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

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

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 helping understand which forest eco-systems that are most vulnerable to climate change, and why.

Prof Adrian Sheppard, Dr Levi Beeching, Dr Andrew Kingston

Solid-state nanopore sensors: Unveiling New Frontiers in Biomolecule Detection

Investigate novel nanopore bio-sensors using nanofabrication, bio-chemsity and machine learning.

Prof Patrick Kluth

Clean Energy

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

Creation of novel hybrid boron nitride materials

This project focussed on the creation of novel hybrid boron nitride materials by utilizing advanced green techniques of mechanochemistry and high-pressure methods. 

Prof Jodie Bradby

Engineering in Physics

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

High pressure creation of new forms of diamond

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

Creation of novel hybrid boron nitride materials

This project focussed on the creation of novel hybrid boron nitride materials by utilizing advanced green techniques of mechanochemistry and high-pressure methods. 

Prof Jodie Bradby

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

Environmental Physics

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

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

Fusion and Plasma Confinement

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, Dr Matt Thompson

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

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

Materials Science and Engineering

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

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

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, 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

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

Solving the problem of how to measure a material harder than diamond

In experiments, measuring the hardness of a very hard material is fundamentally challenging. We aim to study the physical mechanics behind nanoindentation measurements to help better measure superhard materials.

Ms Xingshuo Huang, Prof Jodie Bradby

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

High pressure creation of new forms of diamond

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

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

GeSn defect properties measured by nanoindentation

To understand defects in metal-semiconductor alloys, specifically GeSn in this project, to help making better alloy films and devices.

Ms Xingshuo Huang, Prof Jodie Bradby, Emeritus Professor Jim Williams

Creation of novel hybrid boron nitride materials

This project focussed on the creation of novel hybrid boron nitride materials by utilizing advanced green techniques of mechanochemistry and high-pressure methods. 

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

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

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

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

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

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

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

High pressure creation of new forms of diamond

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, Ms Xingshuo Huang

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

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

Solid-state nanopore sensors: Unveiling New Frontiers in Biomolecule Detection

Investigate novel nanopore bio-sensors using nanofabrication, bio-chemsity and machine learning.

Prof Patrick Kluth

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 helping understand which forest eco-systems that are most vulnerable to climate change, and why.

Prof Adrian Sheppard, Dr Levi Beeching, Dr Andrew Kingston

Plasma Applications and Technology

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

Quantum Science and Technology

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