Institute of Physics: A Profile

Dr. R. K. Choudhury
Director, Insitute of Physics


The Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar is an autonomous research institution of the DAE. The Institute was established in 1972 by the Government of Orissa as an All-India Institute of Research and Advanced Studies, with a board of Governors consisting of leading academicians of the country.


The objectives of the institution are to promote fundamental and applied research in all branches of physics and allied disciplines, to establish fruitful contacts with universities and academic bodies and to undertake training of high level manpower in science and technology of national importance. The Institute carries out research programmes in the frontline areas of high energy physics, condensed matter, atomic and nuclear physics and accelerator based applications.


Early Periods:


In the formative periods during 1974, the Institute started theoretical research programmes in the various branches of physics. An experimental physics research programme in a small scale was also added to the activities of the Institute. Almost simultaneously, a one year Pre-Doctoral Course Programme was started. This programme has infused young and enthusiastic manpower to the Institute for carrying out the frontline research in different fields. On Sept. 4, 1981, the Institute moved to the present campus, situated on 50 acre of land on the Nandankanan road. The Institute was taken over by the DAE, India on March 25, 1985 as an autonomous body.


Research Programmes:

  1. Theoretical Research:- The Institute is pursuing theoretical research in the frontline areas of condensed matter, nuclear and high energy physics. In the high energy and particle physics research, the Institute has made fundamental contributions in field theories, phase transitions in early universe, cosmology, the Planck scale phenomena, string theory and high energy phenomenology etc. The theoretical research in condensed matter physics has been pursued in disordered systems, magnetism, super-conductivity, low dimensional systems, statistical physics, strongly correlated systems, phase transitions, clusters and nanomaterials. The research in nuclear physics is in the areas of nuclear structure, ground state properties of nuclei, high angular momentum states, quark structure of nuclei and quark gluon plasma etc. The nuclear theory group has also carried out extensive work in the area of nuclear spectroscopy related to structure changes as function of spin and excitation energy.
  2. Experimental Research
  3. Ion Beam Laboratory:- The Ion Beam Laboratory (IBL) is based around a 3 MV tandem pelletron accelerator of the model 9SDH of NEC, USA, which was procured towards the end of 1980’s. The accelerator provides a variety of ion beams from protons to heavy ions. The programmes being undertaken on the accelerator include Rutherford back scattering, particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE), accelerator mass spectrometry, channelling, ion implantation, surface modification and characterization, microbeam analysis and nuclear reaction studies and others.

The facilities existing in the laboratory are described below:


Main accelerator tank

  1. Accelerator Mass Spectomertry (AMS): The method of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry is applied to carry out the measurement of the age of the samples using the cosmogenic nuclides of carbon-14 and beryllium-10. The radiocarbon dating (carbon-14) has applications in a vast number of areas such as geology, archeology, oceanography, environmental science etc. The AMS project was jointly funded by DAE, Department of Science & Technology (DST), Department of Space (DOS), Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). and has been completed for carbon-14 analysis for regular use.

    A view of the External Beam Line

  2. Microbeam Facility: Using special beam collimation and focussing techniques, ion-beam of spatial resolution of 2 microns have been achieved. The sample chamber houses three detectors: a Si (Li) detector to analyze X-rays, a surface barrier detector to analyse back scattered ions and an aluminized plastic scintillator for detecting back scattered secondary electrons from the target. The sample and the ion beam can be moved in a programmed way to obtain an elemental mapping with a few micron resolution.
  3. External Beam Facility: An external beam PIXE facility has been setup for sample irradiation in air, which makes it possible to analyse samples of bulk size and biological and liquid specimens. This facility has important applications also in the analysis of art and museum objects.


    Some of the research activities carried out at the laboratory include ion implantation and damage studies of various materials and investigations. Phase transitions in surface layers induced by ion bombardment have also been studied in detail. Other experiments include studies of the magnetic properties of miniaturized cryogenic Si-diodes using a SQUID magnetometer. The properties have been studied in the liquid helium temperature range.

Advanced Research Facilities:


The Institute has acquired several advanced research facilities such as the ESCA (Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis) or XPS system, the High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscope (HRTEM), the Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) facility, the Cluster Generator and Nanomaterials Research facility. The later includes the Laser Raman Sepectrometer with a Microscope, the Photospectrometer and the Photo-luminiscence (PL) measuring equipments.


