Engineering Inter-spacecraft laser links

Inter-satellite laser links are an emerging technology with applications in Earth Observation, telecommunications, security, and, the focus of the CGA space technology group. Inter-satellite laser ranging is an enabling technology to for geodesy/gravity recovery for global water or climate monitoring on Earth (NASA/Germany GRACE Follow-On mission), planetary science like NASA’s lunar GRAIL mission, and the same technology needed to detect the merging of super-massive black hole mergers (e.g. LISA mission).

A/Prof Kirk McKenzie, A/Prof. Andrew Sutton

Stochastic dynamics of interacting systems and integrability

There are many interesting physical statistical systems which never reach thermal equilibrium. Examples include surface growth, diffusion processes or traffic flow. In the absence of general theory of such systems a study of particular models plays a very important role. Integrable systems provide examples of such systems where one can analyze time dynamics using analytic methods.

Dr Vladimir Mangazeev

Machine learning for optics and controls

Optical cavities are widely used in physics and precision measurement.  This project will explore the use of modern machine learning methods for the control of suspended optical cavities.  

Dr Bram Slagmolen

Nuclear batteries: Energy-storage applications of nuclear isomers

Nuclear metastable states, known colloquially as isomers, have energy densities millions of times greater than chemical batteries. This project investigates nuclear pathways for reliably extracting this energy from candidate isotopes on demand. 

Dr AJ Mitchell, Professor Gregory Lane

Plasma Thrusters for Spacecraft

Low Earth Orbit satellites such as CubeSats can have their lifetime boosted by using our unique plasma thrusters to insert them into higher orbits. 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Vibration control for optical interferometry

Develop an active vibraiton isolation platform to provide a quiet, small displacement environment for high precision inteferometry.

Dr Bram Slagmolen, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Diagnosing plasma-surface interactions under fusion-relevant conditions

This project involves studying the complex plasma-surface interaction region of a fusion-relevant plasma environment through laser-based and spectroscopic techniques.

A/Prof Cormac Corr, Dr Matt Thompson

Quantum emitters in 2D materials

This project focuses on the integration of quantum emitters in 2D materials with photonic and optoelectronic platforms, enabling new applications in quantum communications and quantum information processing.

Dr Giovanni Guccione, Professor Ping Koy Lam

Migration of carbon dioxide injected in aquifers: convection, diffusion and dissolution

Underground carbon sequestration looks essential if the world is going to keep global warming below 2oC.  This project will explore the physics underlying migration of injected carbon dioxide, to better understand the conditions when it will dissolve and sink to the deep earth before there is any chance of it migrating upwards.

Prof Adrian Sheppard, Professor Vincent Craig

Optical nanoantennas

Antennas are at the heart of modern radio and microwave frequency communications technologies. They are the front-ends in satellites, cell-phones, laptops and other devices that make communication by sending and receiving radio waves. This project aims to design analog of optical nanoantennas for visible light for advanced optical communiction. 

Prof Dragomir Neshev, Dr Andrey Miroshnichenko

Interactions between Antimatter and Ultracold Atoms

Antiparticles and antimatter have progressed from theory and science fiction to become an important and exciting area of pure and applied science. This fundamental atomic physics project will investigate how antimatter and matter interact by experimentally studying the interaction of positrons (the electron anti-particle) with trapped ultracold rubidium atoms.

Dr Sean Hodgman, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

In space, no-one can hear you scream. Is this true?

Thrusters for propulsion generally require nozzles but is this necessary in the vaccum of space?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Optical metamaterials: from science fiction to transformative optical technologies

Experimental and theoretical work on the development of novel nanostructured materials with unusual optical properties. Special attention to our research is the development of tunable and functional nanostructured metamaterials that interact strongly with light. Such materials underpin novel optical technologies ranging from wearable sensors to night-vision devices.

Prof Dragomir Neshev, Dr Andrei Komar, Dr Mohsen Rahmani

Introduction to quantum integrable systems

The aim of this project is to introduce quantum integrable systems which play a very important role in modern theoretical physics. Such systems provide one of very few ways to analyze nonlinear effects in continuous and discrete quantum systems.

Dr Vladimir Mangazeev

Exploring physics with neural networks

Machine learning based on deep neural networks is a powerful method for improving the performance of experiments.  It may also be useful for finding new physics.

Dr Aaron Tranter, Professor Ben Buchler, Professor Ping Koy Lam

Exciton polaritons in 2D atomically thin materials

This experimental project will focus on nvestigation of strong light-matter coupling and exciton polaritons in novel atomically thin materials.

Prof Elena Ostrovskaya, Professor Andrew Truscott

Plasma-liquid interactions

Plasma–liquid interactions are an important topic in the field of plasma science and technology. The interaction of non-equilibrium plasmas with a liquid have many important applications ranging from environmental remediation to material science and health care.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

Higher-order spatial mode optical cavity analysis for thermal noise measurements

Gravitational wave detectors have reached the thermodynamic limit of optical coating performance and require novel coating materials and noise mitigation techniques for further sensitivity improvements. This project investigates the behaviour of higher order spatial laser modes in optical resonators for measuring coating thermal noise directly.

Dr Johannes Eichholz, Dr Bram Slagmolen, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Studies on the effect of He irradiation on the microstructure and mechanical properties of W/ W alloys

Nuclear fusion is a promising technology for solving the world’s energy crisis while drastically reducing pollution and avoiding the creation of nuclear waste, a major issue for nuclear fission. However, there are many scientific and technical challenges to be overcome before this technology can be used for large-scale energy generation. One of the problems that need to be solved is the tolerance of the diverter walls to the high temperatures and He implantation – conditions that are prevalent inside the fusion reactors.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

Gravitational waves from ultralight boson clouds around black holes

Ultralight boson particles have been predicted to solve problems in particle and high-energy physics and are compelling dark matter candidates. We develop algorithms and search for these conjectured ultralight bosons around black holes via gravitational-wave observations. 

Dr Lilli (Ling) Sun, Distinguished Profes Susan Scott, Dr Karl Wette

Motions of crystalline bar-joint frameworks

Periodic frameworks, viewed as simple mechanisms, can be rigid or display a variety of exotic deformation properties such as surface modes or expansive auxetic motion. This project will conduct a systematic search for frameworks with these properties. 

Dr Vanessa Robins

Measurement of optical and mechanical losses of mirror coatings

Gravitational wave detectors have reached the thermodynamic limit of optical coating performance and require novel coating materials and noise mitigation techniques for further sensitivity improvements. This project is to construct an experiment that measures oscillation amplitude decays of mechanical systems for determining key properties of optical coatings.

Dr Johannes Eichholz, Dr Bram Slagmolen, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Measuring and modelling free-ion hyperfine fields

Motivated by exciting prospects for measurements of the magnetism of rare isotopes produced by the new radioactive beam accelerators internationally, this experimental and computational project seeks to understand the enormous magnetic fields produced at the nucleus of highly charged ions by their atomic electron configuration.

Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Dr Tibor Kibedi, Mr Brendan McCormick

Synthetic multi-dimensional photonics

This project goal is to investigate, theoretically and experimentally, photonic systems with synthetic dimensionality exceeding the three spatial dimensions, and reveal new opportunities for applications in optical signal switching and sensing in classical and quantum photonics.

Prof Andrey Sukhorukov, Dr Jihua Zhang

Efficient optical interconnect for quantum computers

Superconducting and spin qubits are leading quantum computing technologies, but we currently have no way to connect them to optical quantum networks that will make up a future quantum internet. This project will develop an interconnect capable of efficiently converting microwave quantum information from these qubits to optical frequencies.

Dr Rose Ahlefeldt

System calculations for hunter killer satellites

Space junk is a major problem for space travel. We use an energetic particle beam to manoeuvre a satellite close to junk then blast it with the particle beam to deorbit the junk

Professor Roderick Boswell

Solid state synapses and neurons - memristive devices for neuromorphic computing

Interest in neuromorphic computing has led to interest in an excting new range of of solid-state neurons and synapses based on non-volatile resistive-switching and volatile threshold-switching in metal-oxide thin films.  This project explores the operation and functionality of these new devices with an emphasis on understanding the underlying mechanisms and materials physics.

Emeritus Professor Robert Elliman, Dr Sanjoy Nandi

Fundamental investigation of fission tracks for geo- and thermochronology

Study the formation and stability of high energy ion tracks in minerals under controlled environments with importance for geological dating techniques.

Prof Patrick Kluth

Optical Sensors for Inertial Navigation

This project develops fibre optic instruments based on optical interferometry and digital signal processing for the purpose of inertial navigation.

Prof Jong Chow, Dr Chathura Bandutunga , Dr Roland Fleddermann

Improving extraction of Critical Minerals 

The future global economy will be underpinned by technologies that depend on critical minerals such as such as lithium, nickel, copper and rare earth elements. In this project we will utilise unique 3D imaging and microscopic/spectroscopic tools to improve the characterisation and metallurgical processing of critical mineral systems.  

Professor Mark Knackstedt, Dr Nicolas Francois, Prof Adrian Sheppard

Micro-ring lasers for integrated silicon photonics

The project aims to investigate compound semiconductor micro-ring lasers on silicon substrates using selective area growth to engineer the shape of the lasing cavity at the nano/micro-scale. This project will open up new doors to the industry since an integrated laser which is reliable, efficient and easily manufacturable is still elusive in Si photonics.

Professor Hoe Tan, Professor Chennupati Jagadish

Colloidal systems in highly concentrated salt solutions

We are studying colloidal systems in highly concentrated salt solutions. Here a number of surprising and unexplained things happen that are associated with surprisingly long-ranged electrostatic forces

Professor Vincent Craig

Coherently combined laser systems for space technologies

Recent advances in laser technology now enable the combination of multiple high-quality lasers into a single high-power beam. This project aims to investigate such `coherently-combined' laser systems within the context of Earth-to-Space laser transmission. Applications of this technology include space debris tracking, free-space optical communications, and propulsion of light-sails for interstellar travel.

Dr Chathura Bandutunga , Mr Paul Sibley, Prof Jong Chow

Plasma surface interactions under extreme conditions

High power ion beams can be used to replace lasers as sources for evaporated coating material. Work with industry to discover the physics.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Making diamond from disordered forms of carbon

We have shown that glassy carbon is a fascinating material which has different properties depending on thow it was formed. The effect on how order and impurities influences the new phases formed under pressure is not understood.

Prof Jodie Bradby

Variational approach to many-body problems

In recent years there was a large boost in development of advanced variational methods which play an important role in analytic and numerical studies of  1D and 2D quantum spin systems. Such methods are based on the ideas coming from the renormalization group theory which states that  physical properties of  spin systems become scale invariant near criticality. One of the most powerful variational algorithms is the corner-transfer matrices (CTM) method which allows to predict properties of large systems based on a simple iterative algorithm.

Dr Vladimir Mangazeev

Nonreciprocal nanophotonics: disruptive nanotechnology to control light

This project combines theoretical and experimental research on novel approaches to control propagation of light in nonreciprocal ways, similar to ways we control directions of electric currents with semiconductor diodes and transistors. We aim to achieve a radical miniaturisation of nonreciprocal photonics to the nanoscale.

Dr Sergey Kruk

Radioactivity in our environment

Radionuclides such as 236U and 239Pu were introduced into the environment by the atmospheric nuclear weapon tests and an be readily measured by accelerator mass spectrometry.

Dr Michaela Froehlich

Active orbital control systems for nano-sats orbiting the Moon

Active plasma thrusters are needs for in orbit manouvers and for arranging constellations of satellites. 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Reducing Entropy in Lunar Supply Chains

It costs a lot to get material to the Moon. Can available materials on the Moon's surface be used? 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Metaphotonics and Mie-tronics with resonant dielectric structures

This project will address the recently emerged new platform for nanophotonics based on high-index dielectric nanoparticles that opened a whole new realm of all-dielectric Mie-resonant nanophotonics or Mie-tronics. High-index dielectric nanoparticles exhibit strong interaction with light due to the excitation of electric and magnetic dipolar Mie-type resonances.

Professor Yuri Kivshar, Dr Sergey Kruk, Mr Kirill Koshelev

Calibration of gravitational wave detectors

For gravitational-wave detections and analyses, the raw outputs from the gravitational-wave detectors need to be converted into analysable data through some calibration apparatus. This project investigates new techniques to improve calibration accuracy and precision and better integrate the calibration bias into astrophysical analyses. 

Dr Lilli (Ling) Sun, Dr Bram Slagmolen, Distinguished Profes Susan Scott

Electron scattering from surfaces at high energies

The project aims at establishing the possibilities of high-energy electron scattering in the analysis of thin layers. 

