Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science
AGH University of Science and Technology

Research activities

The most important research activities of the Faculty include basic and applied researches in solid state physics, nuclear physics, environmental physics, medical physics and computer methods and numerical techniques.

Department of Applied Informatics and Computational Physics

Research is conducted in a few threads; below the topics are mentioned which are concentrated in the Complex Systems Group. One of them is connected with the collaboration with the Departmento Fisica de Materiales at the Universidad del Pais Vasco, Spain. This research deals with modeling the stray field of amorphous microscopic wires of complex domain structure, including simulations of the process of remagnetization of these wires due to their bistability. Another research deals with modeling sociological processes in general frames of game theory. Since 2009, the subject is conducted in frames of 7FP EU on applications of complexity theory to socio-technical systems. Our contribution is based on our earlier experiences on cellular automata and complex networks, and it is a continuation of these topics. Our new direction of research is biometrics. This research area deals with the applications of computer science, in particular the pattern recognition, to the methods of human identification and verification.

Department of Applied Nuclear Physics

Department Applied Nuclear Physics (DANP) is composed of three groups: (i) Environmental Physics Group, (ii) Nuclear Methods Group, and (iii) Functional Materials Group. Research activities of DANP cover selected topics of nuclear physics and its applications in areas such as environmental sciences, material sciences as well as industrial applications of nuclear methodologies. Moreover, DANP is responsible for two specializations being thought in the framework of the Technical Physics discipline offered by the Faculty at B.Sc. and M.Sc. level.

Major instrumentation available at DANP:

  • an arc melting system with contact-less ignition for synthesis of materials,
  • a system to measure magnetoelectric effect of materials,
  • analytical system for low-level tritium assay in natural waters,
  • analytical systems for determination of isotope ratios of light elements (2H/1H, 13C/12C, 14C/12C, 15N/14N, 18O/16O) in environmental materials (water, rocks and deposits, gases, organic matter),
  • analytical systems for detection of trace compounds (ppm, ppb, and ppt level) in the atmosphere.

Department of Medical Physics and Biophysics

The Department of Medical Physics and Biophysics was reorganized in September 2009. The part of the Nuclear Methods Group was transferred form Department of Applied Nuclear Physics to DMPB. A new established team was named Biomedical and Environmental Research Group. Also the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Group and Biomedical Imaging and Modelling Group have been merged since September 2009 following retirement of prof. Marta Wasilewska-Radwańska. The new group named Biomedical Imaging and Modeling Group under leadership of prof. Henryk Figiel was established. The scientific profile of the group continues activities of the joined groups.

Our research interests include two areas: (1) solid state physics and (2) bio-farmaceutico-medical physics. Our current activities of the former are concentrated on experimental and theoretical investigation of various physical properties of the sigma-phase in binary alloy systems (e. g. FeCr, FeV, CoCr) as well as dynamical properties of poly- and nanocrystalline bcc Fe-Cr alloys, using various experimental (e. g. Mössbauer Spectroscopy, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Neutron Diffraction, Magnetometry) and theoretical (e. g. Korringa-Kohn-Rostoker Green’s function) methods. Regarding the latter, we are interested in forms and properties of iron present in samples of an organic origin (e. g. ferritin) as well as those having application in medicine (e.g. medicaments).

Research concerning MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is focused on the low-field imaging systems based on permanent magnets. The other research interest of the group encompasses problems related to cancer radio- and phototherapy of melanomas and free radical processes in biology. These include both experimental and theoretical investigations. The group develops mathematical modeling of selected physiological processes. It focuses especially on application of compartment modeling for extracorporeal liver support therapy. The scientific activity of the group concerns also nuclear medicine diagnostic imaging and QA (Quality Assurance) procedures and in this field designing of phantoms for static and dynamic studies was succesfuly developed.

The research at the Biomedical and Environmental Research Group relates to the development and application of nuclear analytical methods and examination of dynamic systems. The main topics of interest are biomedical research, environmental science, and protection of cultural heritage. Of particular importance is the investigation of the role of biomodulators in the biochemical mechanisms of the pathogenesis and progress of brain gliomas, neurodegeneration, and epilepsy. The elemental and molecular chemical micro imaging is performed with the use of the techniques based on synchrotron radiation, i.e. synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence (SRXRF), X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy, extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy and Fourier transform infrared micro spectroscopy (FTIR).

Another research topics of interest are development and applications of methods based on X-ray micro-beams for investigating chemical element distributions in heterogeneous samples and utilization of coherent synchrotron beams in studies of living organisms. A research is conducted on utilization of coherent synchrotron beam for investigating the morphology/physiology of insect- vectors transmitting malaria (anopheles mosquito) and African trypanosomiasis (glossina fly) dise- ases. The investigations in environmental science are connected with the influence of air pollution on cultural heritage and on urban and rural environments. Samples of air particulate matter are collec- ted in historical buildings (churches, museums) and in urban and rural areas. Statistical methods are used for identification of possible sources of air pollutants emission. The scope of research is also application of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods for predi- ction of related physical phenomena and evolution of dynamic system. The CFD results are valida- ted by radiotracer experiments. These methods have been applied to characterize flow in jet mixers and in hydrocyclone classifiers.

The laboratory is equipped with state-of-art facilities including X-ray fluorescence and infrared confocal microscopes, multifunctional X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for localized and bulk ultra trace analysis of organic (infrared microscopy) and inorganic (X-ray fluorescence) compounds in various kinds of samples.

Molecular Biophysics and Bioenergetics Group research is focused on:

  • electron transport in PSII and bacterial reaction centers (with special interest in influence of heavy metal ions and role of non-hem iron);
  • oxygen evolution in PSII;
  • structure, organization and physical/chemical properties of native and model protein-lipid systems; protective and structural functions of carotenoids in native and model photosynthetic complexes;
  • physical properties - topography, elasticity, adhesion forces - of normal and pathological cells and their organelles, and determination of the influence of selected stimuli on these properties in both cell types;
  • analyzing the influence of mechanical properties of biopolymers on cell vital functions such as migration, proliferation and adhesion;
  • influence of ionization radiation and metal ions on membrane stability of human erythrocytes;
  • physical and chemical characterization of carbon nanotubes;

Department of Condensed Matter Physics

Scientific activities of the Department are mainly focused on the following topics:

  • Properties and symmetry analysis of selected phases of ordered structures
  • Studies of aperiodic structures
  • Deformation, recrystallisation and stress in materials
  • Electron structure of the solid state
  • Polymer research
  • Theory of measurement uncertainty

Department of Particle Interactions and Detection Techniques

The scientific activities of the Department cover three areas of research:

  • basic research of elementary constituents of the matter and their interactions in high energy collisions
  • design and construction of detectors and readout electronics for high energy physics experiments and other applications
  • instrumentation for neuroscience experiment and investigation of interfaces between electronic circuits and live neuronal tissues.

The high energy physics experiments are long term projects and because of high cost of large accelerators and detection facilities they are performed usually by large international collaborations. Our participation in those experiments is as complete as possible and covers often all phases of the projects: preparations of the research programs, design and construction of the experimental apparatus, data analyses as well as maintenance and upgrade of detector systems. Currently we participate in data analyses from three experiments:

  • ATLAS at the LHC (CERN),
  • LHCb at the LHC (CERN),
  • STAR at RHIC (BNL).
in which proton or heavy ion beams are collided at different energies and different beam combinations.

In parallel, we carry out R&D programs aiming at development of the detector concepts and new detector technologies for an upgrade of the ATLAS experiment and for a future experiment at the International Linear Collider. The activity in the area of front-end electronics focuses on development of circuits and system for readout of position sensitive detectors employing Application Specific Integrated Circuits. The Department is a member of the EUROPRACTICE organisation, which offers access to CAD tools and prototyping using advanced semiconductor technologies. We carry out development of readout ASICs for the following detector technologies:

  • tracking detectors for high energy physics experiments based on silicon microstrip detectors,
  • detectors for X-ray imaging based on silicon microstrip detectors,
  • detectors for neutron imaging based on Micro Strip Gas Chambers (MSGC),
  • detectors for charge particles and X-ray imaging based on Gas Electron Multipliers (GEM).

Particular attention is paid to radiation effects in semiconductor devices and circuits, which are of primary importance in the front-end electronics for readout of silicon strip detectors in the high energy physics experiments.

In the area of neuroscience we focus on development of systems for imaging of neural activity in live neural tissues. A common aim of various research projects is to develop two ways communication between live neurons and electronic circuits, which require electrical stimulation of neurons with arbitrary spatial and temporal patterns and simultaneous recording of elicited neuron responses. The developed experimental systems are based on multielectrode arrays array and ASICs. In collaboration with various collaborators in the area of neuroscience we develop specific systems for investigation of different neural tissues, including retina, brain, cortex, and participate also in analysis of data from neuroscience experiments.

Department of Solid State Physics

Scientific activity of the Department concentrates on the studies of structural, magnetic and electronic properties and phenomena in the nano- and sub-nanometric thin films and multilayers, in the rare earth-3d element intermetallics and their interstitial solutions of hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen, in superconductors, including the HTc ones, in magnetic oxides, including the colossal - and low field magnetoresistive ones, in nanoparticle magnetic materials for MRI contrast and magnetic hyperthermia as well as in disordered metallic materials.

The experimental facilities of the Department include:

  • MBE set-up for preparation and analysis of thin films and nanostructures, equipped with LEED, AES, MOKE and CEMS with UHV sample transfer possibility.
  • ARUPS-XPS spectrometer.
  • VSM, AC susceptometer, ESR spectrometer, set-up for magnetoresistance measurements with closed circle refrigerator and calorimeter for specific heat measurements in 2-300 K range.
  • X-ray diffractometer with temperature controll within 2-450 K range.
  • Physical Property Measurement System (Quantum Design model, closed circle liquifier) equipped with 9 Tesla magnet, 2-400 K (VSM: 2-1100 K) temperature range.
  • Moessbauer spectrometers (4) for 6 isotopes, 4-1000 K temperature range.
  • NMR spectrometers for proton resonance (15 MHz) and for magnetic materials, 5-1000 MHz, closed circle refrigerator, 2-300 K.

The research staff of the Department extensively uses synchrotron beamlines as well as neutron and muon facilities at the laboratories abroad.

Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science