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The research activity of the Institute of Physics covers five main domains:

  • Quantum Science and Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Biophysics and complex systems
  • Particle and astrophysics
  • Physics for energy

Latest News

EU grants €14 million to Swiss researchers


The European Research Council (ERC) has given four scientists from the PSI, EPFL, ETH Zurich, and Stockholm University a €14 million grant to look “into the heart of materials” and uncover new quantum effects that have gone overloo

Christian Theiler awarded EUROfusion grant


Professor Christian Theiler at the Swiss Plasma Center (EPFL) has been awarded an “Enabling Research Grant” from the EUROfusion Consortium to lead a collaborative research project in the physics of tokamaks.

Upcoming Events

Microfocus laser-ARPES on encapsulated mono-, bi- and few-layer 1T'-WTe2

Two-dimensional crystals of semi-metallic van der Waals materials hold much potential for the realization of novel phases, as exemplified by the recent discoveries of a polar metal in few-layer 1T’-WTe2 and of a quantum spin Hall state in monolayers of the same material. Understanding these phases is particularly challenging because little is known from experiment about the momentum space electronic structure of ultrathin crystals. In this talk, I will discuss direct electronic structure measurements of exfoliated mono- bi- and few-layer 1T’-WTe2 by laser-based micro-focus angle resolved photoemission. This is achieved by encapsulating a flake of WTe2 comprising regions of different thickness with monolayer graphene. Our data support the recent identification of a quantum spin Hall state in monolayer 1T'-WTe2 and reveal strong signatures of the broken inversion symmetry in the bilayer. We finally discuss the sensitivity of encapsulated samples to contaminants following exposure to ambient atmosphere.
About the research of the speaker:

Prof. Wyart

On the geometry of the landscape underlying deep learning

Deep learning has been immensely successful at a variety of tasks, ranging from classification to artificial intelligence. Yet why it works is unclear. Learning corresponds to fitting training data, which is implemented by descending a very high-dimensional loss function.  Two central questions are (i) since the loss is a priori not convex, why doesn't this descent get stuck in poor minima, leading to bad performance? (ii) Deep learning works in a regime where the number of parameters can be larger, even much larger, than the data to fit. Why does it lead to very predictive models then, instead of overfitting?
Here I will discuss an unexpected analogy between the loss landscape in deep learning and the energy landscape of repulsive ellipses, that supports an explanation for (i). If times permit I will discuss (ii), more specifically the surprising finding  that predictive power continuously improves by adding more parameters.



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CE 1 2

FSB General Assembly

Prof. Jan S. Hesthaven, Dean of the Faculty of Basic Sciences,  is pleased to invite you to the FSB Annual meeting on Thursday 13th December at 17:15 in Room CE1 2.

On this occasion we invite you to share an apéritif immediately after the meeting. The aperitif will be held at the Epicure Restaurant.

Please register here 

We look forward to seeing you all at the FSB AG

By: Prof. Jan S. Hesthaven, Doyen de la Faculté des Sciences de Base,

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Electron-phonon physics from first principles

Electron-phonon interactions (EPIs) are ubiquitous in condensed matter and materials physics. For example EPIs play a central role in the electrical resistivity of metals, the carrier mobility of semiconductors, the pairing mechanism of conventional superconductors, and the optical properties of indirect-gap materials. More fundamentally, the EPI is the simplest realization of the interaction between fermion and boson fields, arguably one of the pillars of many-particle physics and quantum electrodynamics. The EPI has been studied for almost a century, however only during the last two decades predictive, non-empirical calculations have become possible. In this talk I will outline the theoretical and computational framework underlying modern electron-phonon calculations from first principles, and illustrate recent progress in this area by discussing representative work from our group. In particular I will touch upon our recent investigations of polarons in the angle-resolved photoelectron spectra of transition metal oxides [1,2], the superconducting pairing mechanism in transition metal dichalcogenides [3], non-adiabatic Kohn anomalies in the inelastic X-ray scattering spectra of doped semiconductors [4], and the phonon-induced renormalization of carrier effective masses in halide perovskites [5]. I will conclude by discussing opportunities for future work, and the key challenges for advancing theoretical and computational research on electron-phonon physics [5].

[1] C. Verdi et al., Nat. Commun. 8, 15769 (2017).
[2] J. M. Riley et al., Nat. Commun. 9, 2305 (2018).
[3] C. Heil et al., Phys. Rev. Lett., 119, 087003 (2017).
[4] F. Caruso et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 017001 (2017).
[5] M. Schlipdf et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 086402 (2018).

About the speaker
Feliciano Giustino is Full Professor of Materials at the University of Oxford, and during AY 2017/18 he was the Mary Shepard B. Upson Visiting Professor in Engineering at Cornell University. He holds an MSc in Nuclear Engineering from Politecnico di Torino and a PhD in Physics from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Before joining the Department of Materials at Oxford he was a postdoc in the Physics Department of the University of California at Berkeley. He specialises in electronic structure theory and the atomic-scale design of advanced materials for electronics, photonics, and energy. He is author of 120+ research papers and one book on Materials Modelling using Density Functional Theory. He started the open-source software project EPW, which is currently distributed as a core module of the Quantum ESPRESSO materials simulation suite.

17th NCCR MARVEL "Distinguished Lecture"

By: Prof. Feliciano Giustino (University of Oxford, UK)

Prof. Penedones

Particle colliders for theorists

Particle collisions are the most common experiment in Particle Physics. In real experiments the collision energy is limited by our current technology. Thought experiments are not subject to this limitation and can provide a window into the strongly coupled regime of Quantum Field Theory (QFT) and Quantum Gravity. I will explain how basic physical principles can be used to constrain scattering amplitudes in QFT.

L. Howald; E. Stilp; F. Baiutti; C. Dietl; F. Wrobel et al. : Unexpected effects of thickness and strain on superconductivity and magnetism in optimally doped La1.84Sr0.16CuO4 thin films; PHYSICAL REVIEW B. 2018. DOI : 10.1103/PhysRevB.97.094514.
Y. Wang; M. Anderson; S. Coen; S. Murdoch; M. Erkintalo : Stimulated Raman Scattering Imposes Fundamental Limits to the Duration and Bandwidth of Temporal Cavity Solitons; PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS. 2018. DOI : 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.053902.
M. Tyloo; T. Coletta; P. Jacquod : Robustness of Synchrony in Complex Networks and Generalized Kirchhoff Indices; PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS. 2018. DOI : 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.084101.
A. Sterzi; G. Manzoni; A. Crepaldi; F. Cilento; M. Zacchigna et al. : Probing band parity inversion in the topological insulator GeBi2Te4 by linear dichroism in ARPES; JOURNAL OF ELECTRON SPECTROSCOPY AND RELATED PHENOMENA. 2018. DOI : 10.1016/j.elspec.2018.03.004.
I. Golovin; A. Balagurov; A. Emdadi; V. Palacheva; I. Bobrikov et al. : Phase transitions in Fe-27Ga alloys: Guidance to develop functionality; INTERMETALLICS. 2018. DOI : 10.1016/j.intermet.2018.05.016.