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

Radioimpurities in particle detectors for dark matter studies

This experiment will characterise dark matter detector material. Lowest levels of natural radioactivity in high purity samples will be analysed via ultra-senstive single atom counting using acclerator mass spectrometry.

Dr Michaela Froehlich , Dr Zuzana Slavkovska, A/Prof Stephen Tims, Professor Gregory Lane

In space, no-one can hear you scream. Is this true?

Thrusters for propulsion generally require nozzles but is this necessary in the vaccum of space?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Active orbital control systems for nano-sats orbiting the Moon

Active plasma thrusters are needs for in orbit manouvers and for arranging constellations of satellites. 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Reducing Entropy in Lunar Supply Chains

It costs a lot to get material to the Moon. Can available materials on the Moon's surface be used? 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Exotic nuclear structure towards the neutron dripline

Investigate the properties of exotic nuclei and their impact on fundamental models and creation of the elements when stars explode. 

Dr AJ Mitchell

Paving the way to study the chronology of the Early Solar System

Radionuclides can serve as tracers and chronometers for environmental processes. The time scale for these clocks is set by the half-life of the respective radioisotope. Using accelerator mass spectrometry and decay counting this project aims investigate the chronology of the Early Solar System.

Dr Stefan Pavetich, Dr Michaela Froehlich , A/Prof Stephen Tims, Mr Dominik Koll

Space radiation modelling

Modelling space radiation environments to inform ground-based radiation testing at the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF).

Dr Ian Carter, Mr Ben Coombes

Determining the orbital characteristics of a constellation of nano-sats orbiting the Moon

There is no lunar GPS so how will satellite orbits be determined for safety and efficiency in designing missions.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Design a rail gun to operate in vacuum producing a force of 1mN

Can electrical launch systems replace chemical systems in launching nano-satellites from the Moon?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Launching nano-satellites from the Earth's Moon

Generally chemical propulsion is used to launch satellites from the moon. Is it possible to use available resources instead?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Benchmark positron scattering experiments

Using the atomic and molecular physics positron beam at the ANU, the student will undertake measurements of positron scattering from simple targets, providing high accuracy data to test recent theoretical calculations.

A/Prof. James Sullivan, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

Measuring and modelling free-ion hyperfine fields

Motivated by exciting prospects for measurements of the magnetism of rare isotopes produced by the new radioactive beam accelerators internationally, this experimental and computational project seeks to understand the enormous magnetic fields produced at the nucleus of highly charged ions by their atomic electron configuration.

Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi, Mr Brendan McCormick

Positron applications in medical physics

This is a multi-faceted project which can be adapted to students at the honours level and above. A number of possibilities exist to perform experiments directed towards improving the use of positrons in medice, mostly focussed on Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

A/Prof. James Sullivan, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

Biophysics

Positron applications in medical physics

This is a multi-faceted project which can be adapted to students at the honours level and above. A number of possibilities exist to perform experiments directed towards improving the use of positrons in medice, mostly focussed on Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

A/Prof. James Sullivan, Professor Stephen Buckman, Dr Joshua Machacek

Engineering in Physics

In space, no-one can hear you scream. Is this true?

Thrusters for propulsion generally require nozzles but is this necessary in the vaccum of space?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Particle simulation of dual frequency processing plasmas

We employ Particle in Cell simulations that are inexpensive true computer experiments to complement the use of costly industrial microchip plasma systems.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Active orbital control systems for nano-sats orbiting the Moon

Active plasma thrusters are needs for in orbit manouvers and for arranging constellations of satellites. 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Computer simulation of expanding plasmas

Experimental work on expanding plasmas is greatly aided by computer simulation using plasma fluid codes. 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Plasma surface interactions under extreme conditions

High power ion beams can be used to replace lasers as sources for evaporated coating material. Work with industry to discover the physics.

Professor Roderick Boswell

System calculations for hunter killer satellites

Space junk is a major problem for space travel. We use an energetic particle beam to manoeuvre a satellite close to junk then blast it with the particle beam to deorbit the junk

Professor Roderick Boswell

Nuclear lifetimes - developing new apparatus and methods

The measurement of the lifetimes of excited nuclear states is foundational for understanding nuclear excitations. This project covers three measurement methods that together span the nuclear lifetime range from about 100 femtoseconds to many nanoseconds. The project can include equipment development, measurement, and the development of analysis methodology (programming and computation). 

Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi, Professor Gregory Lane, Mr Ben Coombes

Magnetic nozzles and plasma generated by a remote source

When plasmas are decoupled from their source of power, much can be learned about non-local effects of energy transport.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Determining the orbital characteristics of a constellation of nano-sats orbiting the Moon

There is no lunar GPS so how will satellite orbits be determined for safety and efficiency in designing missions.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Ultra-fast lifetime measurements of nuclear excited states

Use ultra-fast gamma-ray detectors to perform excited-state lifetime measurements and investigate single-particle and collective features of atomic nuclei. 

