The Department of Physical Sciences at IISER Kolkata, often called as δ π σ or simply DPS, officially began its journey on 25 June, 2009. While the formative years of DPS have been challenging, our laboratories and research groups have steadily grown in numbers, expertise and ability. We have learnt to leverage our research strengths by collaborating with one another. Our togetherness has yielded yet more: even as we have focused on working on the fundamentals of basic physics, we have enjoyed working in inter-disciplinary areas by joining hands. This is also reflected in a steady output of research publications, a significant number of which are in the very best Physics journals.
Our research portfolio encompasses almost all major areas of physics, exploring ideas and phenomena that range of over several orders of magnitude not only in terms of length but also in energy and time. This ranges from the search for exotic particles inside colliders to understanding the complex phenomenology of a collection of particles placed in extreme conditions (e.g., temperatures, pressures and magnetic fields). Several of us are working towards understanding the basis of life and evolution, order and chaos. While some ponder the mechanics of biological systems, others are working on quantizing gravity and hunting for gravitational waves. Some focus on the magneto-hydrodynamics of the Sun and worry about the weather in space. With a diverse faculty possessing a wide variety of research interests, DPS engenders a truly vibrant atmosphere. Our members seek to pose cutting-edge questions, and answer them adopting a blend of creativity, ingenuity and state-of-the-art research methods.
At DPS, we have committed ourselves to the cause of communicating to and involving our students in the ideas, concepts and excitement of being in the immense and wonderful realm of physics. In addition, our aim is to ensure that when our students graduate, they have in their arsenal the theoretical and experimental tools that will enable them to become successful researchers as well as teachers in their own right. In this, it is our constant endeavour to expose our students to the very best of present-day research methods and practices, in physics as well as in related interdisciplinary fields.
Message from the Chair
Prof. Ayan Banerjee
Chairman, Department of Physical Sciences
+91 33 6136 0000 Extn: 1163
dps.office AT iiserkol.ac.in;
DPS: towards generating excellence as an emergent phenomenon
In keeping with the old adage which says that rich journeys begin humbly, the journey of the first faculty members and students, later to be associated with the Department of Physical Sciences (DPS) at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, began in 2006 from a few rented offices and classrooms in the Salt Lake (Kolkata) campus of IIT Kharagpur. Since then, two movements with lock, stock and barrel happened: first to a temporary campus at Mohanpur, Nadia in 2009 (as tenants of the University of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Sciences of West Bengal) – where DPS was named and formally designated as a department in IISER Kolkata, and then to the permanent IISER Kolkata campus a few kilometres away in 2016. Most importantly, all of this happened while an extensive teaching curriculum was being taught to students with ages ranging from their undergraduate years in Physics to the early years of their PhD. Amidst all the hustle bustle and disruptions of the past 13 years, DPS has established high standards of excellence in research and teaching among the community within India and abroad, with an enterprising and ambitious set of faculty members, post-doctoral and doctoral research scholars and undergraduate students. The department’s endeavours are ably supported by a small group of energetic support staff.
The teaching program at DPS strives to provide quality education through lecture and laboratory courses spanning a large number of branches of the Physical sciences. Every effort is made in maintaining a balance between a broad base of basic courses and a substantial variety of advanced courses. As the teaching programme at IISER Kolkata is quite different from the traditional Honours undergraduate program available (almost) everywhere else, DPS often faces the challenge of conveying the love for Physics to students who specialized in Biology (and dropped Mathematics!) in their high school. Indeed, the efforts of the department are mostly rewarded with DPS routinely attracting some of the very best of these undergraduate students in its fold: they join the post-MSc research scholars in conducting undergraduate research in research groups even as they undergo their three years of further rigorous coursework. There are two indicators of the success of this approach. DPS’ undergraduate students regularly clear the NET examination (many with high ranks) and secure positions at renowned Physics departments all over India for their PhD. At the same time, many of them are accepted at some of the best graduate schools abroad (chiefly in the US and Europe), and clear the coursework requirements for the PhD programs there with ease.
At the same time, the research conducted by members of DPS spans a truly impressive variety of topics on experimental and theoretical fronts, details of which will be found in this website. Mention must be made, though, of the experimental facilities developed in-house, which include a 35 Tesla pulsed magnet that is part of magneto-photoluminescence set-up, optical tweezers and photonic force spectroscopy, micro-patterning using bubbles (microbubble lithography), dark field fluorescence Mueller Matrix polarization spectroscopy, classical weak measurements, and low temperature electron spin resonance (ESR) towards quantum computation. Additionally, DPS faculties have also contributed to the creation of three Centres of Excellence supported by generous extramural funding from various Ministries of the Government of India: the Centre of Excellence in Space Sciences, India (CESSI), the National Centre for High-Pressure Studies (NCHPS), and the National Network for Mathematical and Computational Biology. DPS has recently also inducted a high-performance computational facility for its members. Faculty members also attract extra-mural grants regularly, with more than Rs 10 crores being attracted over the last decade.
DPS’ research proudly finds its place amongst that of its peers from all over the world in appearing regularly in the very best community and non-specialist journals of science, with the faculty encouraging research scholars to raise the bar: the department takes pride in noting that some of the scholars have published single-author papers in respected international journals. In addition, the department’s research scholars (both PhD and final year BSMS) regularly deliver presentations at international conferences, with several having won prestigious fellowships such as the SPIE Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship during their research tenure, and others winning the Humboldt Foundation post-doctoral fellowship after completing their PhDs. Indeed, a large fraction of the department’s PhD scholars obtain lucrative offers of post-doctoral fellowships in respected institutions within India and abroad upon the completion of their doctoral research, while a few have been absorbed by industry and even launched careers as successful entrepreneurs. Several of them have now commenced independent research careers in India in academic institutions such as IIT Madras, IIT Gandhinagar, NIT Srinagar, SNBNCBS, HRI, etc. as faculty members. Also, while DPS faculty strive continuously to create their own niche and rise to prominence within their communities, they are also involved in several national and international collaborative efforts. A special mention must be made of the department’s longstanding partnership with the LIGO consortium. Several faculty members are also keenly working towards translating the fruits of their research into tangible products of benefit to society at large, while others find mention of their work in the media.
DPS also has a vibrant seminar programme running presently with departmental colloquia, technical presentations, and alumni and student seminars being organized – typically every Wednesday. These are mostly streamed online – for more details about the seminars – emails can be sent to email@example.com.
As it looks into the future, DPS is driven by the twin clarion calls of excellence and relevance. The department is looking out for fresh talent to add to its efforts: be they faculty or graduate scholars. For a young department such as DPS, the hurdles it has overcome represent important markers and milestones of the journey that it cherishes. In order to establish our footprint further, DPS aims to light the path ahead with its efforts and achievements and make the next 13 years even more memorable.