Admission to doctoral studies

Doctoral studies in the Institute of Physics are regulated by the university Regulations for Doctoral Studies.
More information about the doctoral studies can be found in the Doctoral center page of Faculty of Science and Technology together with the information about organisation, planning and completing doctoral studies.

An overview of the steps you need to take if you are planning to apply for doctoral studies at the University of Tartu can be found in the web-page Admission to doctoral studies.

Our institute is participating in the curriculum of Physics, the curriculum of Materials Science and the curriculum of Environmental Technology.

Since the year 2022/2023, we are participating in the following new doctoral programmes: 

The programme includes three specialities with responsible institutes shown in parenthesis:

1. Physics (Institute of Physics) 

  2. Chemistry (Institute of Chemistry)

  3. Space research and technology (Tartu Observatory)

See programme information

The programme includes five specialities with responsible institutes shown in parenthesis:

1. Computer Engineering (Institute of Technology)

2. Sustainable Energetics (Institute of Chemistry)

3. Environmental Technology  (Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences)

4. Materials Science  (Institute of Physics)

5. Molecular Biotechnology (Institute of Technology)

See programme information


Progress review of doctoral students follows the procedure of Faculty of Science and Technology:

During the progress review, the progress of doctoral students in doctoral programmes opened from 2022/2023 is evaluated based on outcomes (not in credit points).

In the Institute of Physics, the progress review takes place on June 12 and 16.In the progress review, it is necessary to submit the progress review report and period plan for the next year:

The pdf file of the progress review report along with the activity plan for the next year, certified by the student’s and supervisors' digital signatures, must be sent to the head of the progress review committee, Prof. Jaak Kikas ( by June 5th. In your message, please also indicate whether you have any time constraints on these days with attending the meeting.

The schedule of progress reviews will be announced on the evening of June 8th the latest. The meeting will take place in Physicum (W. Ostwaldi 1), Room A111. The estimated time for the review per one student is 15 min, including a short (up to 5 min) report with few slides, followed by answers to the questions from the members of the committee.


PhD projects 2023

The successful PhD research projects for the year 2023 are listed below. There were 5 projects in the specialty of Physics and 2 projects in the specialty of Materials Science.

The admission period was 1-15 May. If you wish to enter a doctoral program, please contact potential supervisors in time to propose a suitable research project.


Computational imaging is one of the rapidly evolving areas of imaging. Most of the computational imaging methods transform the object information into a summation of shifted and scaled scalar optical fields. The resulting intensity distribution read by the image sensor is reconstructed into object information. This PhD project titled, “Computational imaging using vector optical beams generated from micro/nano optical devices,” aims to employ vector optical fields as the building block of the intensity distribution. Consequently, the summation is no longer a scalar summation but a vector one making it sensitive to changes in polarization of the object along 3D spatial and spectral dimensions. The existing computational reconstruction methods are only suitable for scalar optical fields. This PhD project will create new knowledge on vector convolution and correlation. The vector optical fields will be generated using novel engineered polarization sensitive micro/nano optical modulators. The modulators will be manufactured using advanced lithography procedures and implemented for experimental demonstration. Novel multidimensional compact, light-weight microscopes will be realized using the new vector correlation principles beyond the state-of-the-art.   

Please contact dr. Vijayakumar Anand ( Co-supervisor is dr. Aile Tamm. The study will be carried out in the Center of Photonics and Computational Imaging.

Chemical and Physical Sciences (Physics).

Quantum computation is a novel paradigm of computing which is capable of solving problems that cannot be tackled using conventional computing. In particular, quantum computers are able to efficiently simulate large quantum systems, a task which is beyond the reach of conventional computers irrespective of their size. This is of great interest for quantum chemistry and materials science, which underlie chemical and pharmaceutical industries and development of new materials and technologies. While fault tolerant quantum computing is predicted to arrive earliest in a decade, near term quantum devices which involve a few hundred qubits are becoming a reality presently. The project focuses on simulation of quantum systems that are of interest in quantum chemistry and solid state physics using the paradigm of variational quantum algorithms, as well as fault tolerant quantum computation. Analysis, benchmarking, testing and development of the range of methods that are used for simulation and computation of electronic structure and energy surfaces need to be carried out in order to make progress in quantum simulation on near term quantum devices.

Please contact dr. Veiko Palge ( Co-supervisors are dr. Dirk Oliver Theis and Dr. Juhan Matthias Kahk. The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics.

Chemical and Physical Sciences (Physics).

In the recent years, effects of climate change including drought and high-light conditions have become more abundant. Therefore, an adaptation to these changing environmental conditions will become unavoidable for a sustainable development of agriculture in the future. One promising strategy is to study native adaptation mechanisms in photosynthesis to battle environmental stress. In this regard, two promising bioprotectants are trehalose and glycerol, which act as stabilizer and plasticizer, respectively, for the photoactive proteins responsible for photosynthesis in plants.

Trehalose is a specific sugar found in organisms able to survive extreme external stresses, such as high or very low temperatures or periods of complete drought. Most importantly, trehalose was shown to preserve the function of native photosynthetic proteins upon dehydration. Glycerol is a highly hydrophilic compound that is able to attract water, thus, leading to an increase of the protein surface hydration. This plasticizing effect ensures the functionally important protein flexibility and prevents harmful aggregation or misfolding of proteins. However, the molecular mechanisms of the protective roles of trehalose and glycerol are still debated and often poorly understood.

