Research in physics

Research at the Department of Physics focuses on scientifically important current topics. The Department’s strong fields of research include particle physics, astrophysics and space physics, astronomy, materials physics, nanophysics and biophysics. The research results are published in high-quality international scientific publication series.

Browse a selection of the highlights of the research conducted at our department!

Our departmental colloquium series is intended to cut across subfields, with interesting and thought-provoking talks about physics. Read more from our colloquium website.


Research areas and groups:

The division of materials physics studies all types of materials from hard metals to organic materials. We conduct research in close cooperation with major scientific projects, such as ITER and CERN, as well as with university hospitals and private enterprises.

Researchers at the Helsinki Accelerator Laboratory study questions related to materials physics, but the accelerators are also used for environmental research and radiocarbon dating. Further information about the Helsinki Accelerator Laboratory and its operations is available on the laboratory’s website.

The X-ray Laboratory specialises in the study of materials with the help of X-rays from conventional laboratory sources, as well as synchrotrons and x-ray free-electron lasers. The laboratory’s versatile equipment enables extremely precise imaging and analysis of materials structure on multiple length scales in a non-destructive manner, from the the atomic and nanoscale to macroscopic large objects with micrometer resolution. We use various sophisticated x-ray scattering, imaging, and spectrosocpy tools. 

The Electronics Research Laboratory specialises in the development and implementation of electronic and computerised measurement techniques. The laboratory’s research focuses especially on the development of techniques suitable for industrial use. Further information about research is available on the laboratory’s website.

In materials physics simulations, the behaviour of ions, electrons, neutrons and plasma are studied with the help of irradiation. The research is of an international nature and is carried out with key collaboration partners such as ITER, CERN and FAIR. Learn more about simulation research on the group’s website.

Multidisciplinary biological and soft matter physics focuses on the theory and modelling of soft and dense matter. The latest research results and computational techniques are used in modelling. Read more about the field on the research groups’ websites.

Medical physics is a branch of applied physics, which seeks to improve the quality of medical and clinical applications. The goal of research is to ensure that medical professionals have access to the best possible information and tools to improve diagnostics and treatment.

Didactic physics aims to develop the learning and teaching of physics. It is a multidisciplinary research field that combines psychology of learning, cognitive science and philosophy of science. The research results are applied, for example, in teacher education

The research carried out by the division of particle physics and astrophysics spans a continuum of topics, covering experimental and theoretical particle physics, theoretical and observational cosmology, astrophysics, solar system physics and space physics, including the impact of solar activity on the solar system.

Particle physics and astrophysics research at the University of Helsinki is closely networked with national and international research institutes. In Finland, research cooperation with the theoretical and particle physics programmes of the Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP) is particularly comprehensive. The Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO (FINCA) is an important national collaborator in Finland.

On the international arena, we collaborate with some of the most significant players in the field across country and disciplinary boundaries.

The experimental particle physics group participates in the CMS and TOTEM experiments at the LHC of CERN.

Detectors for particle physics are developed and built in the Detector Laboratory. The division also participates in the development of new detector technology for the proposed electron-positron linear collider CLIC.

The observational cosmology group was involved in the European Space Agency’s Planck mission and is also involved in the preparations for the future Euclid mission.

Astrophysics is a multidisciplinary research area. At the University of Helsinki, research focuses on interstellar matter and star formation, stellar magnetic activity, galaxy formation and evolution, and planetary science.

The astrophysics research group at the University of Helsinki studies Sun–Earth physics and space weather. We develop numerical simulations of the Sun’s corona, the heliosphere and the Earth’s magnetosphere and make extensive use of measurements by the probes of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Theoretical particle physics research covers a wide range of topics related to quantum field and thread theories. The research focuses on both the structure of theories and phenomenology, ie the world of particle phenomena.

In the field of cosmology we study the properties of the early universe. Areas of interest include temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background, inflation patterns, dark energy, and fiber cosmology.