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

Biophysics

Understanding drought-resistance in Australian plants with 3D X-ray microscopy

This project will use unique, ANU-designed 3D X-ray microscopes and state-of-the art image analysis to track physiological responses of drought-tolerant Australian plants when subjected to water stress. The results will help us understand the mechanisms that underpin drought-tolerance, helping resolve ongoing debates and potentially improving the performance of dryland crops.

Prof Adrian Sheppard, Dr Levi Beeching, Dr Andrew Kingston

Specific ion effects

We are seeking students to perform fundamental research into how different ions exert influence in a myriad of systems.

Professor Vincent Craig

Clean Energy

Migration of carbon dioxide injected in aquifers: convection, diffusion and dissolution

Underground carbon sequestration looks essential if the world is going to keep global warming well below 2oC.  This project will explore the physics underlying migration of injected carbon dioxide, to better understand when it will dissolve and sink to the deep earth before there is any chance of it migrating upwards.

Prof Adrian Sheppard, Professor Vincent Craig

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

Wood-based mechanical metamaterials

The field of mechanical metamaterials is a fast-developing research domain, here the project aims at studying and developping wood-based and wood-inspired metamaterials.

Dr Nicolas Francois, Dr Mohammad Saadatfar, Professor Mark Knackstedt

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

Environmental Physics

Migration of carbon dioxide injected in aquifers: convection, diffusion and dissolution

Underground carbon sequestration looks essential if the world is going to keep global warming well below 2oC.  This project will explore the physics underlying migration of injected carbon dioxide, to better understand when it will dissolve and sink to the deep earth before there is any chance of it migrating upwards.

Prof Adrian Sheppard, Professor Vincent Craig

High pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems

The goal of this research is to study high pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems with applications to space, waste treatment and material science.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

Surface forces and the behaviour of colloidal systems

We measure the basic forces that operate between molecules that are manifest at interfaces. These forces control the stability of colloidal systems from blood to toothpaste. We use very sensitive techniques that are able to measure tiny forces with sub nanometer distance resolution. Understanding these forces enables us to predict how a huge variety of colloidal systems will behave.

Professor Vincent Craig

Nanobubbles

Nanobubbles are simply nanosized bubbles. What makes them interesting? Theory tells us they should dissolve in less than a second but they are in some cases stable for days.

Professor Vincent Craig

Fusion and Plasma Confinement

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

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

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

Materials Science and Engineering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

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

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

Specific ion effects

We are seeking students to perform fundamental research into how different ions exert influence in a myriad of systems.

Professor Vincent Craig

Surface forces and the behaviour of colloidal systems

We measure the basic forces that operate between molecules that are manifest at interfaces. These forces control the stability of colloidal systems from blood to toothpaste. We use very sensitive techniques that are able to measure tiny forces with sub nanometer distance resolution. Understanding these forces enables us to predict how a huge variety of colloidal systems will behave.

Professor Vincent Craig

Simulation of x-ray scattering from nano-objects

Develop and utilise computer simulations to analyse synchrotron based scattering from nano-sized objects.

Prof Patrick Kluth, Dr Christian Notthoff

Nanobubbles

Nanobubbles are simply nanosized bubbles. What makes them interesting? Theory tells us they should dissolve in less than a second but they are in some cases stable for days.

Professor Vincent Craig

Physics of Fluids

Understanding drought-resistance in Australian plants with 3D X-ray microscopy

This project will use unique, ANU-designed 3D X-ray microscopes and state-of-the art image analysis to track physiological responses of drought-tolerant Australian plants when subjected to water stress. The results will help us understand the mechanisms that underpin drought-tolerance, helping resolve ongoing debates and potentially improving the performance of dryland crops.

Prof Adrian Sheppard, Dr Levi Beeching, Dr Andrew Kingston

Plasma-liquid interactions

Plasma–liquid interactions are an important topic in the field of plasma science and technology. The interaction of non-equilibrium plasmas with a liquid have many important applications ranging from environmental remediation to material science and health care.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

Plasma Applications and Technology

Plasma-liquid interactions

Plasma–liquid interactions are an important topic in the field of plasma science and technology. The interaction of non-equilibrium plasmas with a liquid have many important applications ranging from environmental remediation to material science and health care.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

High pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems

The goal of this research is to study high pressure non-equilibrium plasma discharges in chemically reactive systems with applications to space, waste treatment and material science.

A/Prof Cormac Corr

Topological and Structural Science

Wood-based mechanical metamaterials

The field of mechanical metamaterials is a fast-developing research domain, here the project aims at studying and developping wood-based and wood-inspired metamaterials.

Dr Nicolas Francois, Dr Mohammad Saadatfar, Professor Mark Knackstedt

Simulation of x-ray scattering from nano-objects

Develop and utilise computer simulations to analyse synchrotron based scattering from nano-sized objects.

Prof Patrick Kluth, Dr Christian Notthoff

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