Research

Studies in the programme are integrated with research performed by the teachers. A broad spectrum of characterisation, modification and growth methods is used for a large variety of materials. Examples of lines of materials research within the programme are:

  • Biological materials
  • Computer simulation of materials
  • Fusion reactor materials
  • Materials from synthetic polymers and natural polymers
  • Radiation effects on materials, including radiation protection aspects
  • Thin film materials

Experimental materials physics uses ion beams, x-rays and synchrotron light for fundamental and applied research. We use local particle accelerators at Kumpula campus as well as international large scale-facilities such as CERN, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, MAX-IV, JET, and ITER.

Using various kinds of ion beams has a long tradition in basic and applied research in experimental materials physics at the University of Helsinki. We are a member in the Finnish Centre of Excellence in ALD. The efforts are focused on study of fundamental and applied aspects of nanosystems and nanostructured materials, formed using ion and cluster beams. The key question is how surface and embedded nanostructures can be formed and modified at will to acquire the desired properties and functionality. The research based on energetic ion beams is linked to the physical processes taking place in solid matter during and after irradiation. We also have profound experience in materials characterization using ion beams.

Modern synchrotron light sources have revolutionized x-ray based materials research and we use these international large-scale facilities actively. We use all aspects of light-matter interactions for fundamental and applied research on materials. Most commonly we use x-ray imaging, inelastic x-ray scattering spectroscopy, x-ray scattering, as well as absorption and emission spectroscopies for studying materials physics and chemistry. Our local microtomography laboratory is used for three-dimensional nondestructive imaging of materials with sub-micrometer spatial resolution, and is used for studies on biological samples as well as soft and hard condensed matter. We use European Synchrotron Radiation Facility for advanced studies on the nanoscale and for inelastic x-ray scattering spectroscopy for studies of materials microscopic structure.
 

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In order to understand experimental results modeling of the studied phenomena is needed. Computational methods are used widely in the field of materials physics. The group of computational physics has in its use methods covering many time and length scales, starting from quantum mechanical calculations at atomic level and picosecond time scales and up to continuum modeling of materials and macroscopic times scales.

Initially modeling was used in connection with ion beam physics experiments that are far from the thermodynamical equilibrium. Currently, modeling is also used in many equilibrium phenomena.The group has in its disposal computer clusters located at the Kumupula campus area and the supercomputers at the Finnish IT center for science, CSC.

For more information see the group home page.

Researchers of medical physics is engaged in academic research, teaching and clinical physics support services. Medical physics is a branch of applied physics encompassing concepts, principles and methodology of physical sciences to medicine in clinics. Primarily, medical physics seeks to develop efficient and safe diagnosis and treatment methods for human diseases with highest quality assurance protocols. In Finland most medical physicists have the licensed profession of a hospital physicist.

Department of Physics has started an education program for Hospital Physicists in 1995. The program was updated in spring 2010. Hospital Physicist is a necessary expert in medical usage of radiation as required in the statute of the medical usage of radiation (423/2000). The specialist training of Hospital Physicist is defined in the statute of the University degree system (464/1998) and the modification for the statute of the examinations pertaining to the humanities and the natural sciences (834/2000).

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The Biological Physics Group focuses on the theory and simulations of biologically relevant soft matter systems. The work includes the development of theoretical and computational techniques for multiscale modeling, and applications of these methods to study a variety of biomolecular systems over a multitude of scales. Examples of research topics include biomembranes, membrane proteins, sugars, and DNA, and the interactions of these molecular complexes with drugs and other signaling molecules. The grand objective is to use theory and computer simulations for gaining new knowledge that promotes health. The research is strongly coupled to experimental collaborations. The group is a member of the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Biomembrane Research. 

Self-assembling responsive polymers, as well as amphiphilic functional ones are in the core of polymer research. In addition, various hybrid nanomaterials are gaining interest. We synthesize the polymers using modern controlled synthesis methods. Studies on chemical structures and solution/material properties of polymers are conducted using spectroscopic, scattering, and rheological methods. 

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Inorganic materials chemistry research centers in synthesis and characterisation of nanostructured materials: thin films, nanofibers and porous materials. Thin films form the most important topic with Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) as the most widely studied deposition method. Laboratory is worldwide in a leading position in developing ALD chemistry. The laboratory also heads the Finnish Centre of Excellence in ALD. ALD research is a balanced combination of basic and applied topics and covers basically all areas related to ALD: precursor synthesis and characterization, film growth and characterization, reaction mechanism studies, and the first steps of taking the processes toward applications.

Other thin film deposition techniques studied include electrodeposition, SILAR (successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction), electron beam evaporation, thermal evaporation and sol-gel. Nanostructured materials are prepared by either directly (fibers by electrospinning  and electroblowing, and porous materials by anodisation) or by combining these or other templates with the thin film deposition techniques.

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The Electronics Research Laboratory specializes in electronic and computerized measurement methods. The main emphasis is to develop methods suitable for the needs of the industry. To support these goals, our research work concentrates on several applied physics disciplines, the main areas being (laser)ultrasonics, photoacoustics, fibre optics and scanning white light interferometry.