List of PH3110 BSc Projects on offer in 2022/23
Each finalist BSc student will have to do one project in the Spring term. Each project lasts the whole term.
Below is the list of BSc projects on offer for supervision in academic year 22/23. Each of the items (A, B, C, ...) listed under each supervisor's name is a separate project.
Prof. Vladimir Antonov - Nanophysics
- Physics and Technology Related to Terahertz Spectroscopy and the Refractive Index of Teflon
- The Operation of a Single Electron Transistor
Dr Greg Ashton - Astrophysics – Priority given to BSc Astrophysics students
- Measuring the properties of black holes observed by the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors
Since 2015, we have observed nearly 100 black hole collisions using kilometre-scale interferometers. But, these signals are buried in the noise. You will learn how to apply parameter estimation algorithms to extract the signals and infer the mass and spin of the colliding black holes. This is a computer-based project which will use python; PH2150 is sufficient.
- Algorithms for inference: from stochastic sampling to simulation-based inference
At the heart of many astronomical measurements is an algorithm to infer the source properties. You will learn the details of stochastic sampling inference algorithms used across physics to perform parameter estimation. You will then investigate how new Machine Learning algorithms are able to replace stochastic sampling yielding instantaneous results. This is a computer-based project which will use python; PH2150 is sufficient.
- Developing a visualisation tool to explain how a gravitational-wave interferometer works
Perhaps the frequently asked question when explaining how we observe black holes using a Michelson interferometer is “If light waves are stretched by gravitational waves, how can we use light as a ruler to detect gravitational waves?”. You will develop a toy model of the interferometer to demonstrate the subtle answer to this question. The result will be a visualisation to help scientists and the public understand the often misunderstood answer to this question. This is a computer-based project which will use python; PH2150 is sufficient.
- Developing an N-body simulation software with post-Newtonian corrections Throughout astronomy, we must model the dynamics of astronomical bodies. This is done by “N-body” software that evolves the governing equations of motion from some initial values. You will develop an N-body code from scratch, and investigate the importance of post-Newtonian corrections. This is a computer-based project which will use python; PH2150 is sufficient.
Dr Tracey Berry - Particle Physics
- Search for New Physics using the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider
Learn how to identify known particles in the ATLAS detector and then investigate beyond the Standard Model particles/physics (such as new Z' bosons or gravitons) from studying their decay products (particles). This project involves writing code in C++/Python. Prior knowledge of C++/Python is useful, but not required.
Prof. Veronique Boisvert - Particle Physics and Climate Science
- Studies related with the top quark using the ATLAS detector and simulated data
Investigation into aspects of top quark physics involving writing code in C++. Prior experience in C++ is not necessary, PH2150 is sufficient.
- Studies related with Climate Science
Investigation into aspects of climate science, focusing on climate change. This is a computing-based project (PH2150 is sufficient). This project is only available to students registered on (or officially auditing) PH3040.
Dr Andrew Casey - Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics
- Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics
Prof. Glen Cowan - Astrophysics Projects – Priority given to BSc Astrophysics students
Both of the projects below involve data collection with the observatory and data analysis using python. Students should have taken PH2260, PH3900 and PH3920 (concurrent) and be comfortable with the computing and data analysis elements of PH2150 and PH3010.
- Photometry of the White Dwarf 40 Eri B
The project will include:
- Observation of the 40 Eridani system with RVB filters.
- Characterization of the telescope and CCD camera, Statistical model of CCD output, Student's t model of Point Spread Function.
- Photometry of the White Dwarf 40 Eridani B (and companions A and C).
- Interpretation of measurements, including estimate of WD's temperature, luminosity, radius.
- Measurement of Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for open clusters
The project will include:
- Observation of an open cluster with RBV filters.
- Algorithm for background estimation and star finding.
- Photometry using either aperture method or PSF fit.
- Interpretation of the HR diagram (cluster age, main-sequence slope).
Prof. Stephen Gibson - Accelerator Physics
- Microwave devices for accelerator diagnostics and quantum computing (Dr Alexey Lyapin)
A range of activities will be offered as projects ranging from purely simulation work in 3D electromagnetic simulation software to hands-on fabrication of printed circuit electronics boards in the lab. In most cases, the mix can be adjusted and tailored to the interests of the student. We are working on the following questions:
- nanometre resolution position measurements of particle beams in accelerators;
- femtosecond resolution beam arrival measurements for free electron lasers and diffraction imagers;
- readout systems for quantum computing, including radio frequency synthesizers, direct digital synthesis and arbitrary waveform generation, downconverter systems and digital signal processing.
- Medical accelerator physics (Dr William Shields)
The student will have a choice of two projects, allowing them to choose either a more accelerator based project or a medical project. Some knowledge of accelerator physics is desirable. The project will require programming in python; competence in python programming is a requirement.