Neutron scattering methods are well-suited for direct nanoscale investigations of protein structure and mobility under nearly native conditions as well as to study their interactions with bioprotectants. Small angle neutron scattering with contrast variation will be used to investigate the location of the trehalose or glycerol molecules with respect to the protein surface and the hydration shell to shed more light on the particular molecular interaction mechanisms. In addition to structural integrity, proteins also have to preserve a specific level of flexibility to perform their function. Quasielastic neutron scattering spectroscopy will be employed to directly study the protein flexibility under environmental stress conditions in the presence of bioprotectants.

Please contact Prof. Jörg Pieper ( The study will be carried out in the Workgroup of Neutron Scattering Techniques.

Chemical and Physical Sciences (Physics).

Scintillators are materials converting ionizing radiation and particles into low-energy radiation appropriate for photodetectors. The aim of our project is to create a path for new generation of ultrafast scintillators with time resolution in ps time domain. A concept of electronic band structure engineering will be applied to ternary compounds with complicated valence band structure, which create favourable conditions for appearance of intrinsic emissions, cross-luminescence and intra band luminescence, with short sub-nanosecond decay times. Suitable materials will be selected on the basis of open databases (e.g. AFLOW), consisting of results of theoretical studies of material properties, and experimental results available. Thereafter the selected materials will be synthesized as pure compounds and their solid solutions, their properties modelled and studied in home laboratory and at large scale facilities (MAX IV Lab, DESY Photon Science) using time resolved luminescence spectroscopy with sub-nanosecond time resolution at its top level. These materials will be beneficial for very different areas of technology, including high-energy physics (CERN), homeland security, controlled nuclear fusion research and especially medical diagnostics. Significantly improved time resolution will cause a breakthrough in positron emission tomography by allowing non-expensive low-dose scans for pediatric, prenatal and neonatal diagnostics in every major hospital, allowing early identification of tumour’s and other harmful conditions.

Please contact prof. Marco Kirm ( The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of the Physics of Ionic Crystals.

Chemical and Physical Sciences (Physics).

The doctoral project will be focused on the combined experimental and theoretical studies of a series of pure and purposefully doped oxygen-based spinel compounds AB2O4 which are technologically important functional materials for lighting, optical thermometers, detectors and dosimeters of radiation and even optical windows for projected fusion reactors. The PhD research allows to identify directions towards smart design of materials with desired optical and mechanical properties. Based on the results planned, we anticipate a number of the “structure-property” and “property-property” trends with strong descriptive and predictive power to be uncovered, which would make a noticeable contribution to both fundamental and applied research.

Please contact prof. Mikhail G. Brik ( Co-supervisors are prof. Aleksandr Luštšik and dr. Anatolijs Popovs (University of Latvia). The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of the Physics of Ionic Crystals.

Chemical and Physical Sciences (Physics).

The PhD project is dealing with the functional properties of A15 intermetallic compounds, conductive oxide and hydride systems. The general idea is based on the main concept of crystal solid state chemistry that the physical properties of a material can be modified and controlled by changing the chemical bonds between different ions/atoms in the crystal structure, for instance, through charge transfer between metal and ligand, through the strength of interaction between ligand and metal, etc. The main goal of the study consists of two parts: the first one is to understand what modifications of the composition and structure could lead to an increase in the superconducting transition temperature in compounds such as A15. The second part of the research work is to establish rigorous parallels between the superconductivity mechanisms in A15 compound (e.g., Nb3Sn) and a number of conducting oxide and hydride systems (e.g., not fully oxidised stable forms of some binary oxides and oxyhydrides). Our theoretical assumption, based on a comparison of the crystal-chemical features of these materials, as well as on the combination of various experimental and theoretical data, is that the nature of superconductivity in them may be conceptually the same. This provides a good opportunity to study the mechanism of superconductivity in all these systems within the framework of a unitary approach of theoretical modelling. The results obtained can be applied to the development of modified or new superconducting materials that meet the requirements of electrodynamics of technical superconductivity. The research outcomes may have large potential for new-generation superconducting coils and wires operating at temperatures close to the boiling point of hydrogen. The project is interdisciplinary, bridging solid-state theory and experimental work in materials physics, on the one hand, and applied aspects of superconducting power engineering using liquid hydrogen as a refrigerant, on the other.

Please contact dr. Aleksandr Pištšev ( Co-supervisors are dr. Artjom Vargunin and Dr. Smagul Karazhanov (Norway). The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Solid State Theory.

Engineering and Technology (Materials Science)

The project aims to design novel structures from few-atom thick 2D materials with enhanced gas sensing properties such as high selectivity to specific gases and long-term stability. The heterostructures are based on graphene as an ultimately sensitive electrical transducer and the insulating or semiconducting material on top of it, acting as the gas receptor and protecting layer. The structures will be fabricated by laser-induced forward transfer and by assembling stacks with other transfer methods of 2D materials.

Please contact dr. Raivo Jaaniso ( Co-supervisor is dr. Margus Kodu. The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Sensor Technologies.

Engineering and Technology (Materials Science)

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Night Library lasts longer than ever this spring


Training Camp 2023: The Art of Giving a Popular Science Talk

12th Training Camp "How to Give a Popular Sciecne Talk" to PhD students in natural sciences will take place on May 19-20 (Fri - Sat).