Department of Physics

Condensed matter theory group photo

Theoretical and Computational Physics

Our research in theoretical and computational physics involves a wide range of systems, which typically consist of many interacting components, such as molecules, electrons, or living organisms. We study how the components interact with each other, and how this leads to unusual behaviour and novel applications.

Lock and key colloids assemble into chainsQuantum corrals localise surface electronsatomistic structure of a perovskite solar cell
Research ranges from soft and hard condensed matter to optoelectronic devices

Newton's laws of motion are often successful in describing the dynamics of systems of atoms and molecules, and Schrodinger's equation can be used to understand much of materials physics. But looking at the equations themselves gives no hint of the important physical phenomena like crystal formation or the operation of solar cells contained within their solution. Similarly, even simple interactions between living organisms can result in unexpected spatial or social organisation.

These examples show that simple equations and simple systems can support complex emergent behaviour. Fortunately, mathematical and computational tools from theoretical physics are ideal for understanding the complex phenomena that are observed in nature. In the Theoretical and Computational Physics group, we exploit methods like Monte Carlo simulation, network analysis and density functional theory. We use them to investigate:


There are opportunities for postgraduate research throughout our group. Interested students can either contact academic staff directly or see the Physics PhD project page.

Our website also contains more information on Physics PhDs or, for more general information on postgraduate study, please visit the Faculty of Science Graduate School.

A pair of marked ants interacting in an ant behaviour experiment.
Social animal networks also feature in our research

The group environment

The Theoretical and Computational Physics research group carries out research in diverse fields and in collaboration with many other groups across the world.

For numerical calculations, we make use of dedicated group computing servers as well as the university's high performance kilonode computing cluster which provides a powerful resource for tackling computationally intensive problems.

We have regular seminars on research within the group and frequent visits from external speakers. By meeting together in this way, we are able to share new methods and identify novel problems for future study.