A/Prof Maarten Vos

X-ray speckle tracking

In this project the student will explore a cutting-edge "speckle tracking" method for measuring X-ray phase, in which computational image analysis is used to infer the X-ray phase from deformations in a known speckle pattern. This has both theoretical and experimental components.

Dr Glenn Myers, Dr Andrew Kingston

Simulation of x-ray scattering from nano-objects

Develop and utilise computer simulations to analyse synchrotron based scattering from nano-sized objects.

Prof Patrick Kluth, Dr Christian Notthoff

Nanowire infrared avalanche photodetectors towards single photon detection

This project aims to demonstrate semiconductor nanowire based infrared avalanche photodetectors (APDs) with ultra-high sensitivity towards single photon detection. By employing the advantages of their unique one-dimensional nanoscale geometry, the nanowire APDs can be engineered to different device architectures to achieve performance superior to their conventional counterparts. This will contribute to the development of next generation infrared photodetector technology enabling numerous emerging fields in modern transportation, communication, quantum computation and information processing.

Professor Lan Fu, Mr Yi Zhu, Professor Chennupati Jagadish

Particle simulation of dual frequency processing plasmas

We employ Particle in Cell simulations that are inexpensive true computer experiments to complement the use of costly industrial microchip plasma systems.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Multi-messenger gravitational-wave astronomy

The event of two merging neutron stars, GW170817, was observed in gravitational waves and across the electromagnetic spectrum, opening a new era of multi-messenger astronomy. We work on following up electromagnetic counterparts to future detections of gravitational waves and are ready to contribute to the new science of multi-messenger astronomy. 

Distinguished Profes Susan Scott, Dr Lilli (Ling) Sun, Dr Karl Wette

Mathematical making

Explore the geometry and symmetries of surfaces and other mathematical objects and explore their relevance in physical, chemical and biological contexts. 

Dr Vanessa Robins

Functional Nanopore Membranes

Nano-pore membranes have important applications in chemical- and bio-sensing, water filtration and protein separation. This project will investigate our innovative technology to fabricate nanopore membranes in silicon dioxide and silicon nitride and exploit their use for advanced applications.

Prof Patrick Kluth

Quantum multi-parameter estimation

Multi-parameter state estimation at the fundamental precision limit

Dr Syed Assad, Professor Ping Koy Lam, Mr Lorcan Conlon

Atomic magnetometer for exploring physics beyond the standard model

The Global Network of Optical Magnetometers for Exotic Physics (GNOME) uses precision atomic magnetometers to look new physics.  The concept is to have a global network of magnetometers looking for correlated magnetic field fluctuations that may be caused by strange, and unknown physics.

Professor Ben Buchler, Dr Geoff Campbell

Topological Crystallography: Graphs and surfaces with symmetry

What are the underlying geometric and topological properties of periodic structures that guarantee large and stable porosity in nano-porous crystalline materials required for gas storage and efficient catalysis?

Dr Vanessa Robins

Semiconductor nano-foams for sensor and energy applications

Investigate the fascinating porous structures of ion irradiated antimony based semiconductors and utlise them to built proptotype sensing devices or thermolectric generators.

Prof Patrick Kluth, Dr Christian Notthoff

Specific ion effects

We are seeking students to perform fundamental research into how different ions exert influence in a myriad of systems.

Professor Vincent Craig

Gravitational waves from newborn neutron stars

When two neutron stars collide, what is left behind? We develop methods and look for gravitational-wave signatures from the newborn remnant object after the collisions of binary neutron star systems.

Dr Lilli (Ling) Sun, Distinguished Profes Susan Scott, Dr Karl Wette

Nanofluidic diodes: from biosensors to water treatment

Controlling the flow of ions and molecules through nano-sized pores is fundamental in many biological processes and the basis for applications such as DNA detection, water desalination and drug delivery. The project aims to develop solid-state nanofluidic diodes and exploit their properties for applications in bio-sensors and ion-selective channels.

Prof Patrick Kluth

Beam matching using machine learning

This project aims to use a machine learning algorithm to perform beam alignment in an optics experiment. It would involve mode-matching two optical beams using motorised mirror mounts. Additional degrees of freedom like lens positions and beam polarisation can be added later.

Dr Syed Assad, Dr Aaron Tranter

Experimental quantum simulation with ultracold metastable Helium atoms in an optical lattice

This project will construct a 3D optical lattice apparatus for ultracold metastable Helium atoms, which will form an experimental quantum-simulator to investigate quantum many-body physics. A range of experiments will be performed such as studying higher order quantum correlations across the superfluid to Mott insulator phase transition.

Dr Sean Hodgman, Professor Andrew Truscott

Virtual Reality for Physics Education

We have developed Virtual Reality apps to enahnce learning in physics education. We have recent evidence of effectiveness in correcting misconceptions in Newtonian Physics with VR. Our other app in an Electric and Magnetic field simulator. Several opportunies exist for further studies on efficacy, as well as software development. 

Dr John Debs

Combinatorics and integrable systems

We will study links between integrable systems in statistical mechanics, combinatorial problems and special functions in mathematics. This area of research has attracted many scientist's attention during the last decade and revealed unexpected links to other areas of mathematics like enumeration problems and differential equations.

Dr Vladimir Mangazeev, Professor Vladimir Bazhanov

Metasurface polarization optics and quantum photonics

This project aims for developing polarization optical devices based on all-dielectric metasurfaces. As no bulky optical elements and moving parts are required, these devices are compact, stable, and can operate in a single-shot mode with high time resolution. Potential applications include sensitive biological imaging and quantum state manipulation and tomography. 

Dr Jihua Zhang, Prof Andrey Sukhorukov

Topological data analysis

A range of projects are available applying and developing the tools of topological data analysis. Data include 2D and 3D images, structural motifs in molecular-dynamics simulations, and porous materials. 

Dr Vanessa Robins

Neutron and X-ray imaging/tomography techniques at ANSTO and AS (Australian Synchrotron)

This project involves working with scientists from imaging beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron (IMBL, XFM, MCT) and the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor (DINGO) to develop multi-modal, multi-scale, and dynamic imaging and tomography techniques alongside computational imaging scientists from ANU.

Dr Andrew Kingston, Dr Glenn Myers

Quantum super resolution

When two point sources of light are close together, we just see one blurry patch. This project aims to use coherent measurement techniques in quantum optics to measure the separation between the point sources beyond the Rayleigh's limit.

Dr Syed Assad, Professor Ping Koy Lam

Computer simulation of expanding plasmas

Experimental work on expanding plasmas is greatly aided by computer simulation using plasma fluid codes. 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Optical quantum memory

An optical quantum memory will capture a pulse of light, store it and then controllably release it. This has to be done without ever knowing what you have stored, because a measurement will collapse the quantum state. We are exploring a "photon echo" process to achieve this goal.

Professor Ben Buchler

Deblur by defocus in a 3D X-ray microscope

This project will involve building a unified model of several theoretically-complex X-ray behaviours within the microscopes at the ANU CTLab, drawing from statistical and wave optics: spatial partial-coherence, refraction, and spectral interactions. The student will then apply this model to improve imaging capabilities at the ANU CTLab.

Dr Glenn Myers, Dr Andrew Kingston

Controlling the properties of 2D materials by defect engineering

This project investigates the structure and density of defects created in 2D materials by energetic ion irradiation, and their effect on the the physical properties of these materials.

Emeritus Professor Robert Elliman

Creating new superheavy elements

The discovery of new elements is of fundamental importance in progressing our society – new elements have contributed human history toward an affluent society. This project aims at proposing the best way to create new superheavy elements based on our studies, and at creating new superheavy elements with the best way. 

Dr Taiki Tanaka, Professor David Hinde, Professor Mahananda Dasgupta

Shape engineering of semiconductor nanostructures for novel device applications

This project aims to investigate the growth of III-V semiconductors on pre-patterned nanotemplates. By using different shapes and geometries, it is envisaged that these nanostructures will provide novel architectures for advanced, next generation optoelectronic devices.

Professor Hoe Tan, Professor Chennupati Jagadish

Non-equilibrium quantum condensation of microcavity exciton polaritons

This project combines theoretical and experimental research on exciton polaritons in semiconductor microcavities. We investigate emergent quantum phenomena far from equilibrium and their applications for next-generation optoelectronics devices.

Prof Elena Ostrovskaya, Professor Andrew Truscott

Ghost imaging in the third dimension

In ghost imaging, images are formed based on photons that have never interacted with the sample. 3D ghost imaging was first performed in 2018 by scientists at ANU and international collaborators at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility: the student will work with these scientists to further advance the field.

