<strong>Program of Doctorate in Theoretical Physics</strong>

The doctoral program in Theoretical Physics lies within the broad scientific domain commonly referred to as Experimental Sciences, and is conceived as a unique type of program, meaning it involves a single university, in this case, the Autonomous University of Madrid. The responsible department is the Department of Theoretical Physics, and the participating university institution is the Institute of Theoretical Physics IFT, which is a joint institute of UAM/CSIC. Both institutions are indisputable benchmarks of excellence, nationally and internationally, in their role of educating doctoral students and conducting research in the field of Theoretical Physics.

The term Theoretical Physics here encompasses a wide range of disciplines that are closely related to the realm of High-Energy Fundamental Physics. These disciplines share a common foundation in understanding the nature at its most fundamental level, encompassing the structure of matter and its modes of interaction. Among others, this area includes: Quantum Field Theory and Strings, Theoretical Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics, Gravitational Theory, Cosmology, High-Energy Astrophysics (also known as Astroparticle Physics), Experimental High-Energy Physics, Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics, Computational Physics, Fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics, and more. These disciplines, along with more specialized areas, form the basis of the research lines currently pursued by the participating professors and researchers, serving as the fundamental inspirational element of this program.

The main objective of the PDFT is research training and the completion of a Doctoral Thesis. The current program stems from the previous Official Doctoral Program in Theoretical Physics, which received positive verification in 2010 (BOE of February 10, 2010). It has been granted the Mention of Quality since the academic year 2003-2004 (references MCD2003-00221 and MCD2006-00374), and has received the Mention of Excellence from the Ministry of Education and Science (BOE of October 20, 2011, reference MEE2011-0264), with a weighted overall score of 95/100. The current program represents an adaptation of the previous one to the regulations of Royal Decree 99/2011 and is integrated into the Doctoral School of the Autonomous University of Madrid (EDUAM).

About the Program:

Specific Admission Criteria:

    The body responsible for the Admission process is the Academic Committee (CA) of the PDFT. The CA will assess the suitability of admission applications to the PDFT according to the criteria specified in the Verification Report. Admission is guided by the following criteria:

    • Fulfillment of general access requirements.
    • Applicant’s Curriculum Vitae: Evaluation of articles in national and international scientific journals, contributions to books, presentations or contributions at national and international conferences (10%).

    • Academic record of the applicant: Evaluation of grades obtained during the education period, both undergraduate and master’s level (60%).

    • Reference reports from the applicant’s home institutions: Assessment by the professors who provide reference reports regarding the applicant’s research capabilities (10%).

    • Interview with the applicant by the CA: Evaluation of knowledge related to the fundamentals of theoretical physics (20%).

    The accumulated experience from previous courses of the current PDFT shows that successfully conducting cutting-edge research in a competitive field like this demands full-time commitment from the student. However, the admission of part-time students, up to a maximum of three, will also be considered.

    The PDFT includes supplementary training for students who lack basic knowledge in the following areas: quantum field theory, gravitation, cosmology, and the standard model of elementary particles. The CA may establish supplementary training courses from the Master’s Program in Theoretical Physics, selecting up to four subjects from the list above, for a maximum of twelve credits.

    Applicants to the PDFT with special educational needs resulting from disabilities should initially contact the program coordinator to communicate their requirements. Furthermore, they should also reach out to the Office of Solidarity and Cooperation Action, to jointly address (with the coordinator) the specific needs of each applicant, providing information, advice, and guidance.

Participating Research Centers:

Official Documentation of the Program:

Program Evaluation:

    The UAM’s PDFT received favorable verification notification from the Verification and Accreditation Committee of Curriculum Plans of the Council of Universities in September 2013. Its establishment as an official doctoral program in the Universities of the Community of Madrid was decided in January 2014 (BOCM-20140103-5). The first student enrolled in the new program in March 2014, after their admission application was accepted. Since then, a total of 139 admissions have been accepted in the PDFT, with an average of 17 new students enrolled each year. Currently, there are 73 ongoing doctoral theses, and 60 doctoral theses have already been completed in the PDFT. Funding for PDFT students comes from various sources, including FPU and FPI contracts, contracts associated with research projects funded by the ministry and other public and private entities, scholarships from foreign universities and research units, among others. In terms of research lines of doctoral theses, 11%, 31%, 15%, and 43% correspond to research lines 061, 062, 063, and 064, respectively. The number of completed doctoral theses each year is 7, 10, 22, 5, and 16 for the years 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. On average, students take 4 years to complete their research plan, with a success rate close to 100%. Out of a total of 60 completed theses by December 2021, 50% received the International Doctoral Mention. Notably, the theses completed within the program have an average contribution of 10 scientific publications in high-impact journals. In terms of employability, based on the collected information, 80% of PDFT graduates continue research activities through postdoctoral contracts at national and international universities and research centers, 10% are employed as university professors abroad, and 10% work in various departments (research, marketing, sales) of private companies.

Completed Theses:

Outstanding Doctoral Awards from UAM:

    2018/2019: Ana Rosario Cueto Gómez, “Measurements of isolated-photon production inclusively and in association with jets at √s = 13 TeV with the ATLAS detector”. Advisors: Juan Terrón Cuadrado and Claudia Beatriz Glasman Kuguel

    2018/2019: Francisco Torrentí Salom, “Aspects of Preheating and Higgs Cosmology”. Advisors: Juan García-Bellido Capdevila and Daniel García Figueroa

    2019/2020: Pablo Antonio Cano Molina-Niñirola, “Higher-Curvature Gravity, Black Holes and Holography”. Advisors: Tomás Ortín Miguel and Pablo Bueno Gómez

    2019/2020: José María Ezquiaga Bravo, “Unveiling the dark side of the universe with gravitational waves”. Advisor: Juan García-Bellido Capdevila. Award for the best doctoral thesis in Theoretical Physics in 2019 from the Royal Spanish Society of Physics and Enrique Fuentes Quintana Award for Doctoral Theses 2020 (Engineering, Mathematics, Architecture, and Physics category)

    2020/2021: Pablo Quílez Lasanta, “New dynamics in axions and flavor”. Advisor: María Belén Gavela Legazpi

Monitoring and Quality:

Research Lines:

Experimental High-Energy Physics

    Ordinary matter is ultimately composed of elementary particles (quarks and leptons), and the Standard Model is the theory that describes how these elementary particles interact through three of the four fundamental forces in the universe (strong, weak, and electromagnetic). However, some questions still challenge this theory: the inclusion of gravitational force, the origin of Dark Matter, the origin of quark and lepton generations and their scales, matter-antimatter asymmetry, or neutrino properties.

    Experimental answers to these questions are pursued in High-Energy Physics facilities. UAM researchers are involved in Beyond-the-Standard-Model (Beyond-SM) physics searches at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and neutrino experiments like Superkamiokande and NEXT.

    ATLAS and CMS are two (out of four) experiments/detectors/collaborations collecting particle collision results at the LHC. Members of this research line actively participate in these collaborations in data analysis, development of ATLAS’s liquid argon electromagnetic calorimeter and CMS’s muon drift tubes. Additionally, a level-2 computing facility belonging to the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid provides support for simulation and data processing by end-users.

    Neutrinos are produced in a certain “flavor” (electron, muon, or tau) that doesn’t correspond to a specific “mass state.” This fact is the origin of neutrino oscillations. Members of this research line are involved in experiments like Super-Kamiokande and NEXT, aiming to detect and study neutrino properties, and to search for possible proton decay and double-beta decay without neutrinos.

String Theory and Supergravity

    A key goal of Particle Physics is to provide a deep understanding of the fundamental forces of Nature. Achieving compatibility between quantum mechanics and Einstein’s gravity is a major challenge in theoretical physics in this century. String theory is the leading candidate for a coherent theory of quantum gravity and, at the same time, it has a rich enough structure to encompass essential ingredients of the Standard Model. String theory also enables understanding the microscopic degrees of freedom of black holes and offers a broad field of connections with field theory (via holography and AdS-CFT correspondence) and even with other strongly coupled systems in condensed matter physics and heavy ion physics.

Nuclear Structure, Lattice Field Theories, and Condensed Matter

    The atomic nucleus is a system composed of protons and neutrons (nucleons) that interact through intricate nuclear forces. The number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus defines the different chemical elements and their respective isotopes found in nature. These ions attract electrons to form atoms, and these atoms combine to build molecules, which are the building blocks of complex chemical and biological structures. Nuclear Physics connects the smallest (Particle Physics) and largest (Astrophysics) scales in nature. Thus, the atomic nucleus is the perfect laboratory to study the properties of elementary particles and their interactions. Additionally, the origin and abundance of different isotopes are determined by nuclear reactions occurring in different stages of star life, which define their fate. Our goal is to understand nuclear structure through microscopic theories based on self-consistent mean-field and beyond mean-field approximations, combined with sophisticated nuclear interactions. These theoretical tools are used to calculate nuclear properties such as binding energies, radii, excitation energies, decay modes, fission, etc., which can be compared with experimental data. Neutrinoless Double-Beta Decay: This (yet unobserved) process, in which a nucleus decays into another nucleus with two more protons and two fewer neutrons, emitting two electrons but no neutrinos, has many implications for the nature of neutrinos, physics beyond the Standard Model, and cosmology.

