Research within the School of Physics

For a list of recent research publication highlights within UCD School of Physics, click here.


Thomas Preston Centre for Fundamental Physics

The Thomas Preston Centre brings together researchers working on fundamental physics across the broad spectrum of physics.

Centre for Physics in Health and Medicine

The CPHM aims to create a multi-disciplinary environment of researchers to lead the translation of fundamental physics understanding and emerging state-of-the-art technologies into health and clinical applications.

High-Energy Astrophysics

Research includes the search for and characterisation of galactic and extragalactic very high energy gamma-ray sources with the VERITAS telescope array, the study of gamma-ray bursts using space and ground-based telescopes such as Watcher, INTEGRAL, and developing novel imaging and focusing techniques for gamma-ray astronomy. Relativity theory involves the exact solutions of Einstein’s equations, gravitational wave propagation, high-frequency gravitational waves and bursts of radiation. For more information, contact Prof John Quinn.

Atomic, molecular and plasma

Innovative research includes developing, characterising and modelling extreme UV sources for applications in UV lithography for next generation semiconductor manufacturing, imaging nano/molecular structures, studying molecular dynamics by ultrafast laser imaging techniques, and studying double photoionisation with synchrotron radiation. Cutting-edge collaboration continues with Intel Ireland, Intel Components Research, USA and the group continues to create innovation from research by invention, collaboration, and company spin-out activity. For more information, contact Prof Padraig Dunne.

Condensed Matter Physics 

Our research interests cover electronic, magnetic and photonic properties of materials and nanoscale structures. The condensed matter physics group at UCD works on wide ranging topics at the forefront of modern physics research, including chiral magnetic systems, semiconductor quantum dot devices and spintronics, molecular electronics, and topological quantum matter. We use quantum theoretical techniques, many-body theory and renormalization group methods, atomistic and coarse-grained molecular simulations, to understand the effect of interactions in hard and soft matter at the nanoscale and in new materials. We also use methods of statistical physics to study self-organisation in complex biological systems and variety of non-equilibrium phenomena including collective behaviour. For more information, contact Dr Andrew Mitchell.


We perform fundamental physical research in the field of biological materials. The group has a world-class expertise in a variety of experimental and theoretical techniques. Novel methods are being developed to study complex biological macromolecules and proteins to further understand biological issues from photosynthesis to Alzheimers disease and CJD, and toxicity of nanomaterials. Research includes atomic force microscopy, surface plasmon polariton excitation, Raman spectroscopy, measuring intercellular forces, laser-optical imaging for unravelling live cell signalling and molecular modelling and simulation. For more information, contact Prof Dominic Zerulla.

Particle Physics 

Access to large-scale experiments at CERN is provided. Research includes top-quark and Higgs-boson physics with CMS at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, building the LHCb detector and measuring Z and W cross-sections at 7 TeV to 1%, and testing the Standard Model to 1% from the ratio of Z/W cross-sections. For more information, please contact Prof Ronan McNulty or Prof Martin Grunewald.


The radiation laboratory specialises in measuring minute traces of artificial and natural radionuclides in the environment and is equipped with state-of-the-art high-resolution alpha gamma and x-ray spectrometry, and low-level beta spectrometry. Research activities also include Radioecology and Medical Physics, neutron spectroscopy and dosimetry in medical accelerators, accelerator mass spectrometry and nuclear microprobes, and environmental physics studies. For more information, contact Prof Luis Leon Vintro.

Theoretical and Computational Physics

Research in theoretical physics at UCD spans many subject areas, including condensed matter, quantum theory, nano-bio, nanoelectronics, and particle physics. Computational physics, whether calculations or simulations, forms a key part of modern research. Indeed, experiment and theory advance complimentary aspects of our understanding of the complexity of the natural world. Computational studies make the link between new theoretical concepts, and experimental observations of new phenomena. For more information, contact Prof Valdimir Lobaskin.