ELTE Physics on the frontline of science
Physics research at ELTE covers a broad spectrum, and we are proud to have world-renowned research groups in various fields. In the following, we describe five research directions currently pursued at the Physics Institute.
- Astrophysics research (partly as members of the LIGO Collaboration) has focused on (i) providing galaxy data for follow-up observations of gravitational-wave (GW) events and for a GW-based determination of the Hubble constant, (ii) contributing to the development of GW parameter estimation methods, and (iii) studying the formation and dynamics of GW sources in dense stellar clusters. We also work on the development of CubeSats to demonstrate that monitoring of gamma ray bursts, some of which are the electromagnetic counterparts of GW events, can be performed using low-cost nano-satellites.
- Research at ELTE in biophysics is focused on somatic evolution, which is the transformation of the genetic makeup of somatic cells over successive divisions. This process is usually detrimental, and can lead to aging, tissue deterioration, and cancer. Using statistical physical and graph theoretical tools, we have uncovered how multicellular organisms can minimize somatic evolution. In particular, we have pointed out that differentiation hierarchies in self-renewing tissues of large animals have evolved to minimize the length of cell lineages and, thus, prevent cancer. We could also demonstrate with a carefully orchestrated cell divisional mechanism that plants can sustain their genetic information for hundreds of years, even after generating tens of thousands of branches.
- Our main activity in materials physics lies in the experimental and theoretical investigations of the evolution of nanostructure in crystalline and amorphous materials. Over the past fifteen years, we have been involved in three Marie Curie RTN networks in this field, and we have established long-standing partnerships with laboratories all over the word. We are considered to be one of the leading laboratories in the fields of X-ray line profile analysis (an experimental technique for the determination of the defect microstructure) and the statistical theory of crystalline defects. Both of them are extremely important for designing new "functional" materials with the nanostructure required for the properties desired.
- We have several research groups working in particle physics, including both theory and experiment. Experimental physicists from ELTE participate in and lead research groups within the framework of large international collaborations, such as CMS at CERN, and PHENIX at RHIC. They work on the heavy-ion physics of nucleus-nucleus collisions, and search for new physics signals in proton-proton collisions. The theory groups explore the possible extensions of the standard model of particle physics, and record the details of the strong interaction. The latter is done by Monte-Carlo simulations performed on our local graphics card based computer cluster. We are proud that this computer system was the first large-scale cluster installed in the world for these types of calculations.
- We are members of the HunQuTech consortium which constitutes a critical mass of outstanding Hungarian research groups, allowing the Hungarian research and development community to take part in the explosive development of quantum technologies. We set up laboratories where we can isolate and control quantum objects: atoms, photons, electrons, and nuclear spins according to the laws of quantum mechanics. We develop tools to store and send quantum bits (the units of quantum information), create quantum entangled pairs, and develop quantum secure communication channels.
Our research activities have been funded by four ERC grants, five Momentum grants, three HAS research group grants, and the National Quantum Technology Programme. Our industrial partners involve C3S, Ericsson, Neddronix, Nokia-Bell Labs, and Spacemanic.