Condensed Matter Theory

Condensed matter physics is the study of the immense variety of solids and liquids provided by nature or made by humans. Metals, magnets, ceramics, semiconductors, foams, membranes, superfluids, superconductors, granular systems, polymers, complex liquids, planetary interiors, and graphene are examples of the sorts of things we work on.

Solids and liquids are understood to the extent that the Schrödinger equation provides an accurate “grand unified theory” at the atomic scale. However, assemblies of huge numbers of simple objects often show emergent behaviour that could never have been guessed from their individual properties. One atom on its own is a dull thing, but the emergent properties of huge numbers of atoms give the world, and our subject, their astonishing variety and richness. The idea of emergence is not restricted to atoms. Our Complexity and Networks Group studies emergence in social and biological systems.

Understanding materials also enables us to develop new ones to perform according to our wish. Our group has world-leading expertise in 'condensed matter optics'. Using nano-photonics and plasmonics, we design 'metamaterials' to manipulate and harvest light with unprecedented control.

Our main research tools are mathematics, computers and imagination. We work closely with experimentalists and tackle problems with useful applications as well as fundamental scientific interest. Find out about our research.

PhD opportunitites

PhD opportunities in condensed matter theory at Imperial, including our Open Day in December.

Update April 2023: Our 2023 recruitment of funded PhD studentships has closed.