Department of Fundamental & Theoretical Physics

Fundamental and Theoretical physics underpins most of modern research in physical sciences. The purpose of the Department of Fundamental & Theoretical Physics is to provide a platform for theoretical and computational physicists across various disciplines to exchange about theoretical concepts and tools, while fostering deep connections with other Departments and Schools. Its missions are to:

  • Conduct formal research in theoretical and mathematical physics
  • Develop modelling of complex systems using supercomputers and visualisation
  • Provide guidance and support to experimental programs
  • Enhance theoretical physics impact on our society through education and outreach

The Department performs research at the highest international levels in theoretical and computational physics, pushing the boundaries of modern physics in areas such as quantum field theory, the quantum many-body problem, and nonlinear systems.

The Department actively contributes to education through teaching and convening undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Mathematics and Physics. It is also responsible for the organisation of the annual Canberra International Physics Summer School.

Our research groups

Nonlinear physics centre

Nonlinear physics centre is engaged in theoretical and experimental interdisciplinary research in several diverse areas unified by the general concepts of nonlinear physics and photonics. This involves metaphotonics, nonlinear nanophotonics, topological photonics, harmonic generation, as well as the study of active metastructures and metasurfaces.

» Explore our non-linear physics research centre

Quantum optics and quantum many-body systems group

We specialise in understanding and utilising the quantum properties of light and matter. Lasers are arguably humanity's highest precision technology, and trapped laser-cooled atoms and ions can be highly controlled and isolated from their environment. This makes them a playground for understanding a range of quantum phenomena, as well as precision measurement devices in their own right.

» Explore our quantum optics and quantum many-Body systems research group

Applied topology and geometry group

Physical interactions between objects fundamentally depend on the geometry of their configurations and the topology of the space they are in. Our research develops the mathematics, algorithms and analysis methods for computing topological quantities from data, and explores the physical insights this brings.

» Explore our applied topology and geometry research group

Subatomic physics group

We address fundamental questions such as the origin of Dark Matter and how it interacts with atoms and nuclei. We also develop quantum many-body modelling of subatomic systems to study fundamental processes, such as quantum tunnelling in nuclear fusion and fission, and in interacting electrons exposed to laser fields.

» Subatomic physics research group

Mathematical physics group

The current interests of the mathematical physics group, which spans the Department of Fundamental and Theoretical Physics and the Mathematical Sciences Institute, are primarily in the fields of exactly solved models in statistical mechanics and quantum field theory and in mathematical aspects of string theory and conformal field theory.

» Explore our mathematical physics research group

Optical sciences group

The Optical Sciences Group performs studies in extreme events, rogue waves and soliton theory. These are considered to be the most important discoveries in the twentieth and twenty first centuries mathematical and experimental physics.

» Explore our optical sciences research group


Simenel, Cedric profile

Head, Fundamental & Theoretical Physics

Administrator, Fundamental & Theoretical Physics

Updated:  8 February 2023/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster