Research at the ENS physics department is extremely varied.
Several research teams have a pioneered activity in the field of quantum physics with major results on the foundations of quantum mechanics and its applications.
This research covers various areas such as ultra-cold gases of bosons and fermions, and their applications in metrology, or optics and quantum information.

Another research priority in the department is quantum condensed-matter physics, with internationally top-rated research on liquids and quantum solids of helium, on the physics of nano-structures, on semiconductors and on mesoscopic physics.

In biophysics, experimental teams in several laboratories have pioneered the study of single biological molecules using real-time optical and mechanical methods. Other teams devote themselves to the study of complex biological systems, like membranes, and their interactions with neuro-transmitters or optical imaging through scattering biological media. Prominent teams of theorists study questions of genetics, for example the growth and the motion of tumours. In non-linear physics, a broad range of topics is covered, from natural systems to laboratory experiments: starting from star formation in the interstellar medium through extensive observations with the Herschel and Planck satellites, and state-of-the art numerical simulations, research also covers the complex dynamics of geophysical fluids in the context of the terrestrial magnetic field and plate tectonics. In statistical physics, prominent department teams study out-of-equilibrium dynamics, the physics of glasses, and phase transitions.

Theoretical physics occupies a place of choice. The high-energy theorists but also the condensed-matter or dilute-matter physicists are among world leaders. Most active research areas include string theory and M theory, holographic approaches to strongly-coupled systems, integrability, disordered systems and biophysics. Many theorists work at the interface of physics with mathematics, computer science, biology or economics.

Researchers at the Department are awarded many prizes, at all stages of their career (please visit ‘Prizes and awards’ for more information).

In addition to the award of the excellence laboratory ENS-ICFP to the entire department, several teams of the ENS physics department participate in Equipex projects, as the project MESO-PSL (coordinated by the GENCI) which will provide unprecedented computational power at the PSL level, the Equipex MIGA and REFIMEVE + project (transfer of time on the RENATER network). The teams are also involved in large-scale initiatives such as Pharao-Aces (clock in space) program, the Virgo (gravitational antenna) collaboration; project GBAR (freefall antimatter), the Graphene Flagship (one of Europe’s first ten-year, 1,000 million Euro flagships in Future and Emerging Technologies), etc.