Department of Physics
The Department of Physics has a strong research focus and history in the three main fields of nuclear physics, laser physics and theoretical physics. In addition to its own well-developed laboratories, research is performed in collaboration with national institutes such as the iThemba LABS, the CSIR National Laser Centre and the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP). An active and vibrant researcher cohort ensures that the SU Physics department has established itself as one of the best research focused Physics departments in the country. The large number of quality publications forthcoming from the department plays testimony to the quality of research being performed.
The Physics Department is host to a South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) research chair in Photonics, Ultrafast and Ultra intensive Laser science, as well as the newly established CSIR Research Chair in Quantum, Optical and Atomic physics.
FIELDS OF RESEARCH
The following themes are covered:
- Theoretical and experimental investigation of nuclear structure and nuclear reactions.
- Development of techniques to monitor environmental radiation.
- Studies of the impact of radiation on human tissue.
Theorists specialise in a range of fields. Questions addressed by members of the ITP range from considering fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics, the behaviours of solitons, statistical interpretation of large data sets and theoretical considerations of physics in biological systems at the cellular level.
Laser physics (Laser Research Institute)
The Laser Research Institute offers a unique opportunity in South Africa for honours, master's and PhD studies in laser-based research. The projects on which our postgraduate students gain hands-on experience include measurement of ultrafast reactions in new types of solar cells, trapping and controlling single ions to test quantum theory, generation and manipulation of light pulses with unique properties using nonlinear optics, and development of laser techniques to study biological samples.