Research is organized around four themes:
- Astroparticle Physics the frontier of high-energy physics is 'the even smaller' and that of astrophysics is 'the ever larger'. Ultimate aim is to unravel the mechanisms underlying our present theory of particle physics and enhance our understanding of the structure and evolution of the cosmos.
- Physics of Energy one of the major challenges of the next decades is the energy problem. Here physicists work on new ways of generating and storing energy.
- Physics of Life and Health where the frontier is the ever more complex, covering the interfaces of physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. The VU University, with the departments of Physics, Chemistry, Earth and Life Sciences and the VU medical center nearby, is uniquely suited for innovative research in this area.
- Physics of Light , the 21st century has been identified as the ‘century of the photon’. Within the Laser Centre VU advanced laser technology is developed, such as frequency combs and extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, and tools to cool and manupulate atoms, ions and molecules with lasers and electromagnetic fields to study fundamental physical processes at the atomic scale.
Part of the research is organized in the Lasercentre where laser-oriented research activities of several groups from different disciplines in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology are concentrated.
In a coordinated effort, supported by NWO, physicists from LCVU develop A facility for advanced laser-based microscopy at LCVU , for applications within Physics of Life and Health, in collaboration with researchers from FALW and the VU medical center.
The Physics Department is one of the partners participating in the Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam .
The Physical Practica & Didactics group is responsible for the training of experimental skills of undergraduate students and the development of new didactical methods.