The department traditionally focuses on basic research. Solid-state and cluster physics, biophysics, and theoretical physics are among the department’s current areas of focus. This includes physical surfaces and their structures, the study of biologically important molecules, investigating chemical reactions with fast laser pulses, the application of mathematical models, and development of methods for many-body physics.
At present, 14 research groups work in experimental physics, 9 in theoretical physics, and one in physics education. Further professors primarily work at the Helmholtz Centre Berlin and/or Max Born Institute. The department also maintains close ties with other research institutions in Berlin. It is furthermore active at the BESSY II synchrotron in the Adlershof district of Berlin, where it has its own beamlines.