Research Activities

Research in the School of Physics is presented below in terms of Research Groups, some much larger than others. There are many interconnections between the Research Groups, and research links also extend beyond the School to many other Australian and international research organisations. See the Associated Research Groups for organisations with some of the closest links.

  • Applied and Plasma Physics
  • Astronomy & Astrophysics. Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA)
  • Biophysics
  • Brain Dynamics
  • Centre for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO)
  • Complex Systems
  • Condensed Matter Theory
  • Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS)
  • Fusion Plasmas
  • Institute of Medical Physics (IMP)
  • Institute of Photonics and Optical Sciences (IPOS)
  • Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA)
  • Particle Physics
  • Plasma Physics
  • Quantum Science
  • Space and Solar Physics
  • Sydney University Physics Education Research (SUPER)
  • Theoretical Physics

Research Group Research Activities

Applied and Plasma Physics

Applied and Plasma Physics


Research projects in these areas are a stimulating mix of fundamental physics and practical applications, in areas which include materials physics, plasma deposition and processing, thin film materials, vacuum glazing, renewable and sustainable energy and cross-disciplinary research in the areas of biointerfaces and interactions of biosystems for medicine.

Astronomy & Astrophysics - The Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA)


The staff and students of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy pursue theoretical and observational research across a wide range of astrophysics. From the centre of the Sun to the edge of the Universe, this program utilizes the latest technologies and techniques. These include the School's own radio telescope, the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST), and the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI) which is a major element of a broad program of high resolution optical imaging.



The Biophysics Group is involved in modeling of biomolecules using a variety of simulation methods on fast supercomputers. Our aim is to understand the function of proteins and especially those that have medical and pharmacological significance. The current areas of focus are ion channels and protein interactions.

Brain Dynamics


The Brain Dynamics group is an interdisciplinary team with backgrounds in physics, engineering, mathematics, IT, psychology, physiology, medicine, and other areas. Its aim is to understand the connections between physiology and stimuli, on one hand, and resulting brain activity and experimental data, on the other. To achieve these aims, we develop and apply physiologically-based models of brain activity, and subsequent measurement processes.




CAASTRO is the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics. By answering fundamental questions about the nature of the Universe, by developing innovative ways of processing enormous data-sets, and by providing a diverse set of opportunities for students and young researchers, CAASTRO aims to establish Australia as the world-leader in wide-field astronomy. CAASTRO is uniting the world’s top astronomers in a focused collaborative environment, and is changing the way we understand the Cosmos. CAASTRO is headquartered within the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA) within the School of Physics at The University of Sydney, with additional nodes at The University of Western Australia, The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, Curtin University and The Swinburne University of Technology.


Complex Systems


The Complex Systems Group draws together researchers with interests in complex natural or artificial systems - Brain DynamicsSpace & Solar PhysicsPlasma Physics and Astrophysics. The Group's research in these areas is primarily theoretical and computational, with strong interactions with experimentalists, observers, and industry.

Condensed Matter Theory


Research in Condensed Matter Theory focuses on ab initio investigations of materials and surface science phenomena. First-principles electronic structure calculations are used in conjunction with high performance computing to probe chemical reactions at interfaces and explore the energetics, atomic, electronic, and magnetic properties of polyatomic systems. Our goal is to acquire a detailed understanding of the fundamental science to engineer and design complex materials.



The Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) has a vision to be an international leader in nonlinear photonics and microphotonics. Our mission is to demonstrate all-optical processing applications and devices for ultra-high bandwidth optical telecommunications systems. These derive from fundamental research in the most exciting and vibrant areas of photonics science-non-linear optical materials, photonic crystals, micro-structured optical fibres and micro-photonics. CUDOS@Sydney is a major centre of the national CUDOS Centre of Excellence which combines the expertise of researchers at the University of Sydney, ANU, Macquarie University, Swinburne University, the University of Technology Sydney and CSIRO.


Fusion Plasmas


Fusion energy research in the School of Physics focuses on Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC). This approach enables fusion to be carried out on a bench top while still enabling the physics of larger fusion devices to be studies.


Institute of Medical Physics (IMP)


The Institute of Medical Physics provides a focus for all research and teaching activities within the School that are related to Medical Physics. Research activities include: Radiation Physics and Dosimetry; applications of PET/CT and SPECT; Monte Carlo Radiation Transport; Radiotherapy verification; Radiobiology and Radiation Biophysics; and Bio-acoustics.

Institute of Photonics and Optical Sciences (IPOS)


The Institute of Photonics and Optical Sciences draws together research and teaching expertise across the Schools of Physics, Electrical and Information Engineering, Mathematics, Chemistry and the Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis (ACMM) . Research spans all areas of fundamental and applied optics and photonics.

Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA)


The Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) develops leading-edge research and applications for environmental and broader sustainability issues, bringing together expertise in environmental science, economics, technology, and social science.

Particle Physics


The Particle Physics research program involves participation in overseas collaborative experiments (at CERN in Europe and KEK in Japan) and Australian-based programs of simulations, development and testing, and the analysis of results. The University of Sydney's Particle Physics Group is also a member of the newly establishedARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale.


Plasma Physics


Research in Plasma Physics includes complex (dusty) plasmas, gas discharge plasmas, quantum plasmas, space and astrophysical plasmas, as well as plasma technologies.

Quantum Science


Quantum Science constitutes a new frontier in physics that aims to understand, control, and exploit quantum phenomena to create revolutionary new science and technology. At The University of Sydney, the School of Physics is at the forefront of this new scientific endeavour with the experimental and theoretical work done by the Quantum Science research group in atomic physics, mesoscopic physics, quantum control theory, quantum information theory, and quantum foundations.

Space & Solar Physics


 Space Physics studied here ranges from Earth's ionosphere to the Sun's surface to the outer boundaries of the heliosphere and solar system. It includes the solar corona and solar wind (sometimes called the interplanetary medium), the ionospheres and magnetospheres of Earth and the other planets, and the "Space Weather" that results from interactions between the Sun and Earth.

Sydney University Physics Education Research Group (SUPER)


The SUPER program promotes research into physics education, and aims to encourage the implementation, inside and outside the university, of the findings of research in physics education.

Theoretical Physics


The Theoretical Physics group concentrates its research on the physics of astrophysical plasmas. Most members are also affiliated with the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA).