History of the Department

Looking down 100 meters into the cavern that holds the ATLAS detector
Looking down 100 meters into the cavern that holds the ATLAS detector

Research in particle and nuclear physics has been taking place at Tel Aviv University since the early days of the Physics Department. This page describes briefly the organizational history of the Department of Particle Physics since the division of the School of Physics and Astronomy into departments.


In 1982 the Faculty of Exact Sciences instituted a structure reorganization, in which the Physics Department was recognized as having four independent groups: High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, Solid State Physics, and Astronomy and Astrophysics. These four groups became departments when the Physics Department turned into the School of Physics and Astronomy in 1985. The four departments were the hubs for research activities and graduate studies, and their representatives participated in the School committees that dealt with all academic matters of the School, including teaching, long-term planning, and staff hiring and promotion.


Prof. Yuval Ne’eman, who founded the Physics Department, was keen on establishing first-rate research activities in both theory and experiment. In this spirit, members of the Department of High Energy Physics played essential roles in forming research collaborations at CERN and DESY, helping to bring about Israel’s participation in experiments at the LEP, HERA and LHC accelerators. This led to Israel obtaining observer status on the CERN council in 1991 and full CERN membership in 2014. Researchers in the Department of Nuclear Physics carried out major experimental research at TRIUMF, while also participating in experiments at CERN. This work laid the foundations for our current research program, both in theory and experiment.


In the Department of High Energy Physics, the first group of theorists included Yakir Aharonov, Yoseph Dothan, Asher Gotsman, David Horn, Larry Horwitz, Uri Maor, Yuval Ne’eman, Shmuel Nussinov and Joseph Rosen. The experimentalist group consisted of Gideon Alexander, Odette Benary, Shmuel Dagan, Jacob Grunhaus, Aharon Levy, David Lissauer and Yona Oren. The first experimental group in the Department of Nuclear Physics consisted of Jonas Alster, Danny Ashery, Murray Moinester, and Avivi Yavin. The first theorists were Naftali Auerbach and Yitzhak Kelson, who were later joined by Judah Eisenberg.


In 2005 the Department of Nuclear Physics and the Department of High Energy Physics merged into the present Department of Particle Physics.


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