CHED Center of Excellence

Level III FAAP-accredited program evaluated by PAASCU

PHP102M (~USD2M) in research grants


An exodus of SVD scientist-priests from Fu Jen Catholic University took refuge in what was then Colegio de San Carlos when they were expelled from China in 1949. Among these SVD confreres was Fr. Francis Oster, who researched supersonic vibration in solids and became the chair of the Department of Physics in 1950. Fr. Michael Richartz, an authority on optics, joined Fr. Oster and assumed leadership of the Department in 1952. By 1953, a Bachelor of Science major in Physics program was offered.

The current state of the Department was largely shaped by the Physics Development Project in collaboration with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and funded by the Netherlands Ministry for Development Cooperation through its Joint Financing Program for Cooperation in Higher Education. This project improved the Department’s curriculum, upgraded its laboratory facilities, and developed faculty qualifications.

Bolstered by trained faculty with doctorate degrees, along with several visiting professors (see below), the Department offered a Ph.D. program beginning in 2014. Two years later, in 2016, the Commission on Higher Education designated the Department as a Center of Excellence.

Recently, a joint USC-HNU team led by Prof. Rommel G. Bacabac was awarded as the recipient of the HyperGES Programme, a capacity-building fellowship related to space education and research by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Read full story.

Programs offered

Doctor or Philosophy in Physics (Ph.D. Physics)
Master of Science in Physics (M.S. Physics)
Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics (B.S. Applied Physics)

Career tracks

Majority of the graduates of the B.S. Applied Physics program work in semiconductors, computer programming, information technology, technology-related, and consulting industries in Cebu, throughout the Philippines, and even overseas. Applied Physics graduates can also work in government agencies like the Department of Science and Technology (e.g., PAGASA, PHIVOLCS) or teach in high schools and higher education institutions. Graduates may also choose to pursue advanced degrees in physics and become university professors and researchers both in academe and industry.

Employers of our graduates include:

Semiconductors – Fairchild, Taiyo Yuden, Intel
Tech-related – Lexmark, Olympus, Knowles, Lear, Timex, Hitachi (HGST)
Government agencies – PAGASA, PHIVOLCS
Food – Nestle
Consulting and IT-related – Accenture, Kyocera

Research groups

Complex Systems Group
This group study systems that consist of a large number of individual components, each of which follow simple rules of interaction. One of the striking features of complex systems is that they display emergent properties that are different from the behavior displayed by each individual component. Basically, the behavior of the whole (complex system) is not a simple sum of its parts. Current researches involve modeling different complex systems of interest including granular materials, biological cell’s internal transport, vehicular traffic, and climate and earthquake networks. For more information, contact Marissa G. Pastor.

Materials Science Group
The Materials Science Group collaborates with the semiconductor and optics industry based in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ). Researches focus on optical or electrical characterization of semiconductors or optical elements. For more information, contact Raymund L. A. C. Sarmiento Jr.

Medical Biophysics Group-Center for Tissue Engineering and Biological Soft Materials
The Medical Biophysics Group was designated by the DOST Science for Change Program as a Niche Center for Research in the Regions (NICER) and is now called the Center for Tissue Engineering and Biological Soft Materials. The Center investigates and characterizes underlying principles governing biological systems modeled with controlled complexity using novel and adapted tools in theoretical and experimental physics. Scientific findings provide insights which are translated into clinical applications, further contributing new knowledge relevant to the regional and national economy. The group employs an inter-disciplinary approach by collaborating with chemists, biologists, mathematicians, medical practitioners, and engineers. Two research laboratories compose this group.

Soft Matter Lab – This research lab is used for cell cultures and preparation of biological and soft matter samples for biophysics research.

Biophotonics Lab – Microscopes and optical tweezers are used to probe the physical properties of biological media such as living cells, entangled polymer networks, and DNA-polymer composites.

MBG is looking for one post-doctoral researcher, a research assistant, and a support staff (see poster here). For more information, contact Rommel G. Bacabac.

Photonics Group
Photoacoustic spectroscopy, interferometry, and laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV) are the main activities in this laboratory. Photoacoustic spectroscopy measures trace concentrations of gases with applications in biology, agriculture, medicine, and environmental science. Applications for interferometry range from small-vibration measurements to monitoring minute concentrations of pollutants, while LDV has applications in fluid dynamics. For more information, contact Edcel John L. Salumbides.

Theoretical, Computational Science, and Engineering Group
This group is engaged in theoretical and computational researches that support experimental efforts. It also conducts computational and theoretical work on condensed-matter systems such as nanostructures, mesoscopic systems, superconductivity, acoustic and thermal conduction in solids, and light harvesting for solar energy conversion in solar cells and in photosynthetic systems like plants and bacteria. The Computational Physics Group also makes use of computational modeling and simulation to study a wide range of interdisciplinary fields ranging from biological systems to stock markets. Major projects undertaken by this group include:

USC Phil-LiDAR Research Center (in collaboration with the Department of Biology and the School of Engineering) – This research center is part of the Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) Project of the Department of Science and Technology and the University of the Philippines. Its primary function is the analysis of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data gathered by other Phil-LiDAR research centers.

Magnetic Data Acquisition System Project (MAGDAS) (in collaboration with the International Center for Space Weather Studies and Education in Kyushu University) – The department hosts a Magnetic Data Acquisition System as part of the Circum-Pan-Pacific Magnetometer Network.

Ionosonde for Ionospheric Studies (in collaboration with the National Institute of Communications and Information Technology, Japan) – The department is hosting an ionosonde for the National Institute of Communications and Information Technology and serves as a data collection site for studying electrodynamic processes in the ionosphere.

For more information, contact Roland Emerito S. Otadoy

Facilities and equipment
  • lab equipment
  • 6-color iPF8410SE Large Format Printer
  • 12-color iPF8410 Large Format Printer
  • Current preamplifier (Princeton Applied Research Model 181)
  • Fastec TS3 fastcamera (1,200 frames per second)
  • Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (see photo above)
  • He-Ne laser scanning confocal microscope
  • Ionosonde for ionospheric studies
  • Laser diode-based scanning confocal microscope
  • Lock-in amplifier (Signal Recovery Model 5110)
  • Magnetometer for space weather studies
  • Optical Table
  • Optical tweezers
  • Photoacoustic spectroscopy-based trace gas detector
  • PI E-709 Pifoc objective z-axis controller
  • Thermo SCIENTIFIC Nanodrop Lite Spectrophotometer
  • Thermo SCIENTIFIC Revco CXF ultralow freezer
  • Ultimaker 3D Printer
  • Unico Powerspin BX 6 x 10 mL centrifuge