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

Astrophysics

Optimising a neutron star extreme matter observatory

Following a practical introduction to optical interferometry for gravitational wave detectors and simulation tools, this project will model the optical configuration to optimize detector performance against a number of possible predictions of the neutron star equation of state.

Dr Bram Slagmolen, Dr Lilli (Ling) Sun, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Interactions between antimatter and ultracold atoms

Antiparticles and antimatter have progressed from theory and science fiction to become an important and exciting area of pure and applied science. This fundamental atomic physics project will investigate how antimatter and matter interact by experimentally studying the interaction of positrons (the electron anti-particle) with trapped ultracold rubidium atoms.

Dr Sean Hodgman, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

Microfabricated quantum ring atomic-gyroscope

In this project we investigate, through analytic calculation and simulation, the design and performance limits of a microfabricated quantum-ring atom gyroscope. This is a new design that builds on the quantum vortex gyroscope under development at ANU.

Professor John Close, Dr Samuel Legge, Prof Patrick Kluth

Clean Energy

Improving extraction of Critical Minerals 

The future global economy will be underpinned by technologies that depend on critical minerals such as such as lithium, nickel, copper and rare earth elements. In this project we will utilise unique 3D imaging and microscopic/spectroscopic tools to improve the characterisation and metallurgical processing of critical mineral systems.  

Professor Mark Knackstedt, Dr Nicolas Francois, Prof Adrian Sheppard

Engineering in Physics

Improving extraction of Critical Minerals 

The future global economy will be underpinned by technologies that depend on critical minerals such as such as lithium, nickel, copper and rare earth elements. In this project we will utilise unique 3D imaging and microscopic/spectroscopic tools to improve the characterisation and metallurgical processing of critical mineral systems.  

Professor Mark Knackstedt, Dr Nicolas Francois, Prof Adrian Sheppard

Miniature absolute gravimeter for long-term gravity surveys

Absolute gravimeters tie their measurement of gravity to the definition of the second 
by interrogating the position of a falling test mass using a laser interferometer. Our vision is to develop and prototype a miniaturised absolute gravimeter by 
leveraging modern vacuum, laser, and micro-electromechanical systems.

Dr Samuel Legge, Professor John Close, Prof Patrick Kluth, Dr Giovanni Guccione

Optimising a neutron star extreme matter observatory

Following a practical introduction to optical interferometry for gravitational wave detectors and simulation tools, this project will model the optical configuration to optimize detector performance against a number of possible predictions of the neutron star equation of state.

Dr Bram Slagmolen, Dr Lilli (Ling) Sun, Distinguished Prof David McClelland

Environmental Physics

Radioactivity in our environment

Radionuclides such as 236U and 239Pu were introduced into the environment by the atmospheric nuclear weapon tests and an be readily measured by accelerator mass spectrometry.

Dr Michaela Froehlich

Quantum gravimtery for ground water mapping and subsurface planetary structure mapping

Through field measurements of local gravity, local subterranean mass density variations comined with mathematical inversion can be mapped. Through field measurments and analysis we will develop this new technique and investigate its application to ground water mapping on Earth and subsurface structure studies on the Moon and Mars.

Professor John Close, Dr Samuel Legge

Materials Science and Engineering

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

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

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

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

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Nanowire lasers for applications in nanophotonics

This project aims to investigate the concepts and strategies required to produce electrically injected semiconductor nanowire lasers by understanding light interaction in nanowires, designing appropriate structures to inject current, engineer the optical profile and developing nano-fabrication technologies. Electrically operated nanowire lasers would enable practical applications in nanophotonics.

Professor Chennupati Jagadish, Professor Hoe Tan

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

Micro-ring lasers for integrated silicon photonics

The project aims to investigate compound semiconductor micro-ring lasers on silicon substrates using selective area growth to engineer the shape of the lasing cavity at the nano/micro-scale. This project will open up new doors to the industry since an integrated laser which is reliable, efficient and easily manufacturable is still elusive in Si photonics.

Professor Hoe Tan, Professor Chennupati Jagadish

Quantum-well nanowire light emitting devices

In this project we aim to design and demonstrate  III-V compound semiconductor based quantum well nanowire light emitting devices with wavelength ranging from 1.3 to 1.6 μm for optical communication applications.

