Materials science and engineering

The Research School of Physics undertakes a wide range of materials science research including:

Use of ion beams to modify both electrical physical properties of materials - especially semiconductors. The School has an 1.7MeV tandem accelerator dedicated to this purpose together with a number of smaller machines used for both modification of materials and diagnostic techniques such as RBS. This ion beam modification of semiconductors is complimented by a MOCVD growth program focusing on production of semiconductor optoelectronic devices such as quantum well lasers and detectors.

Design and development of advanced polymers and glasses for use in photonic devices such as all optical fibre amplifiers, nonlinear optical devices and planar wave-guides. The School has a laser direct write system for the production of prototype optical waveguide devices such as smart couplers. We also have facilities for production of optical fibre and a major program dedicated to novel fibre materials.

Interaction between materials occurs primarily at surfaces making the study of surface topology, physics and chemistry a priority area for the School. We also have several groups studying: interactions between solute particles, from molecules to proteins. Polymers in solution. Suspensions of colloidal particles. Such interactions determine the properties of most real world systems. Examples include self assembly of biomembranes, reactivity in biotechnologies and biochemistry, chemical synthesis, and a host of chemical engineering applications, from minerals processing, oil recovery to soil science and detergent formulation and drug delivery. In support of these activities we have several advanced diagnostic techniques such as ultra high-resolution computed tomography.

The School has a strong research effort in mechanochemistry: the use of physical impact to generate powders with unique physical properties especially on the nanoscale. Various processes techniques are being developed to create selective nanostructures in economically viable commercial quantities.

The School also has an active research program in ultra high speed laser ablation for both the modification of surfaces and the creation of exotic nanoscale ablation products such as ultra light carbon foams.

Potential student research projects

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

Spatial laser mode analysis for thermal noise measurements in optical cavities

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

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

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

High pressure creation of new forms of 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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

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

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