Our research

The Physics Department in UCC has a very active research programme covering a range of exciting topics including astrophysics, optics, atomic physics, quantum optics and photonics. The departmental research groups are located in the Physics Dept. and in Tyndall National Institute – UCC’s largest research institute.

We welcome applications from suitably qualified graduates to undertake postgraduate research leading to an MSc or PhD in any of our research groups listed below. Much of the Department’s research is performed collaboratively and there are excellent opportunities for students to broaden their skills and experience by spending time in one of our collaborating institutions in Europe, the USA, Asia or Australia.


Infrared, optical and X-ray observations of white-dwarf, neutron star and black hole binaries, using ground based (e.g. Keck) and space borne (e.g. Chandra/XMM) observatories. (Prof. Paul Callanan)

High-resolution radio studies of Active Galactic Nuclei using Very Long Baseline Interferometry, studies of the compact relativistic jets of AGN, the structure and evolution of their magnetic fields, interactions with the surrounding medium. (Dr. Denise Gabuzda)

Electronic Structure Theory

Condensed matter theory, computational physics, atomic and electronic structure of materials. Monte Carlo methods for quantum mechanical systems, classical molecular dynamics simulations, randomly driven non-linear dynamical systems. (Prof. Stephen Fahy)

Femtosecond Group

UV femtosecond laser-induced refractive index engineering in silica-based fibres. (Prof. David Nikogosyan)

Integrated Photonics Group

Within the Integrated Photonics Group, we are pursuing research in high speed and integrated photonics device and subsystems. This cross disciplinary photonics research requires expertise as diverse as quantum physics, microwave electronics, optics and materials science. We are seeking to increase the understanding of the physics of high speed photonic devices, and to find new and better ways of integrating multiple photonic devices together for higher functionality. (Dr. Frank Peters)

Laser Spectroscopy Group

Spectroscopy and dynamics of molecular systems in the gas and liquid phase: Ultra sensitive laser- and lamp-based cavity enhanced absorption and cavity ring-down spectroscopy. Atmospheric trace gas detection and gas dynamics. Electronic structure and dynamics of jet-cooled large organic molecules. High resolution luminescence and excitation spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy of bio-molecules. Nonlinear processes and multi-photon absorption of porphyrins. Laser ablation and synthesis of metal nanoparticles. (Dr. Andy Ruth, Prof. Michael Mansfield)

Optoelectronics and Nonlinear Optics

Semiconductor laser physics and quantum optics of matter waves. High power semiconductor lasers, Vertical cavity surface emitting lasers, Quantum dot semiconductor lasers, broad area semiconductor lasers, nonlinear dynamics of external cavity semiconductor lasers, coherence properties of trapped Bosons and Fermions. (Prof. J. McInerney)

Photonic Systems

Nonlinear optics for optical signal processing; optical and optoelectronic device physics and their systems applications; optical and quantum communications. (Prof. David Cotter, Dr. Andrew Ellis, Dr. Bob Manning, Prof. Paul Townsend)

Physics Education

Development of innovative methods of teaching physics at secondary school and university; novel uses of new technologies in science education; applications of computer and hand-held technologies in laboratory teaching. (Prof. Colm O’Sullivan)

Plasma Diagnostics

Computational studies and modelling of experimental data in magnetic confinement fusion research. MHD equilibrium calculations on tokamaks and stellarators. Rapid methods of system identification using statistical methodologies. Diagnostic design studies using simulated databases. (Dr. Patrick McCarthy)

Quantum Optics Group

The group is involved in the study of the quantum behaviour of light and matter through experiments and theory. Current projects include (i) a thorough characterisation of rare-earth doped spherical microcavity resonators as potential lasing devices, (ii) a study of the interactions between cold rubidium atoms and the evanescent light field component emitted from micro-optics devices and (iii) the creation of a superposition of a single atom in a micro-trap system. (Dr. Síle Nic Chormaic)

Quantum Optics: Shortcuts to Adiabaticity

The group works in the field of theoretical quantum optics. The preparation and control of quantum states in a quick and robust way is very important for future quantum technologies. Therefore, we are developing and examining new schemes -called “Shortcuts to Adiabaticity”- for these tasks by speeding up adiabatic processes while keeping their robustness. (Dr. Andreas Ruschhaupt)

Quantum zero point energy (ZPE) and its effects; Mössbauer spectroscopy:

(1) ZPE and the origins of the density maxima in water and liquid He4. (2) Transmission and backscatter Mössbauer spectroscopy to investigate magnetic and other properties in iron, iron alloys and organo-iron complexes. (Dr. Tony Deeney)


We study the dynamics of the gravitational field, especially the binary black hole problem. This links gravitational wave astronomy to our interests in mathematical relativity. We collaborate with a large range of colleagues from many countries. (Prof. Niall Ó Murchadha, Dr. Mark Hannam)

Geometrical aspects of Physics, such as those present in classical mechanics, relativity and low-energy effective field theories arising from superstring theories. (Dr. M. Vandyck, in collaboration with Dr. D. Hurley, Department of Mathematics)

Ultracold Quantum Gases

The group works on theoretical concepts for the implementation of ideas in quantum information using cold atomic gases. Current projects include a method for controlled creation of a many-particle entangled state, development of a quantum computer concept using topological qubits and a novel idea for robust state preparation of single atoms. The group is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. (Dr. Thomas Busch)