History of the Department of Physics FNSPE CTU in Prague

The Faculty was founded under the original name: the Faculty of Technical and Nuclear Physics, as a part of Charles University in 1955, at a time of great enthusiasm for the possibilities of science and nuclear sciences in particular. The interest of young people in studies at the Faculty grew proportionally. Even before the first year students had finished their 5-year course, the Faculty had shifted to become part of the Czech Technical University and a new type faculty, training Physical and nuclear Engineers.

At the very beginning, the Faculty consisted of three departments: nuclear physics including theoretical physics, nuclear chemistry and physical engineering, but as early as in 1965, it grew to include 10 departments and training centres, of which three taught physics – the Department of Nuclear Physics, focusing on co-operation with the United Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna, the Department of Theoretical Physics and the Department of General Physics.

The Department of General Physics, headed alternately by Professor J. Beneš and Associate Professor J. Dibelka, was responsible for the teaching of the fundamentals of physics and had the important task of implementing practical physics seminars. In addition to this, its teaching staff worked on research projects according to their respective specialisation. For example, bubble chamber measurements, semiconducting detector characteristics, beta-disintegration theory, x-ray microstructure analysis, elasticimetry, and later, plasma theory and laser applications. In the sixties and seventies, a number of teachers taught in the Department. As a result of the fact that in 1967, the Department of Nuclear and Theoretical Physics was transferred to the Charles University, more staff were employed (M. Uhlíř, J. Tolar) and so it had expanded its profile. Since that time, it has become a fully-fledged department of physics offering courses in the fundamentals of physics, special courses and specialised major courses in branches of nuclear and theoretical physics.

In 1971, Ivan Štoll, assistant professor, returned from a two-year study stay at Canadian Universities and became the head of the Department. At this time, the Department further extended its pedagogical and research activities, launched regular seminars in applied physics and established international co-operation, despite the difficulties arising from the political situation of that period. In 1981, restructuring took place in relation to the construction of a school nuclear reactor. Teaching - training and research on this installation were headed by Karel Matějka for another 10 years, still within the framework of the Department of Physics. In this respect, a group of teachers and scientists in reactor physics were sojourned temporarily to the Department of Physics.
From the beginning of 1991 the Department was headed by professor Tolar, a theoretical physicist specialized on mathematical problems of quantum theory. In 1993 the Doppler Institute for mathematics and physics was founded at the Faculty, and became a centre of national and international co-operation. As for curricula, from 1994 students could sign up for a specialisation in Mathematical Physics within the branch of Mathematical Engineering and, parallel to this, for a specialisation in Experimental Nuclear Physics within the branch of Nuclear Engineering. A new specialisation Physics and Technology of Thermonuclear Fusion within the branch of Physical Engineering started in 2006/7 in the 3rd year of the Bachelor´s Degree and it has been successfully developing ever since. In 2010 the Department enlarged its offer of Bachelor´s Degree Courses by the branch of Technology in Physics. The Department was gradually taking on first-class specialists and successful University graduates started working here.

Jiri Tolar

n 2006 Professor Jex followed Professor Tolar as Head of Department. He is a specialist in quantum optics and quantum information. During this time society witnessed an increase in interest in branches relating to physics and nuclear sciences among young people, which came as a breath of fresh air for the Department. At the same time, the percentage of foreign students and the network of international contacts and linked projects with foreign institutes increased sharply. Nowadays dozens of young PhD students and University Graduates take part in research and teaching, a number of them make their mark at universities and research institutions abroad. During recent years, the volume of science and research work grew significantly and began to overtake that of teaching. Nevertheless, the Department is responsible for core courses in Physics at FJFI (FNSPE). Research concentrates around a number of internationally recognized groups working on quantum optics and quantum information, experiments  ATLAS and ALICE at CERN and STAR at BNL, mathematical and geometrical methods in Physics, around the training tokomak GOLEM, and in the newly founded Centre of Competence.

Igor Jex

In 2014, doc. Goce Chadzitaskos became the head of the department.

Goce Chadzitaskos

Since 2018, the Department is led by doc. Martin  Štefaňák.