In 1967, on the basis of the University of Latvia Department of Experimental Physics, the Spectroscopy Problem Laboratory (headed by Elza Krauliņa) was established, which was engaged in the investigation of various elemental collisions and photoprocesses in the gaseous phase, using modern spectroscopy methods and lasers. After expanding its research activities, the Spectroscopy Problem Laboratory completely occupied the building on Šķūņu street 4 in the Old Riga.


In 1994, upon an initiative of prof. Māris Jansons, the Spectroscopy Problem Laboratory and the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics (established in 1957 within the Latvian Academy of Sciences Institute of Physics, headed by Viktors Veldre, engaged in studies of electron and atomic collisions, nuclear physics, magnetohydrodynamics and solid state physics) were merged into a new structure under the auspices of the University of Latvia Faulty of Physics and Mathematics – Institute of Atomic Physics and Spectroscopy (IAPS), where experimental and theoretical research was continued (development of optical fibres and optoelectronic devices, applications of optical methods in medicine, etc.).

An important milestone in the history of the Institute was the European Commission's support for the Fifth Framework Programme project ‘Centre of Excellence in basic nanophysics research and applications’ in 2002.

In 2010, the association "FOTONIKA – LV", consisting of the Institute of Astronomy, Institute of Atomic Physics and Spectroscopy, Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics, was established at the University of Latvia.

As the institute enlarged, a new laboratory was established in 2017 - "Quantum Optics Laboratory".


At the beginning 2019, the Institute moved to the Academic Centre of the University of Latvia, House of Science at Jelgavas street 3, near Torņakalns.


In August 2019, another the IAPS laboratory was established – "Optical biosensors and functional nanomaterials" with the aim of developing nano-materials research.



  • Māris Jansons (1994 – 1997) – founder of IAPS
  • Mārcis Auziņš (1998 – 2003)
  • Jānis Spīgulis (2004 – 2012)
  • Aigars Ekers (2012 – 2014)
  • Inga Šīrante (2017 onwards)