Potential student research projects

The Research School of Physics performs research at the cutting edge of a wide range of disciplines.

By undertaking your own research project at ANU you could open up an exciting career in science.

Filter projects

Some other physics related research projects may be found at the ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Mathematical Sciences Institute and the Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Materials Science and Engineering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High-bandwidth stabilisation of a 2┬Ám-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

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

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

Developing wearable sensors for personalized health care technologies and solutions

This is a multidisciplinary project supported by the ANU Grand Challenge project ‘Our Health in Our Hands’ (OHIOH), aimed at developing wearable sensors for detecting target biomarkers to identify certain health conditions.

Dr Buddini Karawdeniya, Prof Dragomir Neshev, Prof Patrick Kluth, Professor Lan Fu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated:  27 November 2021/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster