum of Promise

JULY 9: Unlikely as it sounds, quantum physics is as much a part of our daily lives as a morning coffee. University of Adelaide researchers are at the field’s cutting edge. They’re excited about the possibilities. And after this awe-inspiring presentation, you’ll understand why.

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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.