The Department of Physics and Astronomy is located in the heart of the University’s Oakland campus as a complex of five interconnected buildings: Allen Hall, Old Engineering Hall, Space Research Coordination Center, Thaw Hall, and the Nuclear and Particle Physics Laboratory. Wireless connectivity is available throughout the five-building complex. 

This complex houses glassblowing, machine, and electronics shops and specialized clean rooms for electronics assembly. The shops are staffed with expert technicians who build and repair high-quality, specialized equipment for the research and teaching programs of the department. An informal course in machine shop techniques and safety is available to students who wish to use the equipment.


Experimental research in condensed matter physics, solid state physics, nanoscience, biological physics, and atomic physics is conducted primarily in departmental laboratory facilities on the Oakland campus. In recent years, the University has invested substantial resources to upgrade the research laboratories to the demanding standards of cutting-edge experiments. The experimental particle physics research groups use in-house expertise and facilities to design and construct equipment for use at national and international facilities such as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, CERN in Switzerland, and J-PARC in Japan.

Observational research in astrophysics and cosmology is conducted at many national, international, and private observatory facilities throughout the world and in space. For example, ground-based observational programs are or have been conducted at Kitt Peak and Mount Hopkins in Arizona; at Cerro Tololo, Las Campanas, and La Silla in Chile; at Mauna Kea in Hawaii; and at the Sloan Digital Sky Survey facility at Apache Point in New Mexico. Pittsburgh faculty members also make use of space-based telescopes—for example, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Chandra X-Ray Telescope, and GALEX UV Telescope. University of Pittsburgh researchers also are members of several current and/or future large-telescope consortia: the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), and Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).


In addition to on-line access to journals, the physics and astronomy library collection is housed in the Benedum Engineering Library, located across the street from Allen Hall. The collection of books and bound periodicals is supplemented continually by new acquisitions as well as subscriptions to hundreds of technical journals from many countries. The library also provides access to national information retrieval networks. Students have access to this library as well as to the University’s main Hillman Library, the science library at Carnegie Mellon University, and the Pennsylvania Repository at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, which are all within walking distance. An additional astronomy library is located at the Allegheny Observatory.