Department of Applied Physics

Physics is not satisfied with simply revealing the secrets of the universe. The discipline plays a far bigger role in society, contributing to the economy and the environment via the applications that result from the discoveries it makes.

The Applied Physics Group (GAP) was set up in 1980 to facilitate the transition from fundamental physics to practical applications.

GAP’s interests are designed to be wide-ranging in order to boost opportunities for technology transfer.


 GAP now consists of seven groups working in the following fields:

  • Biophotonics – Prof. Jean-Pierre Wolf : Biophotonics develops new processes to monitor and sometimes even control biological and atmospheric systems. Target applications include identifying bacteria in the ambient air, measuring pollutants, detecting early cancers and monitoring lightning.
  • Optics – Prof. Nicolas Gisin : The ultimate aims of quantum optics and quantum memories are: (i) to make large-scale distribution networks for quantum information; and (ii) to explore nonlocality, which focuses on the foundations and practical applications of entanglement.
  • Quantum technology – Prof. Hugo Zbinden : Quantum communication using fibre optics; in particular quantum cryptography, which is thought to be tamperproof and is based on the properties of quantum physics; and developing tools for quantum optics as simple photon sources and detectors.
  • Quantum correlations – Prof. Nicolas Brunner : The theory of quantum information, exploring the fundamental concepts of quantum physics (such as nonlocality) and quantum thermodynamics. In addition, developing applications for information processing and metrology.
  • Nonlinear physics – Prof. Jérôme Kasparian : The nonlinear physics group is interested in the non-linear propagation of high-power lasers and their analogues in various areas of physics, including ocean rogue waves. Applications include atmospheric remote sensing, meteorological modulation and giant wave prevention.
  • Quantum electronics – Prof. Alberto Morpurgo : The group’s work aims to study the electronic properties of new materials with the thickness of one (or a handful of) atomic layers. It also explores the possibility of using these materials to produce opto-electronic devices with new functionalities.
  • Climatic Change and Climate Impacts Research – Prof. Martin Beniston : Climate physics explores how the climate system functions using numerical models, and attempts to assess the environmental and economic impact of a climate disrupted by human activities during the course of the 21st century.