Professor Lan Fu, Dr Ziyuan Li, Professor Hoe Tan, Professor Chennupati Jagadish

Photonics, Lasers and Nonlinear Optics

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

Nanowire lasers for applications in nanophotonics

This project aims to investigate the concepts and strategies required to produce electrically injected semiconductor nanowire lasers by understanding light interaction in nanowires, designing appropriate structures to inject current, engineer the optical profile and developing nano-fabrication technologies. Electrically operated nanowire lasers would enable practical applications in nanophotonics.

Professor Chennupati Jagadish, Professor Hoe Tan

Machine learning for optics and controls

Optical cavities are widely used in physics and precision measurement.  This project will explore the use of modern machine learning methods for the control of suspended optical cavities.  

Dr Bram Slagmolen

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

Low-noise offset-phase locking and heterodyne interferometry with 2µm-band lasers

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 implement a phase tracking system for the optical beat between two 2µm-band lasers for coating thermal noise measurements.

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

Micro-ring lasers for integrated silicon photonics

The project aims to investigate compound semiconductor micro-ring lasers on silicon substrates using selective area growth to engineer the shape of the lasing cavity at the nano/micro-scale. This project will open up new doors to the industry since an integrated laser which is reliable, efficient and easily manufacturable is still elusive in Si photonics.

Professor Hoe Tan, Professor Chennupati Jagadish

Quantum-well nanowire light emitting devices

In this project we aim to design and demonstrate  III-V compound semiconductor based quantum well nanowire light emitting devices with wavelength ranging from 1.3 to 1.6 μm for optical communication applications.

Professor Lan Fu, Dr Ziyuan Li, Professor Hoe Tan, Professor Chennupati Jagadish

Physics Education

Science education with meriSTEM

meriSTEM is an ANU initiative providing online learning resources and support to Australian senior secondary science teachers and students. We cater to senior physics, chemistry, biology, and Earth and environmental science.
The program is free and is made up of the video, worksheet, quiz and other contributions from many academics and students. We welcome everyone to be involved.
Undergrad research and internship projects offer students a chance to be a member of the meriSTEM team.

Mr Suren Mendis, Professor Joseph Hope

Physics of the Nucleus

Nuclei that fall apart: the role of sub-zeptosecond processes in reactions of weakly-bound nuclei

Some nuclei, like stable 6,7Li and 9Be or radioactive 8Li and 6He, are weakly-bound, which gives them a cluster structure which can be broken apart with very little input of energy. These nuclei show a huge variety of behaviors which challenge our understanding of nuclear reactions, requiring experimental measurements. 

Dr Kaitlin Cook, Professor Mahananda Dasgupta, Professor David Hinde

Quantum Science and Technology

Beam matching using machine learning

This project aims to use a machine learning algorithm to perform beam alignment in an optics experiment. It would involve mode-matching two optical beams using motorised mirror mounts. Additional degrees of freedom like lens positions and beam polarisation can be added later.

Dr Syed Assad, Dr Aaron Tranter

Miniature absolute gravimeter for long-term gravity surveys

Absolute gravimeters tie their measurement of gravity to the definition of the second 
by interrogating the position of a falling test mass using a laser interferometer. Our vision is to develop and prototype a miniaturised absolute gravimeter by 
leveraging modern vacuum, laser, and micro-electromechanical systems.

Dr Samuel Legge, Professor John Close, Prof Patrick Kluth, Dr Giovanni Guccione

Interactions between antimatter and ultracold atoms

Antiparticles and antimatter have progressed from theory and science fiction to become an important and exciting area of pure and applied science. This fundamental atomic physics project will investigate how antimatter and matter interact by experimentally studying the interaction of positrons (the electron anti-particle) with trapped ultracold rubidium atoms.

Dr Sean Hodgman, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

Quantum gravimtery for ground water mapping and subsurface planetary structure mapping

Through field measurements of local gravity, local subterranean mass density variations comined with mathematical inversion can be mapped. Through field measurments and analysis we will develop this new technique and investigate its application to ground water mapping on Earth and subsurface structure studies on the Moon and Mars.

Professor John Close, Dr Samuel Legge

Microfabricated quantum ring atomic-gyroscope

In this project we investigate, through analytic calculation and simulation, the design and performance limits of a microfabricated quantum-ring atom gyroscope. This is a new design that builds on the quantum vortex gyroscope under development at ANU.

Professor John Close, Dr Samuel Legge, Prof Patrick Kluth

Updated:  16 August 2022/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster