Research in the department is focused on the areas of:
- Astronomy and astrophysics
- Atmospheric physics
- Condensed Matter physics
- High Energy (Particle and Astroparticle) physics
- Medical physics
- Ring lasers
- Theoretical physics
The Department manages New Zealand's largest telescopes at Mount John University Observatory, near Lake Tekapo, the Birdlings Flat radar facility, and the ring laser facility in the Cashmere Cavern.
We also have atmospheric research activities at Scott Base and Antarctica. Medical physics activities occur at Christchurch and St Georges Hospitals and we have recently joined the CERN Medipix collaboration. The University has recently joined the consortium building the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). We have joined the Compact Muon Solenoid collaboration which studies proton collisions from the CMS detector at the CERN Large Hadron Collider.
The Nanostructure Engineering Science and Technology Group (NEST) and MacDiarmid Institute joint research effort with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Industrial Research Limited.