More SUPA research:


University of St Andrews School of Physics & Astronomy

Research fields for the School of Physics & Astronomy.


Complex Quantum Systems

Remarkably simple quantum phases, such as superconductivity and magnetic order, can emerge in complex systems of strongly interacting electrons in solids. We have a particular interest in ways of promoting further ‘emergence’ by fine-tuning the properties of materials near quantum critical points.

Quantum Optics and Quantum Information

Quantum optics is the science of simple quantum systems, often comprising atoms and photons, which exposes the fundamental properties and paradoxes of quantum mechanics. We are engaged in exploring and exploiting connections between quantum optics, quantum information, low-temperature condensed-matter physics and astrophysics, both theoretically and experimentally.


Ultrafast Photonics

A large research team is building upon two decades of pioneering work at St. Andrews to purse the production of ultrashort optical pulses for optical communications.

Microphotonics and Photonic Crystals

Fabrication of semiconductor microstructures yields unprecedented control over the propagation and emission of light.


Organic Semiconductors

Organic semiconductors combine the processing properties of plastics with the optoelectronic properties of conventional crystalline semiconductors. Research in St Andrews includes photophysical studies of new materials, and their application to LEDs, solar cells, lasers and optical amplifiers



Laser-based techniques, including fast optical pulses and laser tweezing, are used to investigate and manipulate biological systems and to contribute to modern medicine.

Terahertz and mm-wave physics

The School’s long-standing expertise in mm-wave techniques has fuelled several major new initiatives including applications to pulsed electron-spin resonance, weather radar and the deformation of volcanoes on the approach to eruption.


Laser Development and Nonlinear Optics

Microchip lasers are being developed for applications such as remote sensing. Optical parametric generation is used to produce widely-tunable sources from the visible to the terahertz region and on timescales down to femtosecond pulses. This is exploited in applications including spectroscopy, quantum optics, sensing and imaging, defence and security, and communications.


The Search for Extra Solar Planets

In the last decade over one hundred planets outside our solar system have been detected and the push is well underway to detect habitable, Earth-like planets. At St. Andrews a number of observational techniques are used, including the use of the new Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) camera.

Young Suns, Binary Stars, and Star Formation

Star formation and the early lives of young suns are studied at St Andrews from both an observational and theoretical perspective. The diverse programme includes simulations and radiative transfer models of star and planet formation, magnetic-fieldmodelling, tomographic stellar surface imaging, and observations of binary star systems and circumstellar dust disks.

Galaxy Dynamics and Active Galactic Nuclei

The hidden treasures of galaxies and secrets of their formation are best revealed by detailed modelling of data on the very inner regions around suspected black holes and very outer regions populated by suspected dark elementary particles. The techniques include echo-mapping, dynamical modelling, and gravitational lensing.