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

Theoretical Physics

Localised formations in open systems

Dissipative solitons are generated due to the balance between gain and loss of energy as well as to the balance between input and output of matter. Their existence requires continuous supply of energy and matter that is available in open systems. The model explains variety of phanomena in biology and physics.

Professor Nail Akhmediev, Dr Adrian Ankiewicz, Dr Natasha Devine, Dr. Wonkeun Chang

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

High energy scattering in gauge and string theories

It appears that the scattering amplitudes in Quantum Chromodynamics (theory of strong interactions) can be exactly calculated in certain limiting cases (e.g. in the so-called multi-Redge kinematics). This is possible due to remarkable connections of this problem to the theory of integrable systems based on the Yang-Baxter equation. 

Professor Vladimir Bazhanov

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, Professor Stephen Hyde, Dr Olaf Delgado-Friedrichs

Mathematical Aspects of Conformal Field Theory

Conformal Field Theory (CFT) in two-dimensions describes physics of the second order transitions in statistical mechanics and also plays important role in string theory, which is expected to unify the theory of strong interaction with quantum gravity. The project aims to explore and further develop mathematical techniques of CFT.  

Professor Vladimir Bazhanov, Dr Vladimir Mangazeev

Nuclear models in nuclear structure and reactions

Nuclei are complex quantum systems and thus require advanced modelling to understand their structure properties. This project uses such models to interpret experimental data taken at the ANU and at overseas nuclear facilities.

Dr Edward Simpson, Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Dr Cedric Simenel

Exact Bohr-Sommerfeld quantisation and Conformal Field Theory

It is well known that the quasiclassical quantisation of the harmonic oscillator leads to its exact quantum mechanical spectrum. Remarkably, this result can be generalized to various anharmonic systems via mysterious connections to Conformal Field Theory.

Professor Vladimir Bazhanov

Instability dynamics in superfluid mixtures

This project will theoretically model instability dynamics generated at the interface between two superfluids. This is an opportunity for a student to be involved in a theory project that will drive current experiments in the atom laser and sensors group. 

Dr Angela White, Dr Nicholas 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

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

Theory of nuclear fission

Heavy atomic nuclei may fission in lighter fragments, releasing a large amount of energy which is used in reactors. Advanced models of many-body quantum dynamics are developed and used to describe this process.

Dr Cedric Simenel, Dr Remi Bernard

Nuclear magnetism - magnetic moment measurements

This project builds on our established track record of developing novel methods to measure magnetic moments of picosecond-lived excited states in atomic nuclei, and the theoretical interpretation of those measurements. Students will help establish new methodologies to underpin future international research at the world's leading radioactive beam laboratories.

Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Dr Tibor Kibedi, Professor Gregory Lane, Mr Brendan McCormick

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

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

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

Nucleons on a sphere

Quantum chemists have recently found exact solutions to the Schrödinger equation for n electrons on the surface of a sphere. The project is to extend this model to finite range attraction such as those between nucleons in atomic nuclei. 

Dr Cedric Simenel

Nuclear fusion and sub-zeptosecond breakup reactions

Fusion probabilities at high energies are significantly smaller than theoretical predicted, in part due to disintegration of the projectile nucleus into lighter nuclei (breakup) on timescales faster than 10-21 s. This project will help us understand these fast, complex breakup processes and their influence on fusion.

Dr Edward Simpson, Professor Mahananda Dasgupta

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

Latest challenges in nuclear fission theory

This project aims to study nuclear fission in both analytical and numerical ways to understand the mechanisms responsible for the diversified and astonishing fission properties in the actinide and sub-lead regions.

Dr Remi Bernard, Dr Cedric Simenel

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

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

New connections between classical and quantum field theories

The standard correspondence principle implies that quantum theory reduces to classical theory in the limit of the vanishing Planck constant. This project is devoted to a new type connection between quantum and classical systems which holds for arbitrary finite values of the Planch constant.

Professor Vladimir Bazhanov

String theory and integrable systems

This project aims to develop and employ the full power of the theory of integrable quantum systems to new models of quantum many-body spin systems in string theory.

Professor Vladimir Bazhanov

Chaotic vortex dynamics in superfluids

This project aims to shed light on a fundamental physics question, what is the role of chaotic events in turbulent flows?

Dr Angela White

Quantum tunnelling in many-body systems

Quantum tunnelling is a fundamental process in physics. How this process occurs with composite (many-body) systems, and in particular how it relates to decoherence and dissipation, are still open questions.

Dr Cedric Simenel, Dr Edward Simpson, Dr Remi Bernard

Extreme events in nature and in a laboratory

The concept of rogue waves was born in nautical mythology, entered the science of ocean waves and gradually moved into other fields: optics, matter waves, superfluidity. This project will allow students to enter the front edge of modern science.

Professor Nail Akhmediev, Dr Adrian Ankiewicz, Dr. Wonkeun Chang, Dr Natasha Devine

Creating quantum entanglement for improving measurements of gravity

This theoretical project will investigate and theoretically model how to create quantum entanglement within a Bose-Einstein condensate, with the motivation of improving the sensitvity of atom-interferometers used to measure gravitational fields. 

Dr Simon Haine, Professor Joseph Hope

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

Soft Condensed Matter: Molecules made by Threading

Of great recent interest is the subject of rotaxanes.  Rotaxanes are molecules  where one or more ring
components is threaded onto an axle that is capped on both ends with stoppers to prevent the rings from
falling o ff. These systems exhibit complex and fascinating physics.

Professor David Williams

Low-energy tests of the signatures of quantum gravity

This project will investigate the potential of various experimental platforms to search for effects of quantum gravity.

Dr Simon Haine

Updated:  23 July 2020/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster