The Institute of Physics (IF), established in 1938, has evolved to become a well-established academic institution and one of the most important physics research center in the country, and has earned international solid international recognition. A very significant portion of physics research conducted in Mexico takes place at the IF, while the teaching and training of human resources continue to be part of its fundamental activities.
The contribution of the IF to the development of physics throughout the country is remarkable as can be appreciated in the quality of its scientific output and the publication of nearly 6100 articles, most of them in international journals, this in addition to many other research products. As a result, the members of its academic body have received numerous prizes, awards and accolades.
The Institute of Physics has played a significant role in promoting scientific development at the University and throughout the country. It has done so by participating in the creation of new research and teaching institutions and by furthering the dissemination of science by training the faculty who would become part of such institutions at their inception; in many instances, these institutions were initially established within the IF. Among these the following should be highlighted: the UNAM Institute of Materials Research, formerly the Materials Center; the UNAM Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology, formerly the Instruments Center; the Institute of Physics of the Autonomous University of Guanajuato; the Research in Physics Center of the University of Sonora and the National Nuclear Energy Commission which is currently the National Nuclear Research Institute. In addition, three external IF departments became the: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Center (Ensenada,1997) formerly the Condensate Matter Science Center; the Institute of Physical Sciences (Cuernavaca, 1998), formerly the Physical Sciences Center; and the Center of Applied Physics and Advanced Technology (Querétaro, 2002). Special mention should be made of the relevant role of the IF researchers in launching important projects for the widespread communication and dissemination of science, such as the Universum museum and the Museo de la Luz (Museum of Light). In addition, the IF has been key in defining and implementing scientific policy and programs, not only at the domestic, but also at the Latin-American levels.
The enormous social responsibility that our Institute has assumed towards the country is clearly evidenced by our rich background and our commitment to the mission which has been entrusted to our Institute of contributing to higher education. This social responsibility is fulfilled by conducting cutting edge research and training top level researchers and specialists; we further this commitment by disseminating our results by outreach programs to link-up with other sectors of society such as those of education, health, industry and the public at large. We thus contribute to technological development and generally to the cultural assets of the country.
The IF has a numerous and qualified researcher and technician staff who work in fields of knowledge that cover a wide range of the observable spectrum of the Universe: from the tiny microcosmos to the broad horizons of cosmology. Research is conducted mainly in the following fields: nuclear and radiation physics, medical physics, atomic and molecular physics, condensate matter, optics, material and nanoscience physics, complex systems, statistical physics, biophysics, elemental particle physics, field theory and cosmology, quantum physics and quantum optics. The results obtained are mainly published in international journals, seminars and conferences. Moreover, the IF has a modern research laboratory infrastructure where a great diversity of experimental activity takes place and has furthermore first level research support units.
The teaching and training of human resources has been of primordial importance for the Institute. The IF offers students the opportunity of short research stays, internships, and provides them with valuable advisory guidance at the undergraduate level on topics that may be of interest. Students who wish to gain greater insight into the study of physics and its relationship with other fields, may continue with master, doctorate or post doctorate studies under the guidance of our professors and researchers. The IF has had a noteworthy impact on the Faculty of Sciences and on its graduate program in physics for nearly eight decades. At the undergraduate level, IF professors teach in the physics, biomedical physics and earth-sciences programs. The IF also participates in the graduate programs for physical sciences and material sciences and engineering.
The communication and dissemination of science are also considered activities of fundamental importance. These tasks are supported by the Outreach Department, which is tasked with creatively setting up channels to communicate the initiatives of our professors, and also to act as a link with the media. The Liaison Department is tasked with strengthening relations between the IF and other academic entities and sectors of society (including industry) by entering into inter-institutional, intellectual property licensing, service supply and other type of agreements.
The IF has, as of 2019, eight departments, as follows (year of creation in parentheses): Theoretical Physics (1939), Solid State (1960), Condensate Matter (1981), Experimental Physics (1983), Chemical Physics (1989), Complex Systems (1990), Quantum and Photonic Physics (2018) and Nuclear Physics and Radiation Applications (2018). The IF actively participates in four National Laboratories, which were created with the support of the Mexican National Science and Technology Council (CONACyT) and the UNAM: i) Gamma Ray HAWC Laboratory, ii) Mass Spectrometry with Accelerators Laboratory (LEMA), iii) National Science Laboratory for Research and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage (LANCIC) and iv) National Quantum Matter Laboratory: Ultracold Matter and Quantum Information (LANMAC). Furthermore, IF research professors collaborate in projects conducted at well known international laboratories.