Dr Glenn Myers, Dr Andrew Kingston

Quantum photonics with nanostructured metasurfaces

Metasurface can the generation and manipulation of polarization-entangled photon pairs at the nanoscale.

Prof Andrey Sukhorukov


Nanobubbles are simply nanosized bubbles. What makes them interesting? Theory tells us they should dissolve in less than a second but they are in some cases stable for days.

Professor Vincent Craig

Machine learning for tomographic reconstruction

Machine learning (and in particular deep-learning) methods have been at the centre of amazing progress in the field of computational image analysis. In this project the student will work to develop machine-learning algorithms for tomographic reconstruction, and deploy these algorithms at the ANU CTLab imaging facility.

Dr Glenn Myers, Dr Andrew Kingston

Femtosecond laser for ultra-precise cavity drilling in modern dentistry

Development of efficient, versatile and fast laser femtosecond processes for advanced applications in modern dentistry promising a precise pain-free dental treatment for all patients.

Dr Ludovic Rapp

Design a rail gun to operate in vacuum producing a force of 1mN

Can electrical launch systems replace chemical systems in launching nano-satellites from the Moon?

Professor Roderick Boswell

High pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems

The goal of this research is to study high pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems with applications to space, waste treatment and material science.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

Tomography of dynamic processes (3D movies)

Generating 3D volumes, i.e., tomography, of an object as it changes over time  (or evolves) is a challenging problem. The ability to achieve this would reveal new information and understanding of many dynamic processes.

Dr Andrew Kingston, Prof Adrian Sheppard, Dr Glenn Myers

Exploring novel X-ray scanning trajectories

The first 3D X-ray microscopes used viewing angles evenly spaced in a full 360 degrees around the sample. Recent innovations have freed us from this constraint: the microscopes at the ANU CTLab can utilise ever stranger and more innovative scanning patterns. However, this new freedom is not well explored.

Dr Andrew Kingston, Dr Glenn Myers

Exotic nuclear structure towards the neutron dripline

Investigate the properties of exotic nuclei and their impact on fundamental models and creation of the elements when stars explode. 

Dr AJ Mitchell

Nanowire Photodetectors for Photonic and Quantum Systems

Semiconductor nanowires are emerging nano-materials with substantial opportunities for novel photonic and quantum device applications. This project aims at developing a new generation of high performance NW based photodetectors for a wide range of applications.

Professor Lan Fu, Dr Ziyuan Li, Professor Hoe Tan

Continuous gravitational waves from neutron stars

In this project, we develop data analysis methods and analyse the gravitational-wave data collected by ground-based detectors like Advanced LIGO and Virgo to look for weak gravitational radiation from spinning neutron stars.

Distinguished Profes Susan Scott, Dr Lilli (Ling) Sun, Dr Karl Wette

Can we make a harder-than-diamond diamond?

The hexagonal form of sp3 bonded carbon is predicted to be harder than 'normal' cubic diamond. We can make tiny amounts of this new form of diamond and want to know if it really is harder than diamond.

Prof Jodie Bradby

Renewable Chemical Fuels using III-V Semiconductors

This project aims to develop III-V semiconductors for applicaiton in solar fuels generation. 

Dr Siva Karuturi, Professor Chennupati Jagadish, Professor Hoe Tan

Surface forces and the behaviour of colloidal systems

We measure the basic forces that operate between molecules that are manifest at interfaces. These forces control the stability of colloidal systems from blood to toothpaste. We use very sensitive techniques that are able to measure tiny forces with sub nanometer distance resolution. Understanding these forces enables us to predict how a huge variety of colloidal systems will behave.

Professor Vincent Craig

Coherent control of quantum-mechanical systems

The project studies possibility of the coherent control (i.e. manipulating properties of a quantum system, such as charge density, levels populations, etc., using a suitably tailored laser pulse) for a quantum mechanical model of a molecule.

Professor Anatoli Kheifets

Space radiation modelling

Modelling space radiation environments to inform ground-based radiation testing at the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF).

Dr Ian Carter, Mr Ben Coombes

Positron applications in medical physics

This is a multi-faceted project which can be adapted to students at the honours level and above. A number of possibilities exist to perform experiments directed towards improving the use of positrons in medice, mostly focussed on Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

A/Prof. James Sullivan, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

How does a quantum system reach equilibrium?