    Field theory itself is the fundamental tool in particle physics. However, understanding its non-perturbative aspects remains a challenge. A leading technique in dealing with strongly coupled phenomena is lattice field theory. This has been applied both to the study of general properties of field theories and to the calculation of quantities and matrix elements of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) that can now be computed with unprecedented precision.

    Within the field of Condensed Matter Theory and Quantum Information, the aim is to develop an interdisciplinary field at the frontier of condensed matter physics, quantum optics, and quantum information theory, with the challenge of addressing fundamental open questions in understanding many-body quantum systems and exploring many-body quantum entanglement for new paradigms of quantum information processing. The used tools are based on recent developments in quantum information theory combined with traditional techniques from conformal field theory and integrable systems.

Phenomenology of the Standard Model and Beyond, Astroparticles, and Gravitation

    We aim to comprehend the origin of the mass of all elementary particles. A significant stride was recently taken at CERN with the discovery of a bosonic particle with a mass of 126 GeV at the LHC. This mass value challenges some of the simplest notions for physics beyond the Standard Model (SM), and it remains to be determined whether this is the Higgs particle of the SM or some other scalar with analogous couplings. Higgs particle physics is a field priority in the coming years. Simultaneously, the origin of the mass spectrum and fermion mixings in the SM is still to be understood. Remarkable progress in the last two decades in neutrino masses and mixings has been achieved. The recent measurement of third-generation neutrino mixing also indicates that future neutrino factories could detect CP violation in the neutrino system. This could have profound implications for our understanding of the matter-antimatter asymmetry’s origin. In this context, experiments like LHCb, CMS, and ATLAS will also advance our understanding of heavy quark physics, their mixings, and CP violations in an unprecedented manner.

    High-Energy Physics is intimately connected to physics at large scales, on the level of Astrophysics and Cosmology. Therefore, the physics of the ultimate constituents of matter impacts the cosmological evolution of the universe. On the other hand, Astrophysics also imposes constraints on the properties of elementary particles. In this regard, the search for dark matter is particularly relevant. Direct detection experiments like CDMS or XENON are challenging many dark matter models. Experiments like Fermi are testing the high-energy spectrum of cosmic rays with unprecedented precision. Cosmology has entered an era of precision, and improvements in the measurement of the cosmic background radiation (CMB) and the search for primordial gravitational waves will enable us to test large classes of inflationary models. Large galaxy surveys like DES, Euclid, PAU, and DESI will provide valuable information about Dark Energy properties. All this data will further constrain particle physics models.

Doctorate Courses 2023/2024:

  • Seminars and conferences at the DFT and IFT:

      PDFT students have access to seminar series offered by the DFT and IFT on topics closely related to the research program’s lines. Renowned national and international researchers participate in these seminar series, and PDFT students are encouraged to present their research results as speakers, showcasing their work during their doctoral thesis. Students also have access to attend conferences held at various UAM faculties and/or promoted by EDUAM, addressing more general and cross-disciplinary subjects. Attendance at these seminars and conferences is part of the PDFT’s training activities. While not mandatory, attending one seminar per month is recommended for both full-time and part-time students.

    Training Activities Offered by UAM Doctoral School

    Academic Committee and Contact:

    The Academic Committee (AC) of the PDFT consists of five members: three permanent or Ramón y Cajal contracted professors from the Theoretical Physics area of the DFT, and two researchers from the affiliated institutions (IFT).

    • Coordinator: Sabio Vera, Agustín (DFT/IFT)
    • Secretary: Pena Ruano, Carlos (DFT/IFT)
    • Vocal: Glasman Kuguel, Claudia (DFT)
    • Vocal: Marchesano Buznego, Fernando (IFT)
    • Vocal: Moreno Moreno, Jesús M. (IFT)

    Internal Regulations of the Academic Committee

    Minutes of AC meetings for 2019-2020, 2021

    Contact Doctoral School:

    Contact Doctorate Program:

    © 2023 Doctorate Program in Theoretical Physics UAM