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 following 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

PhD projects 2022

Most recent successful PhD research projects are listed below.

If you wish to enter a doctoral program, please contact potential supervisors in time so that a suitable doctoral project can be prepared for next year.

Recent observations of gravitational waves, the orbits of stars around the galactic center and the first image of M87*, have opened a new view on the cosmos. Assuming that gravity is described by general relativity (GR), it is concluded that these observations are explained by of black holes, which have been predicted theoretically as vacuum solutions to Einstein’s equations already in 1916.

GR, however, has severe tensions with current cosmological observations, as well as with quantum theory, and so it is generally understood that it needs to be modified in order to encompass these tensions. A large class of such modifications is known as teleparallel gravity theories. These theories have received growing attention during the last decade, as they provide possible pathways to consistency of the theoretical description of gravity with both cosmological observations and quantum theory.
While solving Einstein’s field equations in vacuum and spherical symmetry uniquely leads to the Schwarzschild solution describing a black hole, modified theories of gravity allow also for other solutions. Such solutions are denoted “exotic compact objects” (ECOs). Examples include wormholes, boson stars and gravastars. While some classes of ECOs can easily disguise as black holes in current observations, others have distinct sig-natures, for example in their gravitational wave pattern, which allows to distinguish them.
The aim of this thesis is to study ECOs, their fundamental properties and possible obser-vational signatures in modified teleparallel theories of gravity. In particular, we will study which types of ECO solutions with spherical symmetry exist in certain theories, derive these solutions, and discuss their properties, such as the required matter content in order to sustain them, as well as observational signatures in order to distinguish them from black holes using gravitational wave observations.

Please contact dr. Manuel Hohmann ( The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics.

The project is aimed at the development of bright luminescence materials suitable for implementation in phosphor converted LEDs and detectors for remote luminescence thermometry. The main emphasis will be placed at the research of the correlation of structural and luminescence properties in molybdenum oxides K5RE(MoO4)4 and their solid solutions (RE = rare-earth element). It is expected that the structural disorder due to an incommensurately modulated crystal structure of some molybdates may attenuate the forbiddance of the RE 4f-4f transitions and prevent concentration quenching of RE luminescence thus facilitating a higher light yield. The level of the structural disorder can be tuned by varying powder synthesis or crystal growth conditions. Energy transfer to luminescence centre in RE based compounds as well as temperature dependent luminescence properties: thermal stability of emission, important for application in pcLEDs, and the redistribution of emission intensity between the Stark components of excited states of RE, essential for remote temperature detecting will be studied by time-resolved luminescence spectroscopy. The brightest compounds with suitable spectral and thermal luminescence properties will be selected for implementation studies.

Please contact dr. Vitali Nagirnõi ( Co-supervisor is dr. Dmitry Spasskiy. The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Physics of Ionic Crystals.

The PhD project will combine dose rate modelling of materials and technical evaluation of radioactive waste management options for small modular reactors (SMR).
Nuclear power is an option for decarbonisation of the power sector in Estonia but it comes with certain field-specific challenges, e.g. waste management. This project studies the challenge from a technical perspective. The work provides valuable information to the national waste management authority responsible for the choosing the solutions for Estonia. On an international scale, an efficient model for radioactive waste management for nuclear newcomers opting for SMR technology is proposed.
During the first years of the PhD project, a model will be developed using the EGSnrc software to assess attenuation of ionizing radiation in materials that can possibly be used in radioactive waste management. The model will be applied to innovative concrete mixtures containing oil shale ash and fibres. Addition of oil shale ash is expected to enhance the immobilization properties of concrete while adding fibres will enhance the mechanical characteristics. Modelling results will be validated by experimental determination of gamma ray attenuation with gamma spectrometric measurements.
To evaluate the suitability of innovative concrete mixtures for SMR waste management, SMR waste source term and waste management pathways will be assessed. This doctoral project aims to propose the optimum waste management pathways per waste stream originating from an SMR. A less conservative model for dose assessment would allow for more adequate waste management solutions in terms of societal, technical, and economic efficiency.

Please contact dr. Siiri Salupere ( Co-supervisor is dr. Rodrigo de Oliveira. The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Environmental Physics.

