Theoretical Physics

Research in our department spans both high-energy physics and materials physics.

High Energy Physics

Topics of interest to high-energy physicists include the phenomenology of elementary particle interactions, quantum field theory, the dynamical breakdown of quantum field theoretical symmetries, the quantization of gravity, string/brane models underlying known-interaction physics, and the unification of fundamental interactions of nature.

The high-energy physicists in our department participate in the Collaborative Ph.D. Program in Theoretical Physics, and have strong ties with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in nearby Waterloo, Ontario.

Materials Physics

At the other end of the spectrum, materials physics is a research area that connects physics with chemistry and computational mathematics. The Material Physics group in our department uses computer simulations of nano-scale phenomena to make important discoveries about the properties of materials we use every day.

Research is primarily devoted to the study of soft condensed matter physics and physical chemistry. Research topics include microfluidic devices, colloidal systems, nanotribology including friction in biological systems, ceramics under high pressure, quantum-mechanical many-body systems, quantum chemistry, polymers, liquid crystals, disordered systems, and phase transitions.

Representative Publications

  • Getting excited: Challenges in quantum-classical studies of excitons in polymeric systems, Behnaz Bagheri, Bjoern Baumeier, Mikko Karttunen, PCCP 28, 30297-30304 (2016)
  • Stable Porphyrin-Phospholipid Doped Liposomes Permeabilized by Near Infrared Light, K. Carter, S. Shao, Matthew I. Hoopes, W. Song, H. Huang, G. Zhang, B. Asan, R.K. Pandey, B.A Pfeifer, J. Ortega, Mikko Karttunen, J.F Lovell, Nature Communications 5, 3546 (2014).
  • One- and two-particle dynamics in microfluidic T-junctions
    S.T.T. Ollila, C. Denniston, and T. Ala-Nissila
    Physical Review E, Rapid Communications 87, 050302(R) (2013).
  • Deformable vesicles interacting in a nematic liquid crystal
    F.E. Mackay and C. Denniston
    Soft Matter 9, 5285 (2013). 
  • Hydrodynamic effects on confined polymers
    S.T.T. Ollila, C. Denniston, M. Karttunen, and T. Ala-Nissila
    Soft Matter 9, 3478 (2013).
  • The Renormalization Group and the Effective Action
    D.G.C. McKeon (Western Ontario U. & Algoma U.). Feb 2011. 7 pp.
    Published in Can.J.Phys. 89 (2011) 277-280
    DOI: 10.1139/P11-021
    e-Print: arXiv:1102.0739 [hep-th] | PDF
  • Modelling defect-bonded chains produced by colloidal particles in a cholesteric liquid crystal
    F. E. MacKay and C. Denniston
    Europhysics Letters 94, 66003 (2011).