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International Research Centre for Experimental Physics

Expanding our understanding: from atoms to galaxies

The Physics Building was designed by John McGeagh in 1955. Constructed in 1958 and opened in 1962 by the Queen Mother, it was built to replace the old physics block located on the south side of the quadrangle. Refurbished in 2004, the building’s most distinctive feature is the cantilevered staircase of its entrance hall.

IRCEP, a purpose built 4700m2 state-of-the-art laboratory space situated alongside the existing Physics Building, opened in June 2005, having been funded under the Support Programme for University Research initiative which recognises the importance of university research as an engine for economic growth.

The building is now home to astrophysicists discovering supernovae and exoplanets; plasma physicists using the most powerful laser in a European University; and nano-scientists creating and understanding new materials.

This tour will give you an insight into the history of the building, the work that now takes place in it, and how that work is helping to drive the Northern Ireland economy and extend our understanding of the Universe.

This tour includes:

  • A guided visit to the ANSIN advanced material research and development hub — a University-industry collaboration in partnership with Seagate Technology — led by Professor Robert Bowman.
  • A guided visit to the Astrophysics Research Centre — led by Professor Alan Fitzsimmons.

Did you know?

  • Causeway Sensors Ltd. was recently spun-out from IRCEP. Another recent IRCEP spin-out, Andor Technology, went on to create over 300 jobs in Belfast.
  • Queen's astronomers have discovered waves in the sun heating gas to over a million degrees and watched a star being ripped apart by a black hole.
  • In 2011, physicists at Queen's were among an international team of astronomers that discovered the fastest rotating star ever recorded, spinning at one million miles per hour.