Research Areas

Below you will find descriptions of the research activities at Simon Fraser University.  For each area shown, there is a description of that area and links to the associated groups and faculty members. Please browse the web pages. You will find opportunities in every research field in our department. Feel free to contact any faculty member if you want information about the group, its activities, focus, and recent successes. If you would like departmental information, contact the Graduate Program Assistant.


Biophysics / Soft Matter

We have a strong, broad program in biological and so_ matter physics, one of the first to be offered in Canada, with a mix of researchers at various stages of their careers. We host weekly seminars, ranging from local speakers from various departments to international experts to journal club talks. Our graduate students co-organize a popular annual regional workshop (Frontiers of Biophysics) jointly with UBC. All of this activity helps create an unusually interactive group of researchers. Areas of particular expertise include molecular motors, single-molecule biophysics, nonequilibrium and information thermodynamics, systems biology, ion-conducting polymers, lipid and related systems, and development of new biophysics techniques. There are strong overlaps with statistical physics and materials physics, and many links to neighbouring departments (Chemistry, MBB, Biological Sciences, and Math).

Associated Groups & Faculty

Research Group Faculty Areas of Interest
Bechhoefer Group
John Bechhoefer
Statistical physics and biophysics
Emberly Research Group
Eldon Emberly Computational biology
Forde Lab Nancy Forde Molecular biophysics
Frisken Lab Barbara Frisken Soft matter systems
J. Thewalt Research Group Jenifer Thewalt Membrane structure and dynamics
Sivak Group
David Sivak
Theoretical/computational biophysics

Condensed Matter Physics

This interdisciplinary field touches on many aspects of physics and has strong overlap with chemistry and engineering science. Physicists have always been at the forefront of the study of new materials and this has led both to a fundamental understanding of their properties as well as revolutionary applications. Examples of materials studied at SFU include novel superconductors, graphene, semiconductor and magnetic nanostructures, topological quantum materials, as well as soft materials (see Soft Matter Physics area). Materials research in the physics department includes studies in fundamental theory, as well as strong efforts in the growth of new materials in addition to the development of novel methods for device fabrication and analysis of electrical, structural and optical properties. Materials researchers make heavy use of interdisciplinary facilities including TRIUMF and the SFU 4D LABS, as well as a wide range of specialized tools.

Associated Groups & Faculty

Research Group Faculty Areas of Interest
Broun Lab
David Broun
Electrodynamics and phenomenology of unconventional superconductors and metals
Dodge Group
J. Steven Dodge Quantum matter and nonlinear optics
Emerging Materials Lab Eundeok Mun Design and synthesis of novel materials, magnetism, superconductivity, quantum criticality
Herbut Research Group Igor Herbut Quantum condensed matter theory
Kavanagh Lab Karen Kavanagh Nanoscience and interfaces
Kennett Research Group
Malcolm Kennett
Quantum condensed matter theory
MOCVD Research Laboratory Simon Watkins Semiconductor growth
Sillicon Quantum Technology Stephanie Simons, Michael Thewalt Hybrid spin/photon quantum devices
Sonier Research Group Jeff Sonier Superconductivity and quantum materials
Surface Science Laboratory Erol Girt, Brett Heinrich Thin film magnetism

Particle Physics / Cosmology

The SFU experimental High Energy Physics group plays a leading role in the CERN-based ATLAS collaboration which discovered the long-sought Higgs boson in 2012 — the most significant discovery in particle physics in almost 40 years. We continue to study and learn more about the properties of the Higgs boson, search for signs of new Physics using so-called Long-Lived Particles, and make instrumental contributions in preparing the detector for these results (e.g. energy calibration, particle track and vertex reconstruction algorithms). The SFU group has also led major computing projects, in particular the ATLAS-Canada Tier-1 Data Centre, helping to develop the international computing grid to analyze the huge amount of data produced by ATLAS. The SFU gorup is also a major player in Canada for building components for the ATLAS New Inner Tracking Detector (ITk) - with production sites at SFU and TRIUMF - to maintain and enhance the discovery potential of the experiment during the scheduled High-Luminosity LHC. We also have an active experimental high-energy neutrino program related to the Pacific Ocean Neutrino Experiment, a new initiative to construct one of the world’s largest neutrino detectors in the deep Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia.

