Research


The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western University is a multi-faceted, diverse, and collaborative research environment that addresses key questions and connects world-renowned expertise with relevant communities. Our research efforts within the Faculty of Science  aim to drive important discoveries that address key issues facing society and to translate this research into tangible benefits for Canadians. For more information, read our Research Plan (.pdf).

Our Department differentiates itself not just by its expertise in materials science, medical physics, astrophysics, and planetary science, but in its ability to combine skills in these areas to address big questions like the study of the cosmos from galaxies to atmospheres and manipulation of molecules to develop new materials for medical applications.

We are proud to boast over 30 NSERC-funded researchers, some of whom are Canada Research Chairs, and over 37 active NSERC-funded grants. We developed and cultivated numerous links between academic and industrial partners, and with some of the finest research facilities in Canada. Our researchers are highly collaborative and passionate in their pursuit of research excellence and in educating the next generation of scientists and innovative thinkers.

We are strongly positioned to train students in a unique interdisciplinary context and to link this education to the world beyond university. Our Facilities  and dedicated staff support the research goals of our faculty with expertise in their field and world-class fabrication equipment.

Electrostatic Generator

Our physics faculty are a diverse group of researchers cooperating across a broad range of specialties to solve novel problems in collaboration with other Western researchers as well as those from external universities, government and industrial research laboratories. Condensed matter specialists engage in theoretical and experimental research, ranging from computational studies on the quantum properties of solids to world-class materials research in nanotechnology. Our medical physics group innovates with new technology to improve MRI and fMRI systems, researches ultrasound imaging and modelling, and studies methods of improving radiation treatments for cancer. Planetary science investigators encompass a rich and diverse set of disciplines and engage in research including the study of planetary systems and planet formation, discovering and tracking comets, meteors, meteorites and near-earth asteroids, and atmospheric studies to measure temperature, composition and wind speed at high altitudes.

Galaxy Image, Photo Credit: NASA

Western’s astronomers are a highly collaborative group who collectively possess expertise stretching from the largest scales of structure in the universe to the small scales of planetary formation, studying the gas and dust in the interstellar medium in between solar systems and supermassive black holes lurking in the centres of galaxies. Researchers use the newest and most powerful telescopes and develop new instruments to study events from the formation and development of galaxies to witnessing meteors entering our atmosphere. They address questions about the birth, life and death of solar systems, planets, and stars, and reveal new information about their structures, atmospheres and magnetic fields. Our faculty also use innovative computational modelling techniques to study the interstellar medium and circumstellar material surrounding massive stars, applying complex theoretical methods with increasingly powerful computers to address major problems in astrophysics.

xMR Research Laboratories

With a primary focus on the imaging modality of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), the xMR group works to develop new techniques and improve upon existing technologies for imaging inside the human body, and has research programs involving modelling, design, construction, simulation and testing with MRI systems at multiple magnetic field strengths.


Western Meteor Physics Group

With the only cooperative agreement between NASA and a Canadian university, the WMPG provides real-time measurements of the meteoroid environment to NASA for spaceflight operations and develops meteoroid environment models for spacecraft impact hazard assessment.


Carbon-Based Nanomaterials and Nano-Optoelectronics Group

Research encompasses the preparation of carbon-based and organic nanomaterials and their use for the fabrication of optical and electronic devices such as thin film transistors and solar cells. Applications include memory devices, water filtration, graphene thin films and advanced microscopy techniques.


Interface Science Western

Home of the Tandetron Accelerator Facility, ISW is a part of the Canadian Charged Particle Accelerator Consortium (CCPAC). This facility allows users to undertake a broad range of materials research projects using ion beam analysis and ion implantation.


Purple Crow LIDAR

Operating from the Echo Base Observatory at Western’s Environmental Science Field Station, PCL uses laser radar (LIDAR) to emit powerful pulses of light and collects the reflected light to measure atmospheric conditions.


Centre for Advanced Materials and Biomaterials Research

CAMBR is an organization consisting of approximately 50 research groups with a mission to bring together trainees, researchers, and partners, to connect them with the resources needed to tackle important multidisciplinary materials and biomaterials challenges, and to translate and promote their discoveries.


Fingerprinting the Stars

Jan Cami Buckyballs and Starlight Story
By the time starlight reaches our telescopes, it is full of data about the chemical composition of planets, nebulae, and galaxies.

Fireball Hazards

Fireball Hazards
The meteors we track travel at 60 times the speed of sound. At that pace we have to be right about their trajectories the first time.

The Next Hubble: The James Webb Space Telescope

The Next Hubble: The James Webb Space Telescope
Dr. Els Peeters gives an all-you-need-to-know audio exhibit of the revolutionary telescope that will follow in Hubble's footsteps.

Capturing the first-ever human-made meteor shower

Paul Wiegert Story
NASA's DART mission and ESA's HERA prjoect will result in an extensive debris field, which may end up falling to Earth. Studying this human-made metoer shower will be a first.

The Physics of Cancer

The Physics of Cancer
Dr. Eugene Wong explores the wide variety of imaging technologies he uses to better understand the contexts in which cancerous tumors grow.

Black Holes: The Draw of the Galactic Abyss

Black holes podcast
Dr. Sarah Gallagher discusses what we know about black holes, some common misconceptions about them, and a few of the most interesting theories.