Theoretical Physics

The research areas in the Department of Theoretical Physics include

Particle Physics
Elementary particles and quantum field theory, lattice gauge theories of quarks and quark confinement.
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Atomic and Nuclear Physics
Parity and time invariance violation in atoms and nuclei. Variation of fundamental constants and its effect on atomic and nuclear properties. Quantum chaos and statistical laws in finite many-body systems. Enhancement of weak interactions in chaotic states. Isotope shift. Relativistic and many-body effects in atoms. Methods of high precision atomis calculations.
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Condensed Matter Theory
High-temperature superconductivity, electrons in solids, surface and interface problems, magnetism, phase transitions, theory of liquids, nonlinear phenomena.
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Statistical Mechanics and Dynamical Systems
Research into the microscopic behaviour of nonequilibrium steady states and the application of chaotic dynamical systems theory to such systems.
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The broad research interests and qualifications of the academic and research staff allow them to work on challenging problems of modern physics, such as high temperature superconductivity, quantum phase transitions, mesoscopic systems, quantum chromodynamics, quantum gravity, violation of the fundamental symmetries and tests of Grand Unification theories, the search for cosmological variation of fundamental constants in the evolving Universe predicted by string theories, atoms in strong fields, quantum chaos, and foundations of statistical mechanics.

The members of the Department are involved in collaborations with numerous research groups in America, Europe, and Asia. The Department is fortunate to have the support of the Gordon Godfrey fund which finances visits to the University by world–leading theoreticians for the purpose of collaborative research and also provides funds for an annual international research conference held at the University on interesting topics of modern science.

The Gordon Godfrey fund also provides scholarships for postgraduate students and prizes for undergraduate students who excel in theoretical physics. Members of the Department give a continuing course in theoretical physics (with no examinations) which is aimed at making graduate students and other interested physicists familiar with the main achievements and methods of modern physics.

PhD graduates of the Department have found jobs mainly in research and teaching positions in Australia, USA, and Europe.

Academic Staff and Research Fields

Professor Victor V. Flambaum MSc. PhD. DSc. Novosibirsk, FAA
My research interests include a number of challenging problems in atomic , nuclear, elementary particle, solid state physics and astrophysics, violation of the fundamental symmetries (parity, time invariance), test of the theories of Grand Unification of elementary particles and their interactions, search for spatial and temporal variation of the fundamental constants in the Universe from the Big Bang to the present time, many-body theory and high-precision atomic calculations, quantum chaos and statistical theory, high-temperature superconductivity, mesoscopic systems and conductance quantization.
Associate Professor Chris J. Hamer MSc. Melb., PhD Calif. Inst. Tech., DipCompSc Canberra, FAIP
My research interests lie in theoretical physics, at the interface between particle physics and statistical mechanics. We study quantum lattice models, which may represent atomic spins in a magnet, electrons in a superconductor, or quarks confined within the proton. We use powerful numerical techniques to compute the properties of these models, and try to match them to experimental data. Some current topics of interest are novel ‘spin liquid’ phases in magnetic materials; the exploration of possible mechanisms for high-temperature superconductivity; and quantum Monte Carlo methods in lattice gauge theory.
Professor Gary P. Morriss BMath. N’cle (NSW), PhD. Melb.
The interface between nonequilibrium statistical mechanics and dynamical systems is my primary research interest. The use of deterministic thermostats has allowed the development of response theory for nonequilibrium steady states. Together with new ideas and techniques from dynamical systems theory we suggest that a new conceptual basis for a theory of nonequilibrium steady states is possible. The nonequilibrium measure is a singular SRB measure that can be approximated using periodic orbit techniques.
Professor Jaan Oitmaa BSc. PhD. DSc. UNSW, FAIP
My work applies the principles of quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics to systems of a large number of strongly interacting particles, to understand and describe macroscopic quantum phenomena such as magnetism and superconductivity. I also work on mathematical models which exhibit phase transitions, a striking and ubiquitous phenomenon which involves correlations between particles over macroscopic volumes. These studies are largely based on lattice models and use a variety of analytic and numerical techniques requiring the use of supercomputers. I am also interested in other aspects of the theory of condensed matter, and theoretical physics more generally.
Professor Oleg P. Sushkov MSc. PhD. Doctor of Science
My major research interests are in the field of many-body quantum physics. This includes Nuclear Physics, Atomic Physics and Condensed Matter Theory. The main results are: Precise calculation of parity violation effects in heavy atoms, Prediction of a huge enhancement of weak interaction effects in neutron scattering, Theory of parity violation in nuclear fission, Theory of the magnetic superconducting pairing in the Neel state of a strongly correlated quantum antifferomagnet. Current study is concentrated mainly on new types of quantum phase transitions in strongly correlated electron systems. This field has attracted a huge interest in recent years because of its close connection to the problem of high temperature superconductivity and because the technological progress allows to create novel materials with highly nontrivial quantum properties.