The current Department of Physics can be traced back through a long and rich history: its earliest forerunner was founded in 1904 as Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School. It was renamed to Raffles College in 1929 and established as a proper university as University of Malaya in 1949. After a further renaming to University of Singapore in 1962 and a merger with Nanyang University in the year 1980, the National University of Singapore was established. It is worth mentioning that famous physicists visited the department, such as Paul A. M. Dirac – a picture of him during a lecture is on display still in the departmental meeting room.

Until around 1990, the department was essentially a teaching department with little research activities. At that time, NUS began to transform itself into a research university. Over these past two decades, tremendous efforts have been made in developing the research capabilities of our department, which is now classified as “research intensive”. Below we list the current major research directions.

  • Physics of Nanoscience
  • Condensed Matter and Advanced Materials
  • Biological Physics
  • Physics of Nonlinear and Complex Systems
  • Atomic, Molecular Physics (including Nonlinear Optics)
  • Computational and Theoretical Physics (including String Theory, Cosmology, Particle Physics, etc)
  • Quantum Information
  • Graphene and 2D Materials

There are several unique groups in our department, firstly the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT), which originated in the physics department and is now a separate research centre, the first Research Centre of Excellence (RCE) funded by the Singapore government. Recently the Centre for Advanced 2D Materials and Graphene Research Centre was set up to spearhead graphene and 2D materials research. The Centre for Ion Beam Application (CIBA) is a unique entity, dedicated to ion beam applications. Many of our faculty members have very active research programmes and have produced high impact research work. Some of them hold editorial positions at prestigious journals and are elite members of professional organizations (such as APS or IoP fellows).

The 2017 and 2018 “QS world university ranking by subjects” has ranked NUS physics at the 25th position in the physics and astronomy category. Over the years, the research output produced by the department has grown quite strongly, as shown in figure 1 below. The figure indicates the number of journal publications indexed by the Web of Science with an author/coauthor from our department. Clearly, tremendous progress has been made.

Number of publications from NUS physics department that have been listed as “highly cited papers” by Web of Science during 1998-2017.

Number of total citations per year contributed by all publications from NUS physics department recorded by Wed of Science during 1999 -2018.

Research Areas

The Department of Physics at the National University of Singapore promotes excellence in a range of research areas, including condensed matter physics, surface physics, materials science, high energy physics, atomic physics, superconductors, solid-state ionics, astrophysics, infrared spectroscopy, laser optics, X-ray fluorescence, ion beam physics, optics, acoustics and computer simulations.

Our aim in research development is to both acquire new knowledge in fundamental areas and to tackle problems of relevance to Singapore's industry. The Physics Department sees a major role for itself in the national effort to advance Singapore into a high-tech era. To this end, many staff conduct collaborative, multi-disciplinary research work with industry, overseas universities and government ministries.

The Physics Department has many laboratories which are equipped with excellent research facilities, such as the Surface Science Laboratory, Centre for Ion Beam Applications (CIBA), Centre for Superconducting Magnetic Materials (CSMM) and Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory. In addition, the Department has a well-equipped workshop to support the research activities and three Computer and Applications Laboratories with 200 high-power workstations and PCs, and scientific and advanced visualization software.

There are about fifty staff members who are actively involved in research work besides their primary teaching duties. The number of postgraduate students is about 120. Annual funding from the university, industry and government agencies, for new and ongoing research projects exceeds 2.5 million dollars. The Department's excellence in research has been demonstrated by plenary and invited talks by its staff in international conferences and by their service as referees for international journals.

The main areas of research in the department are:

  1. Physics of Nanoscience
    Low dimensional nanostructures exhibit fascinating properties with many potential applications in nanoelectronics, information storage, bio/chemical sensors and organic/molecular electronics. We are engaged in the synthesis of a wide variety of nanostructures and nanostructured materials using a variety of techniques for patterning and growth using lithography and self-assembly and researching their magnetic, electronic, optical, mechanical and chemical properties.