- Option 1: Simulating ion therapy for dose characterisation and prediction
This project will investigate the role of nuclear fragmentation in simulations of ion therapy particle accelerators. By modelling doses delivered to a target in a radiotherapy environment, the student will characterise the delivered dose and the secondary particles originating from fragmentation of the therapeutic nuclei. Relationships between the dose and secondary particles will be established, working towards predictive methods of online dose reconstruction, particularly the dose profile, location, and density.
- Option 2: Dose formation in an ion therapy accelerator
Delivering a therapeutic quality beam during proton/ion therapy requires performance considerations of the both the accelerator & the gantry nozzle, the system that shapes the patient-specific beam prior to delivery. In an example hadron therapy accelerator model, the student will simulate the dose delivery, investigating & optimising the magnetic beam line components & gantry nozzle to improve deliverable dose rates & beam quality.
Prof. Jon Goff - Condensed Matter Physics
- Sodium-ion battery materials
The introduction of electric vehicles and renewable sources of energy has led to increased demand for batteries, and sodium is under consideration as a replacement for lithium. This project investigates how sodium ordering affects electrochemical performance. X-ray diffraction experiments will be performed (if possible) and computer simulations will also be performed to model the data.
- Disorder-induced quantum spin liquids
It has recently been proposed that structural disorder can be used induce long-range quantum entanglement. Structural diffuse neutron scattering has been observed from such a candidate quantum spin liquid. This is a theoretical project, and the aim is to understand the defect structures from the diffuse scattering data using computer simulations.
Dr Andrew Ho - Condensed Matter Theory
Non-equilibrium dynamics and thermalisation in simple quantum systems
- Quantum time evolution and thermalisation in a single quantum spin-1/2 coupled to a larger quantum bath
This is a theoretical project involving mainly computer simulation of quantum time evolution for a bunch of spin-1/2’s coupled with neighbours via an exchange coupling. The questions to be addressed can involve one or more of: what does the short time evolution look like? what conditions are needed for some particular initial state to achieve thermalisation in this quantum system + bath set up? What is the timescale and form of the relaxation to equilibrium? If the system does not relax to equilibrium to eg. a Boltzmann distribution, what does it do? The project builds on material from Quantum mechanics (especially spin-1/2), PH2610 Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics. Some exposure to one of Mathematica, Python, C++, etc is expected. Reference: Genway et al., Physical Review Letters 105, 260402 (2010); Physical Review Letters 111, 130408 (2013).
- Epidemic modelling via the physics of the kinetics of Crystallization
In non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, it is well known that quite different phenomenon like forest fires, epidemic spreading, and crystallization, etc can have surprisingly similar modelling in terms of coupled differential equations of "particles" or "agents". In this computational project, we will try to see if Covid-19 infection in various countries at various times could be modelled using some simple physical models. Prerequisites: some exposure to one of Mathematica, Python, C++, etc.
Dr Gregoire Ithier - Condensed Matter Quantum Devices
- Simulating the dynamics of a system of interacting identical quantum particles
The aim of the project is to study how an equilibrium distribution can emerge from the unitary quantum evolution of a closed system made of identical particles (e.g. fermions). From an initial out-of-equilibrium state, the objective is to integrate numerically the Schrödinger equation and calculate predictions for physical observables such as particle occupation numbers. At large times, the possibility of a stationary state will be studied and any mismatch with the theoretical prediction (Fermi-Dirac distribution in the case of fermions) will be investigated. This project requires a good ability in python programming.
Dr Pavel Karataev - Particle Physics
- Advanced simulations of electromagnetic processes in condensed media at ultra-relativistic energies
- Design and experimental test of efficient electromagnetic materials (complex structures and metamaterials) for applications in charged particle accelerators
- Development of a miniature pyroelectric accelerator
Dr Asher Kaboth - Particle Physics
- Modelling Dark Matter density distribution in galaxy rotation curves
The student will investigate how the observed rotation of stars around the centre of a galaxy gives evidence for the existence of Dark Matter.
Dr Nikolas Kauer - Theoretical Particle Physics
- Higgs Boson Decay: Phenomenology and Theory
This project explores the phenomenological and theoretical structure of Higgs boson decays in the Standard Model (SM). The project requires very good mathematical and programming skills and the ability to carry out basic Feynman diagram calculations. In the phenomenology part of the project you will study the dependence of the partial decay widths and total decay width of the SM Higgs boson on its mass, and analyse the corresponding branching ratios. In the theory part of the project, you will get experience with making theoretical predictions for partial Higgs decay widths. More specifically, you will derive the formulae for the H --> W- W+ and H --> fermion anti-fermion decay modes. Time permitting the scope of the project can be expanded.
Prof. Jocelyn Monroe - Particle Physics / Particle Astrophysics
- Characterisation of the the photon detection unit for the DarkSide-20k dark matter search experiment
This is a project with the Dark Matter Research group, focused on some of the instrumentation and methods used in dark matter search experiments. The project involves both the photon-detection hardware and software (python or root). (Information on the DarkSide-20k experiment can be found here.)
- Simulation of the DarkSide-50 Dark Matter Search Experiment
This is a project with the Dark Matter Research group, focused on some of the simulation tools and methods used in dark matter search experiments. The project is computer-based, and will involve simulating dark matter interaction signals in the DarkSide-50 dark matter experiment. (Information on the DarkSide-50 experiment can be found here.)
Dr James Nicholls - Nanophysics
- 1D Ballistic Wires
The goal is to model the electrical and thermal transport properties of a ballistic wire, a thin wire where there is little or no scattering, starting from the transmission probability and Fermi functions, which are themselves functions of energy and temperature. Python will be used to numerically calculate the electrical conductance, thermopower, and thermal conductance, from integrals in the literature. This project is computer-based and builds on material introduced in 2nd year Solid State Physics.
- Resistance of a Two-Dimensional Electron Gas
Solve Laplace's equations subject to the appropriate boundary conditions, to visualise the current flow and calculate the resistance of an arbitrarily shaped 2D conductor with Ohmic contacts on its perimeter. Simulations will be performed using a standard finite element package (FlexPDE), and will be applicable to experimental studies of 2D electron gases in semiconductors and graphene. This project is computer-based and builds on material introduced in 2nd year Electromagnetism and Solid State Physics.
Dr Philipp Niklowitz - Condensed Matter Physics
- Simulation of neutron diffraction of magnetic materials
Projects will involve application of available software to specific problems and coding of new simulation tools. Simulations will be compared to neutron diffraction data of metallic systems with relevance to magnetic quantum criticality and magnetically mediated superconductivity.
- Simulation of inelastic neutron scattering of magnetic materials
Projects will involve application of available software to specific problems and coding of new simulation tools. Simulations will be compared to inelastic neutron scattering data of metallic systems near magnetic quantum phase transitions with relevance to critical phenomena and magnetically mediated superconductivity.
Dr Xavier Rojas - Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics
- Hydrodynamic Quantum Analogy (lab-based)
A recent discovery shows that a droplet bouncing at the surface of a vibrating fluid bath could interact with its own wave field in such a way that it exhibits quantum-like behaviour. While these features were previously thought to be exclusive to the microscopic world, they can now be observed using this quantum analog system (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIyTZDHuarQ ). This lab-based project involves mounting a low-cost apparatus to realise the experiment, studying the bouncing of droplets using photo/video imaging, and finding the range of parameters to study quantum-like features.
- Hydrodynamic Quantum Analogy (computer-based)
A recent discovery shows that a droplet bouncing at the surface of a vibrating fluid bath could interact with its own wave field in such a way that it exhibits quantum-like behaviour. While these features were previously thought to be exclusive to the microscopic world, they can now be observed using this quantum analog system (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIyTZDHuarQ ). This computer-based project involves the analysis of bouncing droplets’ motion using coding and/or a tracking software.
Prof. John Saunders - Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics
- Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics
Dr Giovanni Sordi - Condensed Matter Theory, Computational Physics
- The Ising model: a gateway to phase transitions and critical phenomena
This is a project in theoretical and computational physics. The Ising model is the archetype of systems that exhibit a phase transition and has inspired generations of physicists. This theory project approaches the statistical mechanics and computational physics of the Ising model. This project requires a good understanding of statistical mechanics, and enthusiasm for mathematics and computation. Attending PH3210, PH3710, and a C++ course is strongly recommended.
- Numerical study of percolation on a square lattice
This is a computational physics project. Percolation is a central problem in statistical mechanics. This computational project explores numerical algorithms (Hoshen-Kopelman, Newman-Ziff) for studying site percolation on a square lattice. This is a challenging project, requiring a good understanding of statistical mechanics, and strong enthusiasm for mathematics and computation. Attending PH3210, PH3710, and a C++ course is strongly recommended.
Prof. Pedro Teixeira-Dias - Particle Physics, Computational Physics
- Time evolution of quantum-mechanical wave packets in 1D
The aim of this project is to write a computer program that calculates the time-evolution of a quantum-mechanical particle in one dimension, for different choices of potential. The student will use wave packets to describe a non-relativistic particle of non-zero mass m and momentum p. The program will be used to prepare snapshots of the probability density for the particle, as a function of time. Using the program the student will then demonstrate some of the following: dispersion of the wave packet, scattering at a potential step, tunnelling through a barrier, etc. This project builds on material from the 2nd year Quantum Mechanics course.
- Numerical simulation of a fission chain reaction in a nuclear pile
The aim of this project is to write a computer program to implement a numerical simulation of a fission chain reaction in a 2D nuclear pile. A real nuclear pile -- in order to be able to sustain a nuclear chain reaction with a steady release of energy -- must include different components: fissionable fuel, a neutron moderating material, and "control rods" for neutron absorption. A basic output of the program will be the energy released as a function of time. Once the program has been written the student will be able to use it as a tool to investigate: what are the conditions required for achieving a steady-state energy release; how the dimensions of the pile affect its energy output; how the density, or geometric configuration, of the pile components affects the performance of the pile, etc.
Both projects require writing a computer program from scratch. Therefore, computer-programming skills are a pre-requisite for both projects.
-- Pedro Teixeira Dias - 09 Nov 2022