Our Research Topics

The main research areas in the department are: Particle and Astroparticle Physics, Quantum Materials and Systems, Optics and Photonics, Geophysics, and Meteorology and Climate Physics. The department includes a large number of institutes where the research is carried out.

Particle and Astroparticle Physics

In particle and astroparticle physics we study the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions as well as their importance and role in the formation and evolution of the largest structures in the universe.

Experimental research in particle and astroparticle physics at KIT is characterized by large-scale international projects. These include the CMS and Belle II experiments at large particle accelerators, the KATRIN experiment at KIT to measure the neutrino mass, the XENON experiment to search for dark matter at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory, the Pierre Auger Observatory to study cosmic rays in Argentina, and the IceCube neutrino observatory at the South Pole. Furthermore, we are involved in planning the next generation of large-scale projects such as DARWIN, LUXE or SHADOWS and several smaller experiments.

In theoretical particle and astroparticle physics at KIT, we perform complex pertubative calculations and non-pertubative studies in the Standard Model of particle physics and investigate theories that can explain natural phenomena not included in the Standard Model. From this, we derive predictions for the experiments and help to interpret their data.

Research on particle and astroparticle physics at KIT is performed jointly at the KIT Center Elementary Particle and Astroparticle Physics (KCETA) and at the following institutes:

Doctoral researchers in particle and astroparticle physics and related technologies profit from the structured graduate program of the doctoral school Karlsruhe School of Elementary Particle and Astroparticle Physics: Science and Technology (KSETA)



Quantum Materials and Systems

Researchers working on quantum materials and quantum systems investigate new physical concepts and functionalities that are only made possible by quantum mechanics. Examples include superconducting or magnetic quantum bits (qubits), nanoscale systems, novel phenomena arising from the topology of the electron wave function in solids, exotic magnets, or unconventional superconductors.

In the field of experimental physics, a wide range of modern methods are used for fabrication and detailed investigation. Measurements take place under extreme conditions, such as low temperatures, high pressures or in magnetic fields. These are carried out in the laboratories of the working groups or at large-scale research facilities at KIT and worldwide.

In theoretical physics, analytical and computer-based models are used to formulate the theoretical foundations and make predictions for new phenomena. Modern quantum field theories and numerical methods as well as simulations on quantum computers are used to solve these questions.

Research on quantum materials and systems is performed at the following institutes:

Doctoral students who conduct research in the field of quantum materials and quantum systems benefit from the structured doctoral program of the KIT Graduate School Quantum Matter.



Optics and Photonics

In optics and photonics, we study classical and non-classical light and its linear and non-linear interaction with matter out of fundamental interest and to develop new applications. For this purpose, we tailor the properties of light using a wide variety of methods. Examples of such properties are frequency, amplitude, phase, polarization, spatio-temporal distribution or non-classical correlations. Our work is characterized by a high degree of integration between experiment and theory. We cooperate intensively with partners in other scientific disciplines such as biology, chemistry, mechanics, mathematics or engineering.

Our experimental work is in the additive manufacturing of nanostructured materials using direct laser beam writing methods, the development of microscopic techniques that overcome traditional limits of resolution, or the coupling of quantum emitters and optical resonators for applications in quantum communications and quantum sensing. Our theoretical and numerical work covers many topics from quantum optics to nanophotonics. In conceptual work, we explore new effects and study the influence of symmetries and its breaking on observable phenomena. But we also design concrete structures that influence light in a desired way. 

Research on optics and photonics is performed at the following institutes:

Doctoral students who are researching optics and photonics benefit from the structured doctoral program at the Karlsruhe School of Optics & Photonics.




Geophysics deals with the physical processes and properties of the Earth and its space environment. The main focus of research at KIT is on seismology, the study of geological, geophysical natural hazards, and the further development of seismic imaging techniques and their applications to problems of environmental geophysics and reservoir exploration. Seismology deals with the measurement, analysis, and modeling of seismic wave fields. In the study of geological natural hazards, the quantification of their effects, the prediction of natural hazards, and their early warning are of outstanding importance.  

Research on geophysics is performed at the following institute:



Meteorology and Climate Research

Central topics in the field of meteorology and climate research at the KIT Faculty of Physics are the investigation of atmospheric processes in the troposphere, of atmospheric trace gases by means of remote sensing, and atmospheric aerosol research.

In the field of tropospheric research (IMK-TRO) fundamental investigations of climate, atmospheric dynamics, the hydrological cycle and the balance of trace gases are carried out. Atmospheric processes such as turbulence, convection, cloud formation, aerosol physics, precipitation formation and exchange processes at the Earth's surface are investigated in detail using a combination of measurements, numerical modeling and theoretical methods.

Atmospheric aerosol research (IMK-AAF) focuses on the role of aerosols, solid or liquid suspended particles, in the climate system, the hydrological cycle, and the environment. For this purpose, an aerosol and cloud simulation chamber is operated and ground- and airborne field campaigns are conducted around the world.

In the field of Atmospheric Trace Elements and Remote Sensing (IMK-ASF), a major focus is the investigation of the complex relationships between climate change, dynamics and transport, and atmospheric chemistry. For this purpose, high-precision measurements by various observation platforms (ground stations, aircraft, satellites) provide the data necessary for modeling atmospheric processes.

Research on meteorology and climate takes place at the KIT Climate and Environment Center and at the following institute: