April to June 2006

RP's best school of physics

The University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Physics is considered the country’s center for advanced manpower training, research, and development in pure and applied physics. In many scales, it is building a reputation as a special academic unit in UP Diliman’s College of Science.

“The institute is the best school of physics in the Philippines today and it is aiming to become one of the best in the ASEAN region within the present decade,” says Dr. Caesar A. Saloma, director of NIP. “NIP has been able to develop the capability to produce technically competent PhD graduates.”

In the 1990s, NIP received substantial support to develop its research infrastructure through the Department of Science and Technology-World Bank Engineering and Science Education Project.
NIP has modern laboratory equipment including lasers, plasmas, molecular beams, and optics among others. It hosts research groups working on fields such as condensed matter, instrumentation, structure and dynamics, theoretical physics, photonics, and plasma technology.

Physics LabPhysicists at the condensed matter physics laboratory conduct research on semiconductors and superconductors. Semiconductors are at the heart of consumer electronics and communication devices. Researchers make use of molecular beam epitaxy, a thermally controlled evaporation process in vacuum environment to produce semiconductor materials.

On the other hand, superconductors are materials resistant to the flow of current. These are useful for electronics, and glass and ceramic manufacturing, among others. At CMPL, physicists explore the properties of crystal oxides to produce superconductors that are cheaper but highly efficient.

With today’s advances in hospital equipment and other medical applications, the photonics research laboratory houses equipment in exploring laser sources and applications such as in holography, liquid crystals, etc.

Meanwhile, at the structure and dynamics (SanD) physics laboratory, researchers develop prototypes of materials used for computer simulations with applications in scientifically based models in the study of biological aging, for example. Such research finds applications in social sciences like population studies.

At the instrumentation physics laboratory, researchers try to design and develop instruments, specialized programs, and evaluation of environmental conditions.

Physicists at the theoretical physics laboratory develop models and different technologies based on quantum mechanics, gauge theories, and other areas of mathematical and theoretical physics.
Plasma technology is one of the important technologies in the development of new materials. The plasma physics laboratory is home to experiments on plasma systems with potential applications in manufacturing industries.

“Filipino physicists are acquiring the competence to recognize more interesting researches in the field of physics and, in fact, [they have] gained worldwide recognition through [their] publications in high-impact journals,” Dr. Saloma said in his institutional report “Physics in the Philippines Today”.

“Noticeable improvement in the research infrastructure and facilities and the number of publications in International Science Index (ISI) journals, has turned the NIP graduate school into a preferred advanced education option where younger talents can pursue careers in physics.”

Through the years, NIP has been striving to strengthen its research capability and graduate program by increasing its staff with PhDs and graduate students. It offers degree programs such as BS Physics, BS Applied Physics (with emphasis in materials physics and instrumentation physics), MS Physics, and Ph.D. Physics.