The idea of equilibration is ubiquitous throughout nature. Out-of-equilibrium dynamics – be it caused by a disturbance and subsequent “rethermalisation”, or by passing through a phase transition – is a difficult question to characterise. This project looks at both equilibration and phase transitions in a Bose-Einstein condensate of metastable helium atoms.

Professor Andrew Truscott, Professor Kenneth Baldwin

Satellite based geodesy

Precise Earth gratitational field measurements with laser-ranging interferometry.

Dr Syed Assad, Professor Ping Koy Lam, Mr Lorcan Conlon

Benchmark positron scattering experiments

Using the atomic and molecular physics positron beam at the ANU, the student will undertake measurements of positron scattering from simple targets, providing high accuracy data to test recent theoretical calculations.

A/Prof. James Sullivan, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

Optical nonlinearities in 2D crystals

This project explores the nonlinear optical properties of ultrathin 2D crystals to develop highly entangled photon sources.

Dr Giovanni Guccione, Professor Ping Koy Lam

Field Deployable Laser Stabilisation using Digitally Enhanced Fibre Interferometers

Using an atomic clock and an optical frequency comb as diagnostics, this project investigates laser stabilisation using an optical fibre interferometer for field deployable applications such as in space-based instruments.

Prof Jong Chow, Dr Chathura Bandutunga

Magnetic nozzles and plasma generated by a remote source

When plasmas are decoupled from their source of power, much can be learned about non-local effects of energy transport.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Quantum squeezed states for interferometric gravitational-wave detectors

Using non-classical light states on laser interferometric gravitational-wave detectors, to further enhance the best length measurement devices in the world.

Distinguished Prof David McClelland, Professor Daniel Shaddock, Dr Bram Slagmolen

Low-noise offset-phase locking and heterodyne interferometry with 2µm-band lasers

Gravitational wave detectors have reached the thermodynamic limit of optical coating performance and require novel coating materials and noise mitigation techniques for further sensitivity improvements. This project is to implement a phase tracking system for the optical beat between two 2µm-band lasers for coating thermal noise measurements.

Dr Johannes Eichholz, Dr Bram Slagmolen, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Understanding drought-resistance in Australian plants with 3D X-ray microscopy

This project will use unique, ANU-designed 3D X-ray microscopes to directly observe the physiological responses of drought-tolerant Australian plants when subjected to water stress. The results will help us understand the mechanisms that underpin drought-tolerance, helping resolve ongoing debates and potentially improving the performance of dryland crops.

Prof Adrian Sheppard

Using materials physics to achieve ultra-low contact resistance for next generation semiconductor devices

Contact resistance is becoming a major limitation to device performance and new strategies are required to meet the needs of next-generation devices.  Existing contacts typically exploit the thermal and chemical stability of silicide/Si interfaces and take the form of a metal/silicide/Si heterostructure (e.g. W/TiN/TiSi2/Si), with the contact resistance dominated by the silicide/Si interface. The contact resistance of this interface is limited by the doping concentration in the Si substrate and the Schottky barrier height (SBH) of the heterojunction.  However, doping concentrations already exceed equilibrium solid solubility limits and further increases achieve only minor improvements.  Instead, any further reduction in contact resistivity relies on reducing the SBH.  This project will explore methods for controlling the SBH and develop device structures for measuring ultra-low contact resistivities.

Emeritus Professor Robert Elliman, Mr Tom Ratcliff

Laser levitation of a macroscopic mirror

This project aims to be the first in the world to use radiation pressure force of laser beams to levitate a macroscopic mirror. The coherence of this resonantly amplified scheme creates a unique opto-mechanical environment for precision quantum metrology and tests of new physics theories.

Dr Giovanni Guccione, Professor Ping Koy Lam

Determining the orbital characteristics of a constellation of nano-sats orbiting the Moon

There is no lunar GPS so how will satellite orbits be determined for safety and efficiency in designing missions.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Nanowire lasers for applications in nanophotonics

This project aims to investigate the concepts and strategies required to produce electrically injected semiconductor nanowire lasers by understanding light interaction in nanowires, designing appropriate structures to inject current, engineer the optical profile and developing nano-fabrication technologies. Electrically operated nanowire lasers would enable practical applications in nanophotonics.