  2. Condensed Matter and Advanced Materials
    We are developing new materials in areas such as fuel cells, hydrogen storage, oxide electronics, spintronics, multiferroics, multi-functional hybrid thin films, low dimensional hybrid structures, nonlinear terahertz spectroscopy, nonlinear materials and portable energy sources. A range of characterization techniques are used for structural, optical, electrochemical, magnetic and electrical transport measurements at low temperature and high magnetic fields of thin films and bulk materials.

  3. Biological Physics
    The biophysics groups apply principles of physics, chemistry and also mathematical and computer modelling to understand the structure, dynamics, and functional mechanisms of biological systems. Areas include single molecule manipulation, force and fluorescence, complex fluids and biological micro/nanostructures.

  4. Physics of Nonlinear and Complex Systems
    A range of computational methods/techniques are used to investigate fundamental properties of condensed matter, to design new materials, and to simulate physical processes related to materials, nonlinear and complex systems. Areas include thermal transport in nanostructures, Monte Carlo simulation methods in statistical mechanics.

  5. Atomic, Molecular Physics (including Nonlinear Optics)

  6. Computational and Theoretical Physics (including String Theory, Cosmology, Particle Physics, etc)

  7. Quantum Information
    The Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) conducts interdisciplinary theoretical and experimental research into information processing. The focus of CQT is on the development of technologies such as ion traps and quantum optics for coherent control of individual photons and atoms, and to explore the construction of quantum mechanical devices for the purpose of cryptography and computation.

  8. Graphene and 2D Materials

Research Groups

Advanced Materials, Nanomaterials & Technology

2D Materials

  • Graphene, disordered magnetic systems, strongly correlated systems (Antonio CASTRO-NETO)
  • Graphene: nanostructure, transistors, biomedical devices (Barbaros OZYILMAZ)
  • Light-matter interaction, excitons, charge transport, thin film growth (Goki EDA)

Surface Science

  • Surface science, STM, heterojunctions, nanomaterials (Andrew WEE)
  • Self-assembly, interface engineering (Chen WEI)
  • Surface & interface of semiconducting materials (TOK Eng Soon)
  • STM & STS, topological insulators, self-assembly (WANG Xuesen)

Oxides: Superconductivity, Oxide thin films, Magnetic materials

  • Heterostructure, superlattices & quantum wells (Ariando)
  • Correlated electron system, synchrotron-based characterisation (Andrivo RUSYDI)
  • Oxides, ferroelectrics, GMR materials (R MAHENDIRAN)
  • Oxide electronics, ion-beam imaging and fabrication (Venky VENKATESAN)

Nanostructures, Energy

  • Hybrid nanostructured materials (SOW Chorng Haur)
  • Spin & acoustic dynamics; magphonic, magnonic, phononic crystals; ferroelectric/ ferroelastic phase transitions; laser spectroscopy (KUOK Meng Hau)
  • Advance Functional Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion, X-ray diffraction and other Spectroscopy techniques (M. V. Reddy)


  • Non-linear optics, spectroscopy, optoelectronics (Ji Wei)
  • Non-linear optics (Jose Carlos VIANA-GOMES)

Organic Semiconductors: Organic electronic devices

  • Organic light-emitting diodes, transistors, solar cells (Peter HO)
  • Organic solar cells, polymer heterostructures (CHUA Lay Lay)


Ion Beam Science & Technology

3D Polymeric structures, Biomedical physics, Materials imaging, High resolution RBS (spectrometry), Nuclear microscopy

  • Photonics & optics, lithography, imaging (Andrew BETTIOL)
  • Proton beam fabrication, lab-on-chip devices (Jeroen Anton van KAN)
  • High energy ion beams, materials imaging, micro-machining, x-ray lithography (Mark BREESE)
  • Ion-beam analysis, high resolution RBS, nuclear microscopy (Thomas OSIPOWICZ)


Biological & Soft Matter Physics

Molecular motors, biomolecular self-assembly, biopolymer, mechanics and interaction of biomolecules

  • Biopolymer Physics (Johan van der MAAREL)
  • Biological materials, materials formation, hybrid materials (LIU Xiangyang)
  • Nanopore DNA sequencing, nanofluidics, 2D materials (Slaven GARAJ)
  • Nanoscale dynamics; interfacial liquids; electron microscopy (Utkur MIRSAIDOV)
  • Motor protein biophysics, nanomachinery (WANG Zhisong)
  • Genome organization; protein folding; mechanics of biomolecules (YAN Jie)


Theoretical & Computational Physics

Condensed matter physics

  • Computational Materials Physics (FENG Yuan Ping & ZHANG Chun)
  • Acoustic phonons, spin waves (Paul LIM)
  • Material electronic structure & transport properties (QUEK Su Ying)
  • Disorder & interactions in Dirac fermion systems (SHAFFIQUE Adam)
  • Quantum condensed matter theory, physics of graphene and other 2D materials, interacting and disordered systems (Vitor Manuel PEREIRA)
  • Quantum thermal transport, molecular dynamics simulation (WANG Jian-Sheng)

Nonlinear dynamics, Complex systems

  • Quantum dynamics & information, cold-atom systems, decoherence theory (GONG Jiangbin)
  • Complex networks, quantum information science (LAI Choy Heng)
  • Discrete-event systems, parallel simulation (TAY Seng Chuan)

Electromagnetics, Acoustics

  • Microwave materials, digital sound, psychoacoustics (Bernard TAN)
  • Atmosphere and ocean dynamics, image restoration, radar imaging, EM material (LIM Hock)

Astrophysics, Cosmology (General relativity, quantum field theory, black holes, cosmological models)

  • General relativity & gravitation (Edward TEO)
  • Multi-particle phenomenology, neutrino physics, astronomy (Phil CHAN)

String Theory

  • a) M-theory, string theory, quantum field theory (TAN Meng Chwan)


Quantum Information Technologies

Cold atoms & Molecules, Atom & Ion trapping

  • Bose-Einstein condensate measurements, atom interferometery (CHUNG Keng Yeow)
  • “Quantum logic” techniques for molecular ions (Dzmitry MATSUKEVICH)
  • Quantum degenerate fermions and molecules, laser spectroscopy (Kai DIECKMANN)
  • Many-body physics, laser cooling & trapping, Rydberg gases (LI Wenhui)
  • Cavity quantum electro-dynamics, ion-traps, metrology (Murray BARRETT)

Cryptography, Quantum entanglement & Information theory

  • Fermionic atoms, neutral dipolar atoms, quantum bits storage, quantum state, quantum process (BG ENGLERT)
  • Quantum entanglement, non-classical correlation and quantum computing (Dagomir KASZLIKOWSKI)
  • Quantum information, high energy physics, quantum field theory (OH Choo Hiap)
  • Bell nonlocality, theory of quantum devices (Valerio SCARANI)
  • Geometrical and algebraic methods in quantum systems (Kuldip SINGH)
  • Many body entanglement, geometrical phases, information theory entropies, cluster state quantum computation (VLATKO Vedral)

Quantum optics & Atom-photon interaction Quantum key distribution, entangled states between photons)

  • Optical entanglement system (Alexander LING)
  • Quantum communication, atom-light interactions (Christian KURTSIEFER)
  • Trapped ions, quantum information processing & metrology (Manas MUKHERJEED)
  • Quantum measurement & control, optics (TSANG Mankei)



  • Loh Huanqian, L’Oréal Singapore for Women in Science National Fellowship: 2018 Physical & Engineering Sciences Fellow
  • Duane Loh Ne-Te, NUS Early Career Research Award


  • Feng Yuan Ping, Institute of Physics Singapore, President's Award
  • Wang Jian-Sheng, IPS World Scientific Award


  • Andrivo Rusydi, Functionalised Nano-Material Science Award
  • Gong Jiangbin, IPS World Scientific Award
  • Quek Su Ying, IPS Nanotechnology Award
  • Utkur M. Mirsaidov, IPS Nanotechnology Award


  • Berthold-Georg Englert, American Physical Society (APS) Fellow
  • Goki Eda, A* STAR Young Scientist Awards (YSA) - Physical, Information & Engineering Sciences
  • Goki Eda, NUS Young Researcher Award 
  • Oh Choo Hiap, American Physical Society (APS) Fellow
  • Yan Jie, American Physical Society (APS) Fellow
  • Lai Choy Heng, Institute of Physics, Singapore President's Medal
  • James Lee, Special Institute of Physics, Singapore Award


  • Oh Choo Hiap, The IPS President's Medal
  • Wang Jian Sheng, Provost Chair
  • Yan Jie, Dean's Chair


  • Goki Eda, IPS Omicron Nanotechnology Medal and Prize
  • Öezyilmaz, Barbaros, NUS Young Researcher Award 
  • Öezyilmaz, Barbaros, IPS World Scientific (Physics Research) Medal and Prize
  • Thirumalai Venkatesan, The IPS President's Medal
  • Wee, Andrew, Provost Chair


  • Chen Wei, A* STAR Young Scientist Awards (YSA)
  • Peter Ho, Dean's Chair
  • Valerio Scarani, Provost Chair
  • Thirumalai Venkatesan, APS George E. Pake Prize


  • Feng Yuan Ping, American Physical Society (APS) Fellow
  • Gong Jianbin, Dean's Chair
  • Gong Jianbin, NUS Young Researcher Award


  • Ariando, IPS Omicron Nanotechnology Medal
  • Dagomir Kaszlikowski, NUS Young Researcher Award
  • Barbaros Öezyilmaz, SMF-NUS Research Horizons Award 
  • Ong Chong Kim, NUS Outstanding Researcher Award
  • Andrivo Rusydi, A* STAR Young Scientist Awards (YSA) 2010
  • Valerio Scarani, IPS World Scientific Medal


  • Chen Wei, IPS Omicron Nanotechnology Medal and Prize
  • Berthold-Georg Englert, Provost Chair
  • Christian Kurtsiefer, Dean’s Chair
  • Vedral Vlatko, IPS World Scientific (Physics Research) Medal and Prize (Quantum Physics Research)


  • Peter Ho, NUS Young Researcher Award
  • Kuok Meng Hau, IPS Omicron Nanotechnology Medal and Prize
  • Christian Kurtsiefer, A* STAR National Science Award 
  • Andrivo Rusydi, NUS Young Investigator  Award
  • Valerio Scarani, A* STAR National Science Award 
  • Andrew Wee, The IPS President's Medal


  • Peter Ho, Temasek Young Investigator Award
  • Jeroen Van Kan, IPS Omicron Nanotechnology Medal and Prize
  • Christian Kurtsiefer, American Physical Society (APS) Fellow
  • Lim Hock, The IPS President's Medal
  • Liu Xiang-Yang, NUS Outstanding Researcher Award


  • Mark Breese, NUS Young Researcher Award
  • Artur Ekert, NUS Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professorship Award
  • Berthold-Georg Englert, A* STAR National Science Award
  • Gong Jianbin, NUS Young Investigator Award 
  • Dagomir Kaszlikowski, A* STAR National Science Award
  • Ramanathan Mahendiran, NUS Young Investigator Award 
  • Oh Choo Hiap, A* STAR National Science Award
  • Sow Chorng Hau, IPS Nanotechnology Award


  • Mark Breese, IPS Premier Award
  • Peter Ho, A* STAR Young Scientist Awardsl and IPS Omicron Nanotechnology Medal
  • Tan Tiong Gie Bernard, The IPS President's Medal
  • Teo Edward, A* STAR Young Scientist Awardsl and NUS Outstanding Researcher Award
  • Wang Jian-Sheng, American Physical Society(APS) Fellow
  • Yan Jie, NUS Office of Life Sciences Young Investigator Award


  • Lim Hock, Defence Technology Prize (DTP)