University of ChicagoKavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

Seeking answers to some of the most profound questions about matter, energy and the universe

What is “dark energy” and what role has it played in the evolution of the universe? What physics shaped the universe in its first moments? What can high-energy particles tell us about the unification of forces? The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) approaches these questions through experiment and theory, with a strong emphasis on seeding and funding new research initiatives. Established in 2001 as the Center for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, it took its current name in 2004 following the award of a generous endowment from The Kavli Foundation, which ensured that the institute would be a permanent entity at the University of Chicago.

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Abigail Vieregg

Director, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics


  • STRUCTURES IN THE UNIVERSE: This is an experimental effort aimed at gauging the expansion history of the universe and studying dark energy.
  • COSMIC BACKGROUND RADIATION: This program focuses on measuring the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation to investigate the first instants of the universe.
  • PARTICLES FROM SPACE: Bridging the gap between particle physics and astrophysics, this program studies ultra-energetic particles from space to gain insight into their origins, the nature of dark matter, quantum gravity and the structure of space-time itself.
  • THEORY: The mission of this program is to develop theoretical models that draw upon and advance KICP’s experimental work. Working at the interface of particle physics, cosmology and gravitation theory, the theory program focuses on topics such as the origin and expansion of the universe, the evolution of large-scale structure, models of dark matter and dark energy and the nature of space-time on small scales.

South Pole Telescope

Supported in part by KICP, the South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter telescope at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole research station in Antarctica. Taking advantage of the exceptionally clear, dry, and stable atmosphere at the South Pole, the SPT has been used to map large areas of the sky with high sensitivity at millimeter wavelengths.

Photo by Dr. Daniel Michalik, NSF

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At Kavli Institutes around the world, scientists explore the frontiers of science in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics.

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