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
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.
This Academy of Finland centre of excellence (https://qtf.fi) 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. https://www.utu.fi/en/sites/sne/Pages/home.aspx
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.