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School of Physics

The study and teaching of physics at Trinity College has a long and distinguished history and has included figures such as Hamilton, Lloyd, Fitzgerald and Walton, who made important contributions to physics. Recent decades have seen a huge expansion of research in magnetism, photonics, nanoscience and soft matter, placing the School at the forefront of the subject in Ireland, with a leadership role in European science.

Physics lies at the heart of most of science and technology. Even modern biology seeks to analyse many of the processes of life in terms of physical laws. The search for a fundamental understanding of nature requires a combination of experiment, theory and computation. Our degree courses combine all three of these elements, and prepare the student for a wide range of careers. Our graduates are in strong demand for a wide range of jobs in industry and commerce.

The School of Physics has a long and distinguished history of teaching and research. Richard Helsham, the original Erasmus Smith's Professor, was the first to lay out Newton's methods in a form suitable for the undergraduate, so that his Lectures in Natural Philosophy were in use for a hundred years in the College and elsewhere in Europe. Later holders of the chair include G. F. Fitzgerald, famous in relativity theory, and E. T. S. Walton, the only Irish recipient of a Nobel prize in Science.. The Sami Nasr Institute for Advanced Materials, completed in 2000, houses the central part of the School today. The two buildings provide excellent modern facilities for teaching and research for a very lively community of over 200, including over 20 academic staff, more than 50 postdoctoral fellows and over 100 graduate students, representing ten nationalities from three continents.

The School of Physics is a major participant in the Trinity Centre for High Performance Computing, which is housed in the Lloyd building, named after Humphrey Lloyd, who worked in Trinity in the 19th century and made important contibutions in optics and the study of the terrestrial magnetism. The Centre for Research in Nanoscience and Nanodevices (CRANN) was opened in January 2008. Several members of the School of Physics carry out research in the new, state-of-the-art facilities.

We have close links with the Schools of Mathematics and Chemistry, with whom we also teach a joint courses in 'Theoretical Physics'. Our new Degree has been developed from the PCAM degree and will now have a strong focus on nanoscience.

In research, the School has a worldwide reputation and several staff are recognised as leaders in their fields, particularly in nanoscience. Much of this research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. Inventions and technical developments arising from our research have led to the foundation of several spin-off companies in recent years.

Last updated 10 September 2013