About us

Gravity wave detection

Department history

The Department of Physics was established in 1960 as part of the School of General Studies at The Australian National University with the aim of providing undergraduate teaching to complement the postgraduate teaching being undertaken by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS).

From its beginning, the Department of Physics has always combined research and teaching. Originally, the department's research had a strong nuclear physics focus, which has shifted over the years towards laser and atomic physics.

In 2008 the Department of Physics joined the Research School of Physics and Engineering, becoming the Department of Quantum Science. Teaching is now undertaken by the Physics Education Centre, drawing expertise in lecturing and research supervision from across RSPE.

Our people

The department is headed by Prof. David McClelland (gravitational wave research and the standard quantum limit), with a team of senior staff comprising Prof. Hans Bachor (quantum optics and spatial squeezing), Prof. Ping Koy Lam (quantum optics, quantum memory and quantum cryptography), Prof. John Close (Bose-Einstein condensation and atom lasers), Dr. Susan Scott (General Relativity), Dr. Craig Savage (fundamental quantum physics with atoms and light) and Dr. Anna Wilson (Nuclear Physics). In addition to our teaching activities, all senior staff pursue vigorous research programs in their respective fields.

Our academic staff are supported by a team of experienced and successful mid-career researchers working across each of the groups above, as well as an incredibly talented cohort of PhD, Masters and Honours students.

Our research

The flavour of our research is decidedly quantum. Our experimental groups have state-of-the-art research facilities, while our more theoretically minded people can rely on local supercomputer systems to provide their computing power

We also host a node of The Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology and the Centre for Gravitational Physics.

Here are some extracts from just some of our research pages:

"Our specific research interests include advanced interferometer configurations and control systems, measurement of thermal and quantum noise, quantum noise cancellation and QND techniques, data analysis, digital interferometry and frequency stabilization for LISA."
- Gravitational wave group

"The research interests of the quantum optics group are experimental quantum information, atom-light interactions, quantum metrology and non-linear optics."
- Quantum Optics

"We are interested in understanding and developing high brightness atom laser systems based on magnetically trapped atoms, including (1) producing a continuously pumped atom laser. (2) Coherent atom interferometry with an atom laser beam. (3) Producing and detecting squeezing in atom laser beams, including the development of single atom detectors. (4) Experiments utilising Bose-Einstein condensates with tunable interactions."
- BEC and atom lasers

"We investigate atom lasers, Bose-Einstien condensates (BEC), atom-light entanglement and quantum field theoretical techniques. We are also interested in investigating the feedback-based control of atom lasers and other high-dimensional quantum systems."
- Dr. Joseph Hope


Updated:  21 June 2021/ Responsible Officer:  Head of Department/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster