The research profile of the Department of Physics is mainly characterized by three research foci, which are represented by the division into three institutes. These three research areas are Modern Optics (Institute of Applied Physics), Condensed Matter Physics (Institute for Condensed Matter Physics) and Nuclear Physics (Institute of Nuclear Physics).
Research-relevant synergy effects result on the one hand from the integration of the Department of Physics into the engineering environment of the TU Darmstadt (with shares of 50% engineering sciences, 35% natural sciences and 15% humanities) and on the other hand from the proximity to the research facilities of the Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI) as well as to neighbouring universities such as Frankfurt, Mainz and Heidelberg. These form a natural framework for the activities of the Department of Physics in research and teaching.
In principle, research in Darmstadt does not take place in an ivory tower. Through guided tours, lectures and internships for schoolchildren, members of the department promote public understanding of research in modern physics.
Research projects of the department have been and are – apart from the state of Hesse – funded to a considerable extent by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). One of the department's goals is to continue to acquire third-party funding from both public and private sources.
The intensification of interdisciplinary networking within and outside of the TU Darmstadt as well as collaborations with GSI and neighbouring universities have had a lasting influence on and strengthened the research activities of the Department of Physics in recent years. Thus, the department is a major participant in various forms of DFG joint projects, such as clusters of excellence, collaborative research centers, research groups and graduate schools. Within the framework of the international large-scale project FAIR and the SFB 1245, the research infrastructure in the field of nuclear and particle physics has been significantly expanded through the third-party funding acquired together with GSI and neighboring universities. Interdisciplinary collaborations between the Department of Physics and the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Mathematics were significantly strengthened, for example, within the framework of excellence programmes (LOEWE centres, LOEWE focal points).
Teaching at the department is characterized by the education of physics students with Bachelor's, Master's and teaching degrees (grammar school), as well as by service events for students of engineering and natural sciences. In all these areas, there has been a considerable increase in the number of students over the last five years. For example, the number of physics students within the standard period of study has risen by 80% since 2010. Similar, and in some cases even higher, growth figures can be reported from the service sector. In response, considerable efforts have been made in recent years to ensure that the high number of students continues to receive a high-quality education.
In particular, our Bachelor's and Master's programs in physics, which have been in existence since 2003 and were last successfully evaluated in 2015, have been further expanded. This expansion is taking place, for example, in the direction of close collaborations with neighboring universities, e.g. within the framework of a collaboration agreement with the University of Frankfurt and Mainz. In addition, the interdisciplinary environment within the TU Darmstadt has been integrated even more strongly into the teaching activities of the Physics Department. Here, the TU-wide interdisciplinary project KIVA (Competence Orientation through Interdisciplinary Networking from the Very Beginning) plays a decisive role.
Regardless of these efforts, the department attaches great importance to high quality teaching. The focus here is equally on basic and method-oriented education. This also means that permanent financial resources and personal commitment are used for the renewal of internships and the PC pool. Throughout the entire course of study, social skills such as organisational and team skills are promoted. International contacts and cooperation are a necessity and a matter of course in physics research. In order to prepare students for this at an early stage, the department promotes stays abroad, e.g. within the framework of exchange programmes.
Saturday Morning Physics
Our successful public relations activities include the annual lecture series Saturday Morning Physics. Saturday Morning Physics gives interested high school students the opportunity to learn about current issues in modern physics and to gain an insight into the research activities of the department.