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

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

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

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

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

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

Measurement of optical and mechanical losses of mirror coatings

Gravitational wave detectors have reached the thermodynamic limit of optical coatings. Further sensitivity improvements require new coating materials and noise mitigation techniques. This project is about designing an experiment to measure the exponential decay of mechanical oscillator modes for determining key properties of optical coatings.

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

Positron interactions with structured surfaces

We are investigating novel effects and applications using positrons and structured surfaces.

Dr Joshua Machacek, Dr Sergey Kruk

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

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

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

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

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

Can we make a new phase of carbon?

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

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

Quantitative x-ray imaging with patterned illumination

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

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

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

Defect Engineering of 2D Materials

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

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

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, Prof Adrian Sheppard

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

High entropy alloys in advanced nuclear applications

The challenging operating environments of advanced nuclear fission and fusion reactors require the development of new robust materials. These new materials must survive increased physical, chemical, thermal, and radiation-related challenges. High-entropy alloys (HEAs) have displayed notable mechanical, thermomechanical, and corrosion-resistant properties.

A/Prof Cormac Corr, Dr Maryna Bilokur

Ultra-low contact resistance 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

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

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

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

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

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, 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

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

Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy

Understanding material defects at the atomic scale using anitmatter.

Dr Joshua Machacek, Professor Stephen Buckman

Neutron and X-ray imaging/tomography techniques at ANSTO & 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