Research of Physics and Astronomy

Main research fields of the Department are material physics, quantum mechanics, and astronomy and space research.

Main research areas of Department of Physics and Astronomy

Turku Centre for Quantum Physics

The Centre (TCQP) was founded in September 2009 and currently it consists of five research groups at the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It coordinates the shared activities of the participating groups and provides a unified background for teaching of quantum mechanics. TCQP is a joint activity between Laboratory of Quantum Optics, Laboratory of Theoretical Physics and Wihuri Physical Laboratory.

Centre of Excellence in Quantum Technology

This Academy of Finland centre of excellence ( aims to introduce novel approaches for control of quantum systems in order to develop technologies within quantum sensing, simulation, communication and computation. Quantum Technologies group, led by Prof. Sabrina Maniscalco, provides its theoretical expertise and collaborates with research groups from Aalto University and VTT.


This Horizon-2020 (EU FET) project, coordinated by Prof. Sabrina Maniscalco, deals with the production and launch of massively-collaborative online video games solving research tasks in quantum technologies by means of hybrid human-computer interaction, complemented with machine learning algorithms. More info from here.

Non-Markovian processes and complex systems

Theory of open quantum systems is an important and active area of modern quantum physics. Adjunct professor Jyrki Piilo with this group is studying how decoherence - the loss of quantum properties and information within small physical systems - happens when open system interacts with their environments. We are interested in how to characterize different dynamical features, e.g. non-Markovian memory effects,  and how to control and exploit these in fundamental tests of quantum physics and in applications to quantum technologies. Going from quantum optical to complex systems, we are interest in the realization of complex quantum networks, how quantum dynamics occurs within these networks, and how they can be used in the open system context. Having a more cross-disciplinary nature, we also work on developing statistical tools for the general field of network theory and use these methods and concepts in a data driven research on complex socio-economic systems. 

Dynamic response of organic molecules

In the research project of the Academy of Finland, led by Prof. Edwin Kukk, we follow, in the femto and picosecond timescales, the dynamic response of organic molecules to the x-ray or UV radiation. The purpose is to understand the nature of these omnipresent processes at a fundamental level, and at the same time to obtain insight into their practical consequences, such as the deterioration of materials under the influence of radiation (light).

Molecular mechanisms of radiosensitizers used in cancer therapy

In Prof. Edwin Kukk's project we study what kind of molecular-level mechanisms are at play when the so-called radiosensitizer-molecules are used in cancer therapy. One of the goals here is to find new, more efficient molecular compounds.


Studies on surfaces of semiconductor crystals

Docent Pekka Laukkanen studies and modifies surfaces of solids such as semiconductor crystals experimentally in order to decrease surface-related losses in the material applications.

Quantum mechanical simulations of matter

Professor Kalevi Kokko studies properties of matter using quantum mechanical simulations. The result is, for example, computational models that can be used to tune the properties of materials to fit better to the extreme conditions.

The Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space, FORESAIL (2018-2025)

FORESAIL is a consortium of four research groups led by the University of Helsinki, which concentrates on the research of space radiation and its effects on technology, and develops novel de-orbiting technologies suitable for small satellites to counter the ever increasing amount of space debris in near-Earth space. Professor Rami Vainio acts as the vice-director of FORESAIL and leads the Instruments team of the unit.

Space Radiation Expert Service Centre

Space Radiation Expert Service Centre is a project under the Space Situational Awareness programme of the European Space Agency, where we develop empirical data-driven models for predicting space radiation conditions. The project is led in Turku by Prof. Rami Vainio.

Towards Electron-scale Modelling of space Plasmas

We develop numerical models for particle acceleration and transport processes in the FORESAIL Centre of Excellence and in the Academy project "Towards Electron-scale Modelling of space Plasmas". The models are applied especially in investigations of solar eruptions and near-Earth space environment. The projects are led by professor Rami Vainio and senior researcher Alexandr Afanasiev.

Astrophysical transients

The main research interests of the group focus on observational work on extragalactic astrophysical transients. Supernovae are among the most energetic phenomena in the Universe marking the end-point in the evolution of certain stars, producing neutron stars and in more exceptional cases stellar mass black holes. These explosions play a vital role in our understanding of stellar evolution, the synthesis of heavy elements, and through feedback processes also in galaxy evolution. Furthermore, they can also be used as probes of the cosmic star formation history which is one of the most fundamental observables in astrophysical cosmology. While thousands of supernovae are discovered each year, luminous transients occurring within the nuclei of galaxies have been largely missed or overlooked by the surveys. Such events may arise when a star passing too close to a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy is disrupted by tidal forces caused by the gravity of the black hole. Tidal disruption events provide a means of probing central black holes in galaxies and testing scenarios of accretion onto supermassive black holes important for our understanding of galaxy evolution.

Quantum properties of Atomic Hydrogen

Docent Sergey Vasiliev pursues studies of quantum properties of atomic hydrogen in a gas phase at lowest possible temperatures and atomic velocities. Other research directions of the group include quantum behavior of atomic hydrogen in solid molecular crystals of hydrogen and its isotopes, and magnetic resonance of shallow donors in semiconductors. Further details can be found in the group's web site.


Space Research Laboratory

The laboratory focuses on space physics at high energies. We investigate the generation of energetic particle radiation in particle acceleration processes at the Sun as well as its effects on spacecraft and satellites in orbit. We employ both computational and experimental methods in our studies, developing spacecraft instruments for detecting energetic particles and numerical models for simulating their acceleration and transport. The laboratory belongs to the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space funded by the Academy of Finland (2018-2025) and to the Space Radiation Expert Service Centre of the Space Situational Awareness programme of the European Space Agency.

Laboratory of Quantum Optics

Main research topics of the laboratory are physics of laser cooled atoms and Bose-Einstein condensate, and quantum information, open quantum systems and complex networks. Research is mainly theoretical but it is closely related to experimental work on this field.

Materials Research Laboratory

In the Materials Research Lab, we use the latest spectroscopic and imaging methods for investigating the key properties, behaviour and suitability for practical purposes of a large variety of materials.  We study single molecules, clusters, nanoparticles, surfaces and multilayers and we perform experiments at the home laboratory as well as at large international accelerator facilities – synchrotrons and free electron lasers. We also offer materials characterization services to  companies, helping them in troubleshooting and in developing better materials.

There are two research groups in our laboratory:
In Prof. Edwin Kukk’s group we focus on the behaviour of small quantum systems and on their interaction with radiation.
At Prof. Kalevi Kokko’s group, we conduct international materials research with cutting-edge methods. Interesting new material's phenomena found help us to aim to safer environment and better future.


Laboratory of Industrial Physics

The research of the laboratory is focused on porous nanostructured materials, electrostatics and pharmaceutical physics. The laboratory has also over 30-years history of collaboration with national and international companies. We have studied all kind of things from fishing lure to novel pharmaceutical formulations.

Laboratory of Theoretical Physics

The Laboratory of Theoretical Physics tackles fundamental questions within the fields of quantum technologies, quantum foundations, quantum field theory and cosmology. It is part of the Turku Centre for Quantum Physics.


Tuorla Observatory
Wihuri Physical Laboratory


Latest publications

Opportunities for Two-Color Experiments in the Soft X-ray Regime at the European XFEL (2020)

Applied Sciences
Svitozar Serkez, Winfried Decking, Lars Froehlich, Natalia Gerasimova, Jan Grünert, Marc Guetg, Marko Huttula, Suren Karabekyan, Andreas Koch, Vitali Kocharyan, Yauhen Kot, Edwin Kukk, Joakim Laksman, Pavel Lytaev, Theophilos Maltezopoulos, Tommaso Mazza, Michael Meyer, Evgeni Saldin, Evgeny Schneidmiller, Matthias Scholz, Sergey Tomin, Maurizio Vannoni, Torsten Wohlenberg, Mikhail Yurkov, Igor Zagorodnov, Gianluca Geloni
(A1 Journal article – refereed)