Gravitational-wave astronomy is a new and rapidly developing direction in
experimental physics. The early Universe is transparent to gravitational waves.
Thus it will soon become possible to observe gravitational-wave signals
originating from processes of this epoch directly. To recognise these signals, it is
crucial to connect the high energy theory with concrete experimental predictions.
This is the primary goal of the doctoral project. It will focus on the numerical
simulation of processes related to first-order phase transitions in the early
Universe and the development of novel computational tools. The resulting
predictions will improve our understanding of the first moments of our Universe.

Please contact dr. Hardi Veermäe ( Co-supervisors are dr. Joosep Pata and dr. Margus Saal. The study will be carried out in National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics and the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics in Institute of Physics.

Various cosmological and theoretical issues motivate to consider gravitational theories beyond general relativity. Explorations in the sector where the affine connection is allowed to be independent of the metric in the geometric setup (where Palatini and teleparallel are perhaps the simplest types of models) have been receiving growing attention recently. At the same time the increasing amount of data regarding astrophysical objects as well as the new gravitational wave detections, allow to put the proposed models under comprehensive tests. First, the theoretical solutions obtained by solving the modified Einstein field equations need to be properly studied before applying them to the description of the physical objects. Healthy and realistic solutions will be then used to study compact objects such as black holes, neutron and white dwarf stars, with the particular focus on the cooling process of the dead stars. Moreover, such compact objects turn out to alter the propagation of the gravitational waves in their neighborhood. The change in the gravitational wave signal is different for a given theory of gravity, therefore new effects, which are not present in general relativity, can be studied.

Please contact dr. Laur Järv ( Co-supervisor is dr. Aneta Wojnar. The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics.

Interferenceless coded aperture correlation holography (I-COACH) is an incoherent holography technique capable of reproducing three-dimensional (3D) information of an object from a single camera shot. In I-COACH, the light from an object was modulated by a quasi-random phase mask and the scattered intensity pattern was recorded by an image sensor. The 3D object information was reconstructed by processing the object intensity pattern with the pre-recorded 3D PSF distributions. While I-COACH can record and reconstruct 3D information without two beam interference unlike its’ precursors such as self-interference digital holography methods, it is not without problems. The need for scattering in I-COACH and the need for recording PSFs increases the noise and reduces the resolving power respectively. The speckle distribution generated in I-COACH and the reconstruction mechanism involving cross-correlation with PSF precludes the introduction of special imaging characteristics. The doctoral thesis titled “Interferenceless coded aperture correlation holography with deterministic optical fields,” is a game changing approach which is expected to address the above challenges of I-COACH and expand the applicability of I-COACH to power sensitive areas. The proposed doctoral thesis will investigate the special beams with interesting spatial intensity distributions for 3D imaging applications. The doctoral thesis will create a unified artificial intelligence based image reconstruction algorithm for reconstruction of 3D information for special beams. The outcomes of the doctoral thesis is expected to lay the foundations of a new generation of imaging and microscopy technologies.

Please contact dr. Vijayakumar Anand ( The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Physical Optics.

In the recent years, chaos-inspired imaging technologies (CI2-Tech) have gained a lot of attention. Most of the CI2-Tech approaches involve scattering of the light diffracted from an object to distinctly encode many spatio-spectral information channels in one intensity distribution. The doctoral project titled “Multispectral multidimensional imaging using an ensemble of self-interfering spatially incoherent chaotic scalar waves,” unifies all the existing CI2-Tech methods under a single roof. The doctoral project aims to create a computational optics framework for statistical optical experiments. In this framework, an ensemble of chaotic scalar waves with interesting intensity distributions can be synthesized, their composition and mutual interactions can be controlled. The project aims to access the non-linear regions of imaging characteristics by mapping every object point to an ensemble of special optical intensity distributions. When the constituents of the ensemble are sparse it is possible to achieve a strong dependency between the nature and composition of the ensemble and the imaging characteristics. When the density of the ingredients increases, the system collapses to the case of a regular scatterer. Consequently, the previous CI2-Tech methods are only a special case in the proposed framework. The doctoral thesis aims to create a novel hybrid reconstruction algorithm based on cross-correlation, maximum likelihood and optimization to reconstruct the recorded intensity distributions into a 5D image. The doctoral project will generate new knowledge in statistical optics, reconstruction mechanisms and imaging technologies which has potential for developing novel microscopes and molecular fingerprinting sensors in mid-infrared wavelengths.

Please contact dr. Vijayakumar Anand ( The study will be carried out in the Laboratory of Physical Optics.

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 Physics of Ionic Crystals

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