List of PH3110 BSc Projects on offer in 2021/22

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 21/22. Each of the items (A, B, C, ...) listed under each supervisor's name is a separate project.

Prof. Vladimir Antonov - Nanophysics

  1. Physics and Technology Related to Terahertz Spectroscopy and the Refractive Index of Teflon
  2. The Operation of a Single Electron Transistor

Prof. Oleg Astafiev - Nanophysics

  1. Superconducting Artificial Atoms

Dr Tracey Berry - Particle Physics

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics

Prof. Glen Cowan - Astrophysics Projects Reserved for BSc Astrophysics students

  1. 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.
  2. 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).

Dr Stephen Gibson - Accelerator Physics

  1. Simulations of laser particle beam interactions for medical and other applications
    Non-invasive laserwire diagnostics to measure the properties of relativistic particle beams have been developed in recent years at the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science at Royal Holloway, and demonstrated at Linac4, the new injector for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Software tools have been developed to simulate the interaction of the laser with the hydrogen ion beam and calculate the yield of neutralised particles. This project will extend the existing simulations to study novel diagnostics methods and/or the possibility of using a laser to generate and control a particle beam for medical and other applications. Some experience in python / C++ code would be useful and / or would be gained throughout the project.

Prof. Jon Goff - Condensed Matter Physics

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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 a small number of spin-1/2s coupled with neighbours via an exchange coupling. The questions to be addressed can involve one or more of: 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).
  2. 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 least for the first wave) 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

  1. Quantum dynamics of interacting fermions
    This project aims at simulating numerically the quantum dynamics of a system of strongly interacting fermions, in order to study the new dynamical states of matter which have been observed in recent experiments. The project is both theoretical and computer based. The student will become familiar with the numerical technique of exact diagonalization and matrix manipulation in python.

Dr Pavel Karataev - Particle Physics

  1. Advanced simulations of electromagnetic processes in condensed media at ultra-relativistic energies
  2. Design and experimental test of efficient electromagnetic materials (complex structures and metamaterials) for applications in charged particle accelerators
  3. Development of a miniature pyroelectric accelerator

Dr Asher Kaboth - Particle Physics

  1. An investigation into producing a uniform image with a CCD camera using an LED calibrator

Dr Nikolas Kauer - Theoretical Particle Physics

  1. 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. Philip Meeson - Quantum Devices/Low Temperature Physics

Possible projects include:

  1. Extreme sensitivity motion detection system for a Cavendish-type gravity measurement: can we learn something from LIGO?
  2. Exploring the stability cone of a driven mechanical oscillator (as an analogue of non-linear effects in superconducting resonators)
    (see, e.g.
  3. A precision measurement system for gyroscopic motion, analysing the effects of precession, nutation, asymmetry and loss
  4. 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.

Prof. Jocelyn Monroe - Particle Physics / Particle Astrophysics

  1. Measurement of Lead in Drinking Water using Particle Astrophysics Technology
    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 is lab-based, and will involve measurements of trace levels of radioactivity from lead in the RHUL Dark Matter Lab. There is more information about the project here:
  2. 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.

Dr James Nicholls - Nanophysics

  1. 1D Ballistic Wires
    Model the electrical and thermal transport properties of a one-dimensional ballistic device, starting from the transmission probability T(E) and Fermi functions which are functions of energy and temperature. Python will be used to numerically calculate the electrical conductance, thermopower, and thermal conductance, from the integrals described in van Houten et al. [Semicond. Sci. Technol. 7, B215 (1992)]. This project builds on material in 2nd year Solid State Physics.
  2. 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 MATLAB, which is a standard programming package (College has a license), and will be applicable to experimental studies of 2D electron gases in semiconductors and graphene. This project builds on material introduced in 2nd year Electromagnetism and Solid State Physics.

Dr Philipp Niklowitz - Condensed Matter Physics

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Hydrodynamic Quantum Analogy
    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 ). The project will involve building a low-cost apparatus to realise this experiment and find the regime of parameters where quantum-like features can be observed. The student will learn problem solving and data analysis skills.

Prof. John Saunders - Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics

  1. Condensed Matter / Low Temperature Physics

Dr Giovanni Sordi - Condensed Matter Theory, Computational Physics

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Jun 2021

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Topic revision: r10 - 09 Jun 2021 - PedroTeixeiraDias

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