Theoretical cosmology and astroparticle research at SFU concerns a broad range of topics including black holes, inflation, dark energy, modified gravity, topological defects, primordial magnetic fields, dark matter candidates and neutrinos, with the focus on phenomenology and developing methods and numerical tools for testing new theoretical ideas against data from astronomical surveys, gravitational wave observatories and particle detectors. SFU faculty are members of international collaborations working on cosmic microwave background experiments, namely, the Planck satellite team, the Simons Observatory and CMB-S4. Theoretical and numerical tools for cosmological tests of gravity developed at SFU are used by large-scale galaxy surveys collaborations, such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Dark Energy Survey, Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument and others.

Associated Groups & Faculty

Research Group Faculty Areas of Interest
Andrei Frolov Cosmic microwave background foregrounds, black holes, early universe
Cosmology Levon Pogosian Dark energy, modified gravity, primordial magnetic fields, cosmic strings and other topological defects
Cosmology & High Energy Physics
Gopolang Mohlabeng
Particle physics phenomenology, dark matter, neutrinos, particle cosmology
High Energy Physics
Matthias Danninger Particle physics experiment, ATLAS, P-ONE
High Energy Physics Dugan O'Neil Particle physics experiment
High Energy Physics Bernd Stelzer Particle physics experiment, ATLAS
High Energy Physics Michel Vetterli Particle physics experiment, ATLAS

Quantum Information/Atomic, Molecular, Optical Physics

QI/AMO is a subfield of Physics that involves the study of atoms, molecules, electrons, and light, and their various interactions. Historically it encompassed the experiments and ideas that underpin quantum mechanics, and led to the development of the laser and the standardization of time. Today it pushes the limits of knowledge on many fronts including the study of atoms at ultra-low temperatures, many-body effects, quantum degeneracy, and precision measurements of fundamental interactions.

Associated Groups & Faculty

Research Group Faculty Areas of Interest
Haljan Group
Paul Haljan
Trapped ion quantum computing
Hayden Group
Mike Hayden Magnetic resonance and prescision atomic measurement
Kennett Research Group Malcolm Kennett Quantum condensed matter theory
McGuirk Group Jeff McGuirk Atomic physics, and Bose-Einstein condensates
RIS Group Jens Lassen Resonant ionization spectroscopy group
Silicon Quantum Technology
Stephanie Simons, Mike Thewalt Hybrid spin/photon quantum devices
Theoretical Quantum Information Science
Kero Lau Theoretical quantum optics/information


Theoretical Physics research at SFU is concerned with gaining insight into the properties of matter from sub-atomic length scales to the scale of the universe itself, and with understanding the properties of novel materials and biological systems. Theorists at SFU collaborate with other theorists, and with experimentalists at SFU, within Canada and internationally, to understand and explain their data and make predictions for future experiments. These efforts encompass all of the research areas of the department: Quantum Information, Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Cosmology, and Biophysics. The groups use a wide range of techniques, including quantum field theory, statistical mechanics and extensive numerical simulations using high performance computing.

Associated Groups & Faculty

Research Group Faculty Areas of Interest
Cosmology Andrei Frolov, Levon Pogosian Origin, composition and evolution of the universe
Emberly Research Group
Eldon Emberly Computational biology
Herbut Research Group Igor Herbut Quantum condensed matter theory
Kennett Research Group
Malcolm Kennett
Quantum condensed matter theory
Sivak Group David Sivak Theoretical/computational biophysics
Theoretical Quantum Information Science Kero Lau Theoretical quantum optics/information