Atomic and molecular physics research

The physical properties of atoms and molecules, underpin the nature of all matter and as such their study represents a fundamental discipline. The School has a number of research programs in this area.

The School partially hosts the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Atom Optics, and plays a leading role in the development of laser and magnetic cooling systems designed to create Bose Einstein condensates and atomic beams. RSPhysSE recently became one of only four groups in the world to achieve a BEC using excited metastable helium.

The School is a partial host to The ARC Centre of Excellence for Antimatter-Matter Studies whose experimental and theoretical program is based around the study of the interaction of positrons with matter. Anti-particles give a unique insight into the structure and properties of matter with applications in fundamental science, medicine and nanoscale materials. This work is complimented by a strong research effort in electron physics, especially electron momentum spectroscopy.

We also study ultra violet physics and problems of atmospheric, aeronomic and astrophysical significance, relating to the interaction of vacuum ultraviolet radiation with gaseous matter. Such studies are fundamental to understanding the distribution of ozone, and the behaviour of atmospheric pollutants. Quantum mechanical modelling of spectra is used to interpret photoabsorption spectroscopy measurements.

Potential student research projects

You could be doing your own research into atomic and molecular physics. Below are some examples of student physics research projects available in our school.

Electron and positron scattering from hydroxide, water and hydrogen peroxide

Electron and positron scattering processes are both complex and important in a range of processes. This project will use the R-Matrix technique to perform ab initio calculations of positron and electron scattering from OH, H2O and H2O2.

A/Prof. James Sullivan, Dr Edward Simpson

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

Mass-entangled ultracold helium atoms

This experimental project aims to create entangled states of ultracold helium atoms where the entanglement is between atoms of different mass. By manipulating the entangled pairs using laser induced Bragg transitions and measuring the resulting correlations, we will study how gravity affects mass-entangled particles.

Dr Sean Hodgman, Professor Andrew Truscott

Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy

Understanding material defects at the atomic scale using anitmatter.

Dr Joshua Machacek, Professor Stephen Buckman

Please browse our full list of available physics research projects to find a student research project that interests you.