List of PH3110 BSc Projects on offer in 2023/24
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 23/24. Each of the items (A, B, C, ...) listed under each supervisor's name is a separate project.
Prof. Vladimir Antonov - Nanophysics
- Observation and analysis of the dual Shapiro steps
In this project you will learn the theory behind the current quantization in a Josephson Junction, participate in experimental observation of the current quantization (dual Shapiro steps), and perform modelling of the experimental curves in Python.
- Physics and Technology of Terahertz Spectroscopy
You will carry experiments with the THZ laser and spectra and refractive index of different materials and meta-surfaces.
Dr Greg Ashton - Astrophysics – Priority given to BSc Astrophysics students
All three projects are computing-based projects and require the use of python. Students should have undertaken PH3010 and PH2150.
- Development of a table-top demonstration of a gravitational-wave detector
In this project you will develop a table-top demonstration of gravitational-wave localisation using a Raspberry Pi attached to water-level sensors. The goal is to use the sensors to identify disturbances and, in real-time, pinpoint the location. This will involve the development of the circuitry to measure the signal, and a program to infer the source position.
- 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. You will then go on to study how the methods can be applied to simulated signals to make predictions for the observability of beyond General Relativity physics in current and future detectors.
- Investigating the flickering of the Vela radio pulsar
Radio pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars which emit a beam of radiation. Jocelyn Bell first observed these in the 1960’s and we have since observed thousands. The Vela pulsar is a particularly interesting case as every few years in undergoes a ”glitch” in which the rotation frequency suddenly increases. You will study the pulse-profile variability of the Vela radio pulsar around a glitch to understand how variations in its profile can provide insights into the magnetospheric activity of the star during the glitch.
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.
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)
- Project 1 (data analysis, computational, signal processing, machine learning, Python): Processing and analysis of nanometre resolution particle beam position measurements using real data from an accelerator in Japan, work on novel methods of signal processing.
- Project 2 (computational, electromagnetic simulations, partial differential equations, Python): Testing our adaptions of high performance finite elements (FEM) partial differential equation (PDE) solvers (NGSolve, Elmer etc) to problems common in Accelerator Physics, creating example geometries using Python interfaces and comparing to known analytic solutions.
- Project 3 (hardware, hands-on, simulation, printed circuit board (PCB) design, radio frequency (RF) component design): Design of components and subsystems such as filters, couplers, dividers for GHz frequency electronics, simulations, PCB design and layout. In-house PCB prototyping and assembly. Potential contributions to: RF synthesizers, arbitrary waveform generators, control systems and signal processing electronics.
- 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 and Unix/Linux operating system is desirable, but not essential. The project will require programming in python; competence in python programming is a requirement.
- Option 1: Simulating LhARA, the Laser hybrid Accelerator for Radiobiological Applications
This project will investigate modelling of LhARA, a proposed radiobiology research facility. LhARA uses novel acceleration methods to generate beams of protons at 15 MeV, or ions such as carbon at 4 MeV/u. In stage 1 of LhARA, these beams are delivered to a radiobiology end station where they irradiate cells in vitro. In this project, you will model the end station setup in simulations, determine the maximum dose that LhARA can deliver, and subsequently parameterise the dosimetry for a range of irradiation scenarios. Techniques & methodologies learnt will be subsequently applied to the higher energy end station in stage 2 of LhARA for comparative dosimetry studies.
- Option 2: Modelling an Ion Therapy Accelerator
Delivering a therapeutic quality beam during proton/ion therapy requires performance considerations of 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 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 Pavel Karataev - Accelerator 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 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.
Dr Justyn Maund - Astrophysics – Priority given to BSc Astrophysics students
- The Shapes of Supernovae
Supernovae are the explosive deaths of certain types of stars. To probe the nature of the explosion we can look at their shapes, but all modern SNe are too distant to be imaged directly. In this project we will look at polarimetric observations of a SN to measure the degree of polarisation and infer the shape of the explosion. The project will use archival imaging data from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and will require knowledge of aperture photometry. All data analysis will be conducted using python.
Prof. Philip Meeson - Quantum Devices/Low Temperature Physics
Possible projects include:
- Extreme sensitivity motion detection system for a Cavendish-type gravity measurement: can we learn something from LIGO?
- Exploring the stability cone of a driven mechanical oscillator (as an analogue of non-linear effects in superconducting resonators)
(see, e.g. https://youtu.be/5oGYCxkgnHQ)
- A precision measurement system for gyroscopic motion, analysing the effects of precession, nutation, asymmetry and loss
- Developing vector calculus visualisation tools, python for div, grad, curl, the Helmholtz decomposition theorem, and all that
Projects A, B, C will require experimental design, construction (with the help of our technical staff), data acquisition, modelling and python data analysis. Project D is code-based.
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.
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.
Prof. Stephen West - Theoretical Particle Physics
- General Relativity: Particle Motion Near Black Holes
The project involves the calculation of the equations of motion of particles moving in the gravitational fields of black holes. It will analyse what happens when two particles collide as they fall into a black hole, in particular, we will investigate the centre of mass energy of the collision. The general relativity module (PH3910) is a co-requisite for this project.
-- Pedro Teixeira Dias - 14 Nov 2023