The physics department, founded at the inception of the institute in 1917, is among the oldest  in the country and has a glorious history. Sir JC Bose, the founder of modern science in the Indian subcontinent, had already won wide international admiration as a distinguished physicist. This acclaim was due to the first ever millimeter wave communication experiments conducted by him for which he had himself developed all required instrumentation. Bose’s Galena detector was the first semiconductor device as noted by Sir Neville Mott and Walter Brattain. The feat is acknowledged by IEEE as a great milestone in the field of radio and wireless communication.

Debendra Mohan Bose and his co-workers made globally recognised contributions in cosmic rays including the first recording of pi-meson tracks. Shyama Das Chatterjee pioneered the study of fission phenomena and the measurement of environmental radioactivity and radiocarbon dating. Furthering the legacy of our founder, most of the experiments were conducted with instruments designed and built internally, by researchers like Ananda Mohan Ghosh.

We are a national pioneer in research on astroparticle physics and cosmic rays, foundations of quantum physics and interdisciplinary physics. The institute participates in ALICE at LHC, CERN and is the nodal centre in India to facilitate Indian activities at the largest upcoming accelerator facility worldwide - Facility for Antiproton Ion Research (FAIR) at GSI, Germany.

High quality research is presently carried out in the department in the areas of biophysics, complex systems, network science, condensed matter physics, materials science, high energy physics, astroparticle physics, interdisciplinary physics, quantum physics, quantum information, nuclear physics and radiation physics.