X-ray Photo-electron Spectrometer facility


X-ray Photo-electron Spectrometer (XPS) facility utilizes photo-ionization and energy dispersive analysis of the emitted photoelectrons to study the composition and electronic states of the surface region of a sample. The XPS system has a dual X-ray Anode (Mg/Al) and the sample can be aligned by a manipulator. The system is also equipped with a residual gas analyzer and can be utilized for desorption studies.


Transmission Electron Microscope Facility


A 200 keV High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscope (HRTEM) with point-to-point resolution of 0.19 nanometer has been recently installed at the Institute. This facility is being used by many research groups to study morphological and crystallographic information in various materials down to atomic scales. A precision ion polishing system, an ultrasonic disc cutter and a dimple grinder facilitate the preparation of thin electron transparent specimens.


Molecular Beam Epitaxy Setup


A compact Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE)facility for growing thin epitaxial layers of metals and semiconductors and self-assembled nanostructures on semiconductor surfaces has been installed at the Institute. The Epitaxy system is being used for growth and study of Si and Ge multilayers in atomic dimensions.


Cluster and Nanostructure Laboratory


Cluster and Nanomaterials Research:


A Low Energy Cluster Beam Deposition (LECBD) facility for synthesizing cluster assembled nanomaterials has been developed.


For mass analysis of clusters, a time of flight set-up at right angle to the source chamber is in the process of development. Currently, Sb and Se clusters have been synthesized on Si and glass substrates. The chara-cterisation facilities for the cluster and nanomaterial studies include the photoluminiscence setup and laser micro-Raman spectrometer.


Using chemical and electrochemical techniques, semiconductor compound nanomaterials such as CdS, HgS, PbS, GaAs, CdSe etc. have been synthesized. Some of these materials exhibit very interesting photoluminescence characteristics making them as potential UV-sensors. Research is being carried out to fabricate and characterize semiconductor nano-devices and use nanomaterials as biological sensors.


International Collaborations:


The institute is participating in the ALICE collaboration experiment at LHC in CERN and STAR and PHENIX experiments at Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven National Laboratory. The PMD group in India of which the Institute of Physics is a part, is building the photon multiplicity detector to detect the photons produced in the relativistic heavy ion collisions. Using this detector, one can reconstruct the photon signals after discriminating the charged particles falling on the detector. Simulation studies and software developments have been successfully completed for reconstructing particle hits (both photon and charged particles).


Pre-doctoral and Doctoral Programmes:


The Institute of Physics runs a one year Predoctoral Programme. The candidates for the predoctoral course numbering about 10-12 on the average per year are selected. The prime objective of the programme is to train the scholars in the advanced methodologies of experimental and theoretical physics. The scholars are awarded a predoctoral diploma which is considered to be equivalent to the M.Phil degree of the Universities of Orissa and then work towards Ph.D. degree.


Library & Computer Centre:



The Institute’s library provides an up-to-date collection of important physics journals and books. The ANUNET has also been installed at the Institute, which enables inter-DAE communication, library transfer and digital library facility. The library being the only modern physics library in the state, the facilities are extensively used by scholars, teachers and students from all over the state.


The computer facilities include twenty workstations and ninety PC’s. The PC’s are connected by Local Area Network (LAN). Sixteen Pentium-III PC’s have been configured in a cluster to execute jobs in parallel processing mode. The computer centre of the Institute also offers its facilities to users from different colleges and universities of the state.


Conferences, Symposia and Other Activities:


The Institute organises conferences, seminars, schools and refresher courses on regular basis. The alumni association of the Institute also organizes various activities such as debate competitions as well as science project competitions for the school students.


The Institute provides support and encouragement to teachers from various colleges and universities of the region for carrying out research work in terms of short-term visits during summer and other vacation periods. It also runs a summer scholars programme under which several post-graduate students from all over the country spend about a month working on various projects. There is an optical telescope setup for demonstration and viewing of astronomical objects.


As one of the relatively younger institutes of the DAE, the Institute of Physics has grown over the decades to be one of the important research centers in the country for basic and applied sciences. It has a lot of growth potential to expand into many advanced areas of research for contributing to the progress of science and technology in the country.