Research Lines

The research at the IFT is centered on Theoretical Physics, and is aimed at uncovering and understanding the basic laws explaining the behaviour of the physical world we live in, from the smallest length scales (like those of elementary particle physics) to the largest ones (for instance, at the cosmological level). There are several lines of research developed at the IFT:

The origin of mass

We would like to understand what is the origin of the mass of all elementary particles. A tremendous step ahead has been recently given at CERN with the discovery of a bosonic particle with a 126 GeV mass at the LHC. This mass value challenges some of the simplest ideas for physics beyond the Standard Model (SM) and it is still open whether this is the SM Higgs or some other scalar with analogous couplings. The physics of the Higgs particle is one of the priorities in the field in years to come. At the same time, the origin of the spectrum of fermion masses and mixings in the SM still remains to be understood. The progress in the last two decades concerning neutrino masses and mixing has been impressive. The recent measurement of the 3rd-first generation neutrino mixing is also telling us that future neutrino factories would be able to detect CP violation in the neutrino system. This could have profound implications in our understanding of the origin of the matter anti-matter asymmetry. In this connection the LHCb, CMS and ATLAS experiments will also improve our understanding of heavy quark physics and their mixing and CP-violation in an unprecedented manner.

Research sub-lines in this area include:

  • Higgs physics, Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) physics and LHC
  • Flavour and Neutrino Physics

Quantum Fields, Gravity and Strings

One of the key objectives of Particle Physics is to provide a deep understanding of the fundamental forces of Nature. In this respect, making compatible quantum mechanics and Einstein's gravity is one of the major challenges of this century theoretical physics. String theory is the leading candidate for a consistent theory of quantum gravity and at the same time has a structure which is just rich enough to contain the essential ingredients of the SM. String theory also allows for an understanding of the microscopic degrees of freedom of black holes and provides a rich arena of connections with field theory (through holography and the AdS-CFT correspondence) and even with other strongly coupled systems in condensed matter and heavy ion physics. Field theory is itself the fundamental tool in particle physics. Still the understanding of its non-perturbative aspects remains challenging. A leading technique in dealing with strongly coupled phenomena is lattice field theory. This has been applied both to the study of general properties of field theories as well as to the computation of QCD quantities and matrix elements which can at present be computed with unprecedented precision.

Research sub-lines in this area include:

  • Holography, Strings and applications of the AdS/CFT correspondence to the study of strongly coupled quantum field theories
  • Gravitation
  • String Phenomenology
  • Lattice Field Theory

The origin and composition of the Universe

High Energy Physics is intimately connected with physics at large scales, at the Astrophysics and Cosmological levels. Thus the physics of the ultimate constituents of matter has an impact on the cosmological evolution of the universe. On the other hand Astrophysics also constraints the properties of elementary particles. In this connection the search for dark matter is particularly relevant. Direct detection experiments like CDMS or XENON are challenging many dark matter models. Experiments like Fermi are testing the high-energy spectrum of cosmic rays with unprecedented precision. Cosmology has entered a precision era and the improvements in the measurement of the CMB and the search for primordial gravitational waves will allow us to test large classes of inflationary models. Large surveys of galaxies like DES, Euclid, PAU and DESI will give us precious information about the properties of Dark Energy. All these data will further restrict the models of particle physics.

Research sub-lines in this area include:

  • Early Universe Cosmology
  • Dark Energy
  • Astroparticle Physics and Dark Matter

Theoretical Condensed Matter and Quantum Information

This line aims at developing an interdisciplinary field at the IFT at the frontier of condensed matter physics, quantum optics and quantum information theory, with the challenges of facing fundamental open questions in the understanding of quantum many-body systems and exploring quantum many- body entanglement for new paradigms of quantum information processing. The tools employed are based on the recent developments in Quantum Information Theory combined with the traditional techniques based on Conformal Field Theory and Integrable Systems.