Potential student research projects

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

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

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Theoretical Physics

Lie algebras in particle physics

A reading course on the connections between the representation theory of Lie groups and the properties of fundamental particles within quantum field theory, using Howard Georgi's "Lie Groups in Particle Physics: from Isospin to Unified Theories".

Mr Hong An Le, Dr Cédric Simenel

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

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 Cédric Simenel, Dr Edward Simpson

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

Intelligent 3D X-ray imaging, for improved analysis of complex 3D images.

This project will develop new methods for "intelligent" processing of 3D X-ray data (i.e. methods which use a priori information). These new methods will double as a non-traditional approach to automated image analysis; the project will compare this new approach with more traditional methods.

Dr Glenn Myers, Dr Andrew Kingston, Prof Adrian Sheppard

Causality vs free will in quantum correlations

The strong correlations between entangled quantum systems can be explained only by giving up one of determinism, relativistic locality, or experimental free will. In the latter case, the choice of experimental settings is statistically dependent on hidden system variables. This project examines information properties of such a dependence.

Dr Michael Hall

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

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

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

Nuclear magnetism - magnetic moment measurements

A novel technique devised at ANU has recently given a breakthrough in the precision with which the magnetic moments of picosecond-lived excited states in sd-shell nuclei (i.e. isotopes of oxygen through to calcium) may be measured. A sequence of precise measurements will be performed to comprehensively test the shell model.

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

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

Quantum coherence and metrology

A quantum state has "coherence" if it is in a superposition of some classical states. In some way, coherence measures the quantumness of that state. We aim to study the coherence of simple systems and also establish a relationship between coherence and quantum metrology.

Dr Syed Assad, Professor Ping Koy Lam

New trends in separation of variables

A separation of variables is a standard technique in classical mechanics which allows to reduce a complicated dynamics with many degrees of freedom to a set of one-dimensional problems. Surprisingly this method finds its natural generalization in the theory of quantum integrable systems. This project aims to study such systems and apply results to the theory of special functions in one and several variables.

Dr Vladimir Mangazeev

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

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

Compression of 3D X-ray imaging data

The CT lab hosts several 3D X-ray imaging systems, each generating ~240GB/day of data. The student will: (i) explore various data compression schemes; (ii) theoretically and empirically analyse interactions between data compression, X-ray image processing, and 3D analysis; (iii) develop new 3D imaging methods, based on successful data compression schemes

Dr Glenn Myers, Dr Andrew Kingston, Prof Adrian Sheppard

High-density artifact correction in x-ray micro-tomography

High-density objects in specimens of interest (e.g., metal-pins in biological specimens), can cause significant quality degradation of 3D images produced at our micro-tomography facility. This project explores/compares techniques in hardware to avoid the problem and techniques in software to correct for the problems caused by these objects.

Dr Andrew Kingston, Dr Glenn Myers, Prof Adrian Sheppard

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

Multi-spectral x-ray micro-tomography

The ANU X-ray micro-tomography facility images over a broad spectrum (or range) of X-ray energies. The behaviour of specimens of interest at different X-ray energies can tell us a lot about its composition. This project will explore 1) techniques to image specimens at various X-ray spectral-bands, and 2) methods to analyse the results.

Dr Andrew Kingston, Dr Glenn Myers, Prof Adrian Sheppard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum Squeezing Atomic Ensembles

The aim of this project is to explore theoretically the application of quantum squeezing to a variety of quantum sensors and to incorporate optimal quantum squeezing into the design quantum gravimeters and quantum magnetometers.

Professor John Close, Dr Stuart Szigeti

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

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 Cédric Simenel

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 Cédric Simenel

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 Cédric Simenel

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 Wavelets

In this project, we represent an expanding quantum wavepacket in a wavelet basis and use the representation to analyse new data from a state of the art quantum gravity sensor.

Professor John Close, Dr Stuart Szigeti

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

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

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

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

Updated:  29 April 2019/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster