Theoretical High Energy Physics

What are the microscopic degrees of freedom in quantum gravity and how does the gravitational force emerge from them?

Can we find and solve interesting holographic models of quantum gravity?

What really happens at black hole horizons in quantum gravity?

How hard it is to prepare states in quantum field theory using limited resources and what does it teach us about quantum gravity?

How to describe far from equilibrium quantum fields from first principles? What are patterns of thermalization in quantum field theory?

These are some of the fascinating questions at the frontier of our understanding of the universe that our group is investigating.



- Faculty -

Michal P. Heller

My interests lie in broadly-understood emergent phenomena in quantum field theories. I am using tools from quantum information science to understand how dynamical spacetime emerges from quantum field theory within holography. I am also studying universal behaviors arising in thermalization processes of quantum fields, such as relativistic hydrodynamics and non-thermal fixed points.

Thomas Mertens

My research interests are in quantum gravity, black hole physics, holography and string theory. In particular, I am driven by the mysteries surrounding black holes and their horizons in quantum gravity. The concrete approach I am pursuing is that of exactly solvable lower-dimensional holographic gravity models (such as Jackiw-Teitelboim (JT) gravity and its cousins), where explicit quantum gravitational calculations can be done and interpreted. This research program is supported by the ERC Starting Grant BHHQG.

My earlier work focused on other aspects of black hole quantum physics, including string theoretic descriptions of the stretched horizon and black hole entropy, and the role of edge states in the entanglement entropy of bulk fields across the black hole horizon.

- Post-docs -

We will have one or more postdoc positions available to start in the Fall of 2024.
To apply, please use the joint postdoc application with deadline December 17 2023.

Jacopo Papalini

My research is centered on exploring lower-dimensional models of quantum gravity, aiming to extract crucial insights into black hole physics and the quantum characteristics of spacetime beyond the semiclassical realm. One particularly promising avenue is the investigation of JT gravity, which provides an unparalleled level of control, due to the exact solvability of partition functions on diverse topologies and correlators.

Furthermore, my focus extends to understanding the interplay between the first-order formulation of these gravity models and lower-dimensional gauge theories, where intriguing nonperturbative effects can be detected and the computation of interesting observables, such as Wilson lines, can be tackled using diverse techniques, including the application of supersymmetric localization.

Alexandre Serantes

More info soon...


Andreas Belaey

Technical and conceptual problems regarding a quantum theory of gravity and a microscopic description of black holes have been solved in the lower-dimensional setting of 2d Jackiw-Teitelboim (JT) gravity. I aim to understand whether the lessons of JT gravity generalize to other related models of lower-dimensional gravity, and to eventually go up in the number of dimensions, starting with 3d first. A unifying approach is to exploit the underlying gauge symmetries.

Francesca Mariani

My research focuses on lower-dimensional models of quantum gravity and their connections with higher-dimensional solutions. In this context, 2d Jackiw-Teitelboim (JT) Gravity is an extremely useful tool at our disposal. This 2-dimensional model is fully solvable and captures the near-horizon dynamics of higher-dimensional near-extremal black hole solutions.

Fabio Ori

More info soon...

吴奇峰 (Qi-Feng Wu)

My interests are mainly focused on quantum gravity and quantum information. I am trying to use ideas from information theory to understand how gravity emerges from quantum mechanics. In order to achieve this goal, the key is to understand the gravitational correspondence of some information theoretic concepts, including entanglement, complexity, quantum error correction, etc.

Thomas Tappeiner

More info soon...

- Former MSc STUDENTS -

Andreas Belaey
Boris De Vos
Silke Van der Schueren

Information for Prospective MSc Students

MSc Thesis Subjects 2023-2024

Our MSc thesis topics for the academic year 2023-2024 can be found in the pdf below. Please contact us for further information.

Download PDF


Our group provides several Master's courses in the Physics and Astronomy program.

Taught by Thomas Mertens and offered every year in the first term.

Mandatory course
Language: Dutch

Taught by Michal P. Heller and offered every second year in the first term (the next course starts in September 2022).

Optional course
Language: English

Taught by Michal P. Heller and offered every second year in the second term (the next course starts in February 2024).

Optional course
Language: English



Theoretical High Energy Physics

The group is located on the second floor in the building S9 on Campus Sterre.

Our visiting address:

Department of Physics and Astronomy
Ghent University
Krijgslaan 281 S9
B-9000 Gent, Belgium

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