Professor Chennupati Jagadish, Professor Hoe Tan

Topological photonics

This project will address significant problems of feasibility and tunability of novel photonic metadevices aiming to open novel possibilities for a control of light flows topologically protected against scattering losses, energy leaking, or imperfections. 

Professor Yuri Kivshar, Dr Sergey Kruk

Dual torsion pendulum for quantum noise limited sensing

Construct a small dual tosion pendulum which have their centre of mass co-incide and their rotational axis colinear. Inital diagnostics will be done using shadow sensors.

Dr Bram Slagmolen, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Ultrashort laser processing for advanced applications

Laser processing is a cutting-edge technique designed for to clean, texture, enhance surfaces in a way not possible with any other method. It is a non-contact process, which does not require the use of chemicals or abrasives, thus eliminating problems of chemical toxicity and corrosive residues.

Dr Ludovic Rapp, Professor Andrei Rode

Ultrafast Laser Cleaning - The Light Touch

Laser Cleaning is a cutting-edge technique designed for removal of contamination layers from solid surfaces by irradiating the surface with a laser beam. It is a non-contact process, which does not require the use of chemicals or abrasives, eliminating problems of chemical toxicity, corrosive residues, and erasure of surface structure. 

Dr Ludovic Rapp

Discovering quantum defects in diamond and related materials

This project aims to discover and study defects in diamond and related materials that are suitable for quantum technology.

Dr Marcus Doherty, Professor Neil Manson

Science education with meriSTEM

meriSTEM is an ANU initiative providing online learning resources and support to Australian senior secondary science teachers and students. We cater to senior physics, chemistry, biology, and Earth and environmental science.
The program is free and is made up of the video, worksheet, quiz and other contributions from many academics and students. We welcome everyone to be involved.
Undergrad research and internship projects offer students a chance to be a member of the meriSTEM team.

Mr Tim Friel, Professor Joseph Hope

Quantum microscopes for revolutionary interdisciplinary science

This project aims to invent and apply quantum microscopes to solve major problems across science.

Dr Marcus Doherty, Dr Liam McGuinness

Launching nano-satellites from the Earth's Moon

Generally chemical propulsion is used to launch satellites from the moon. Is it possible to use available resources instead?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Atomic ionization in super-strong laser fields

Using methods of quantum many-body theory to describe elementary processes in atoms and molecules interacting with strong electromagnetic fields.

Professor Anatoli Kheifets, Dr Igor Ivanov

X-ray scatter in 3D microscopes

X-ray scatter is most significant when imaging very dense/large samples: e.g. metal parts, large 3D printed components, or samples imaged on the CTLab's new "whole core" scanner. The student will develop methods to correct for its effects, both in-hardware (i.e. at the microscope) and in-software (i.e. image analysis).

Dr Andrew Kingston, Dr Glenn Myers

Creating new materials using pressure and diamond anvil cells

New forms of materials can be made using extreme pressures via diamond anvil cells.

Prof Jodie Bradby

Attosecond time-resolved atomic reactions

We apply the most advanced quantum-mechanical modeling to resolve electron motion in atoms and molecules on the atto-second (one quintillionth of a second) time scale.  Our theoretical modeling, based on a rigorous, quantitative description of correlated electron dynamics, provides insight into new physics taking place on the atomic time scale.

Professor Anatoli Kheifets, Dr Igor Ivanov

High-bandwidth stabilisation of a 2µm-band laser

Gravitational wave detectors have reached the thermodynamic limit of optical coating performance and require novel coating materials and coating noise suppression techniques for further sensitivity improvements. This project is to design a high-bandwidth feedback control system to stabilise the intensity and frequency of a 2µm-band laser for investigations of thermal noise in experimental mirror coatings.

Dr Johannes Eichholz, Dr Bram Slagmolen, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Diamond quantum computing and communications

This project aims to engineer diamond quantum computers and communication networks.

Dr Marcus Doherty

Nano-bubble formation in fusion relevant materials

Fusion energy promises millions of years of clean energy, but puts extreme stress on materials. This research will resolve scientific issues surrounding plasma-material interactions to guide and facilitate development of future advanced materials for fusion reactors.

A/Prof Cormac Corr, Prof Patrick Kluth, Dr Matt Thompson

Updated:  2 December 2021/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster