Research Centers

Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS)

The Center's scientific focus is on how nanoscale components can be integrated into large and complex interacting systems. It brings together the disciplines of chemistry, physics, engineering, materials science, geology, biology and medicine.

CNS is a member of the National Science Foundation’s National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) initiative to create a national network of world-class facilities available to all researchers. Through our CNS/NNIN User Program, the CNS facilities are available for use by researchers not just at Harvard, but by any academic or non-academic researchers in the country. The Center welcomes and encourages researchers from Harvard and beyond to take a look at the many facilities that it has to offer to assist in their research goals.

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with CNS:


Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature

This interdisciplinary theoretical research center aims to advance our basic knowledge of the universe through the interactive collaboration of physicists, mathematicians, and cosmologists.

Harvard high-energy physics faculty associated with the Center:


Center for Ultracold Atoms (CUA)

CUA brings together a community of scientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) to pursue research in the new fields that have been opened by the creation of ultracold atoms and quantum gases. The CUA is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CUA's research is currently organized around the themes of strongly correlated states of ultracold atoms and quantum state control of atoms and photons. The research is carried out in dedicated facilities at MIT and Harvard University by a community of approximately 100 graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, undergraduate students and visitors who work under the supervision of the Center's senior investigators in collaborative projects.

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with CUA:


Harvard Quantum Optics Center (HQOC)

The Harvard Quantum Optics Center (HQOC) aims to foster research and education in quantum optical science. We support interdisciplinary research and educational activities in fundamental and applied sciences involving light-matter interactions, ultra-cold matter, quantum sensing, metrology, quantum control, and new, related interfaces with chemistry, biology, and information science. We also aid in the support of areas of condensed matter research that have some connection to quantum optics. HQOC is currently wholly supported by Harvard University. To further the aims of the Center, there are several supported programs. These include a funding program for collaborative SEAS-FAS research and a Prize Postdoctoral fellowship program, which seeks to attract the most talented researchers to Harvard to collaborate with our faculty. We also aim to increase the connections between Harvard researchers and those associated with the Max Planck, IQQI, and ETCH Institutes in Europe, all world-renowned centers of quantum optics excellence. In addition to these programs, there are also resources to support innovative programs for undergraduate research and other short-term visitors, including seminar speakers. HQOC currently supports the weekly Condensed Matter Theory Seminar.

Harvard faculty associated with the Center:


Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA)

The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to study the basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. Some of its pioneering achievements include:

  • Development of instrumentation for orbiting observatories in space
  • Ground-based gamma-ray astronomy
  • The application of computers to problems of theoretical astrophysics, particularly stellar atmospheres

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with CfA:


Institute for Theoretical Atomic and Molecular Physics (ITAMP)

The Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics was established in November 1988 at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in order to address the critical shortage of theorists in atomic and molecular physics at major universities throughout the nation. The objectives of the Institute are: attracting and training graduate students of the highest quality in theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, maintaining an active visitors program to bring senior researchers together for varying lengths of time for scientific collaboration, and establishing a strong post-doctoral fellowship program as a source of potential University faculty.

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with ITAMP:


Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology (KIBST)

KIBST at Harvard University seeks to develop a deeper understanding of the functioning of life and biology at the nanoscale level. The most tangible outcomes of the KIBST will be the future discoveries, applications, and technologies that such foundational research enables.

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with KIBST:


Laboratory for Particle Physics and Cosmology (LPPC)

The Laboratory for Particle Physics and Cosmology carries out forefront programs in high energy physics research and provides first-rate educational opportunities for students. LPPC's experimental programs are carried out at the major accelerator centers throughout the world and addresse important questions both within and beyond the Standard Model. This year LPPC is expanding its program to include astrophysics with the intention to study the fundamental properties of dark energy.

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with LPPC:


Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC)

The Materials Research and Engineering Center is the focus of Harvard’s long tradition of interdisciplinary materials research. Twenty-six faculty members from the the DEAS, the Departments of Physics, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and the Harvard Medical School participate in the Center.

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with MRSEC:


Nanoscale Science Engineering Center (NSEC)

The Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center is a collaborative effort that combines "top down" and "bottom up" approaches to construct novel electronic and magnetic devices with nanoscale sizes and understand their behavior, including quantum phenomena. Through a close integration of research, education, and public outreach, NSEC encourages and promotes the training of a diverse group of people to be leaders in this new interdisciplinary field. 

Harvard Physics department faculty associated with NSEC:


Several collaborations and projects are also being carried out by Physics Department faculty and graduate students at centers outside of Cambridge: the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; the CERN in Geneva; the Cornell Wilson Synchrotron Laboratory; the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; the Soudan Mines in Northern Minnesota; and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.