“Infinities and indivisibles transcend our finite understanding, the former on account of their magnitude, the latter because of their smallness; Imagine what they are when combined.”

The Postgraduate and Research Department of Physics has achieved the enviable distinction of being one of the oldest and largest departments at St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata. Father Eugene Lafont, a brilliant scientist and educator who played a pioneering role in popularising science in and around Calcutta, set the groundwork for it in the middle of the nineteenth century. Other Jesuit fathers with notable academic accomplishments namely Fr. Verstraeten and Fr. Bonhome, have greatly benefited the department in many ways. This department has been offering a post-graduate physics course since 2006 in addition to the undergraduate courses (honours and pass). A PhD programme, under the supervision of its faculty members, was initiated in the department in 2016. Since July 2018, this department has been running the B.Sc. course under the CBCS curriculum introduced by the UGC. A new choice-based syllabus for the M.Sc. course has been introduced in the current year.

The department’s faculty members are highly skilled, knowledgeable, and devoted to providing quality education in the best manner possible. The majority of them have taken a leading role in cutting-edge physics and cross-disciplinary research. They have published research articles for numerous scholarly journals and have been invited to give lectures on their areas of expertise at a variety of academic institutions. Some of their work has also claimed patent rights.

The Science Academies’ Lecture Workshop, jointly organized by The National Academy of Sciences, The Indian National Science Academy and the Indian Academy of Sciences are held in the department of physics on a regular basis. The Fr. Verstraeten Memorial lecture is also an annual lecture organised by the department with eminent scientists as invited speakers. The Physics department have also held a one of its kind refresher course in experimental physics jointly with the Indian Academy of Science with faculty members as resource persons. In association with FELO, several serial workshops like JESCOL and RAWA were held in previous years. In recent years, the department of Physics have also initiated the Dr.Ranjan Ray Commemoration Seminar and Fr. Eugene Lafont memorial Lecture.

The M.Sc. course includes the teaching of sophisticated computer programming and computer interfacing using the languages of Matlab and Python.

The special papers offered by the department for the M.Sc. course in Physics are:

  1. Astro-particle Physics
  2. Condensed Matter Physics

After lying dormant for more than a century, under the able guidance of the erstwhile Principal Fr. Mathew and enthusiasm of some faculty members of the Physics department, initiatives were taken to restart scientific activities in the observatory around 2007, with the old telescope and some make shift arrangements. This was in coincidence with the opening of the post-graduate course in Physics, with special emphasis on Astro-particle Physics, in collaboration with Bose Institute, Kolkata. The Department of Physics manages the Father Eugene Lafont Observatory, with the Principal being its director, Dr. Shibaji Banerjee , being its Assistant Director and Dr. Suparna Roy Chowdhury, currently. It is the oldest and the biggest observatory housed on an educational campus in India. A part of the research in astrophysics is carried out in Father Eugene Lafont Observatory (FELO) which is a twin observatory consisting of a stellar observatory with a motorized dome and a separate sliding roof observatory meant for solar observations. Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory has many electronics based experimental units related to both analogue and digital communications, fibre optics and microcontrollers. Hall effect measurements and magneto-resistance setups are also included.

Academic activities of the department has been included in the report from ISRO on ‘Space Research in India’ for 44th COSPAR Scientific Assembly held between 16th – 22nd July, 2022, at Athens, Greece.