The Department of Physics has divisions belonging to both the Science Faculty and the Engineering Faculty (LTH). The following are affiliated to LTH, where about 170 lecturers and researchers are engaged.
Scientists at Atomic Physics are pursuing research into the properties of atoms and molecules, mainly using advanced laser techniques. Lasers with outputs of the order of terawatts (1012 or a million million watts) are used to study how material and light interact at extremely high laser intensities. Areas of application can be found in medicine, IT and the environment. For example, methods are being developed for the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, new methods for optical data processing are being investigated, and air pollution is being measured with laser-radar techniques.
In the area of Combustion Physics, methods of measurement, mainly laser diagnostics, are being developed and used to determine the quality of and conditions in (e.g. temperature, concentrations) various combustion processes. Mathematical and chemical models of combustion processes are also being developed and used. The common goal is low fuel consumption and reduced emissions from engines, gas turbines, boilers, power plants, etc.
Mathematical Physics applies modern theories from mathematics and physics to physical, technical, medical and economic problems. Important areas of research include the theoretical understanding of the structure of the atomic nucleus and of nanometre systems, which will be the basis for the electronics and quantum computers of the future. Other areas of application are in economics (the flow of capital) and in medicine (e.g. the dynamics of the heart), as well as thermal analysis of the ground for heat storage and spent nuclear fuel storage.
Nuclear Physics is the study of the structure and properties of the atomic nucleus. At LTH research is directed towards ion-beam-based measurements, including the PIXE (proton-induced X-ray emission) method. Development is taking place in methods of measurement and optimization of ion optics. Applications can be found in geology, medicine, the environment and material modification. Research is also being carried out on aerosols (ultra-fine, airborne particles) in the atmosphere that affect the climate and our health.
Solid State Physics
Solid state physics and semiconducting materials are central areas in Solid State Physics. Researchers can make semiconductor structures by controlling individual atoms, and can study their physical and electronic properties. Matters of current interest include quantum physical phenomena in nanostructures, and the development of nano-electronics and biosensors. The main areas of application are nano-electronics, nano-optics and biomedicine.