Professor Gregory Lane, Dr AJ Mitchell, Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi

Design a rail gun to operate in vacuum producing a force of 1mN

Can electrical launch systems replace chemical systems in launching nano-satellites from the Moon?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Launching nano-satellites from the Earth's Moon

Generally chemical propulsion is used to launch satellites from the moon. Is it possible to use available resources instead?

Professor Roderick Boswell

Nuclear structure studies with particle transfer reactions

This project will use nuclear reactions to study the basic make-up of atomic nuclei at the quantum level, and investigate the impact of nuclear structure on sub-atomic forces and fundamental physics. 

Dr AJ Mitchell, Professor Gregory Lane, Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi

Environmental Physics

Reducing Entropy in Lunar Supply Chains

It costs a lot to get material to the Moon. Can available materials on the Moon's surface be used? 

Professor Roderick Boswell

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

Physics of the Nucleus

Radioimpurities in particle detectors for dark matter studies

This experiment will characterise dark matter detector material. Lowest levels of natural radioactivity in high purity samples will be analysed via ultra-senstive single atom counting using acclerator mass spectrometry.

Dr Michaela Froehlich , Dr Zuzana Slavkovska, A/Prof Stephen Tims, Professor Gregory Lane

Characterisation and optimisation of an ionization detector system for probing dissipation effects

Characterisation and optimisation of ionization detector system for probing dissipation effects in multi-nucleon transfer reactions

Dr Ian Carter, Professor Mahananda Dasgupta, Professor David Hinde, Mr Ben Swinton-Bland

Measuring and modelling free-ion hyperfine fields

Motivated by exciting prospects for measurements of the magnetism of rare isotopes produced by the new radioactive beam accelerators internationally, this experimental and computational project seeks to understand the enormous magnetic fields produced at the nucleus of highly charged ions by their atomic electron configuration.

Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi, Mr Brendan McCormick

Exotic nuclear structure towards the neutron dripline

Investigate the properties of exotic nuclei and their impact on fundamental models and creation of the elements when stars explode. 

Dr AJ Mitchell

Paving the way to study the chronology of the Early Solar System

Radionuclides can serve as tracers and chronometers for environmental processes. The time scale for these clocks is set by the half-life of the respective radioisotope. Using accelerator mass spectrometry and decay counting this project aims investigate the chronology of the Early Solar System.

Dr Stefan Pavetich, Dr Michaela Froehlich , A/Prof Stephen Tims, Mr Dominik Koll

Nuclear lifetimes - developing new apparatus and methods

The measurement of the lifetimes of excited nuclear states is foundational for understanding nuclear excitations. This project covers three measurement methods that together span the nuclear lifetime range from about 100 femtoseconds to many nanoseconds. The project can include equipment development, measurement, and the development of analysis methodology (programming and computation). 

Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi, Professor Gregory Lane, Mr Ben Coombes

Space radiation modelling

Modelling space radiation environments to inform ground-based radiation testing at the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF).

Dr Ian Carter, Mr Ben Coombes

Creating new superheavy elements

The discovery of new elements is of fundamental importance in progressing our society – new elements have contributed human history toward an affluent society. This project aims at proposing the best way to create new superheavy elements based on our studies, and at creating new superheavy elements with the best way. 

Dr Taiki Tanaka, Professor David Hinde, Professor Mahananda Dasgupta

Ultra-fast lifetime measurements of nuclear excited states

Use ultra-fast gamma-ray detectors to perform excited-state lifetime measurements and investigate single-particle and collective features of atomic nuclei. 

Professor Gregory Lane, Dr AJ Mitchell, Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi

Nuclear batteries: Energy-storage applications of nuclear isomers

Nuclear metastable states, known colloquially as isomers, have energy densities millions of times greater than chemical batteries. This project investigates nuclear pathways for reliably extracting this energy from candidate isotopes on demand. 

Dr AJ Mitchell, Professor Gregory Lane

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, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi, Professor Gregory Lane, Mr Brendan McCormick

Nuclear structure studies with particle transfer reactions

This project will use nuclear reactions to study the basic make-up of atomic nuclei at the quantum level, and investigate the impact of nuclear structure on sub-atomic forces and fundamental physics. 

Dr AJ Mitchell, Professor Gregory Lane, Professor Andrew Stuchbery, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi

Plasma Applications and Technology

Particle simulation of dual frequency processing plasmas

We employ Particle in Cell simulations that are inexpensive true computer experiments to complement the use of costly industrial microchip plasma systems.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Computer simulation of expanding plasmas

Experimental work on expanding plasmas is greatly aided by computer simulation using plasma fluid codes. 

Professor Roderick Boswell

Plasma surface interactions under extreme conditions

High power ion beams can be used to replace lasers as sources for evaporated coating material. Work with industry to discover the physics.

Professor Roderick Boswell

System calculations for hunter killer satellites

Space junk is a major problem for space travel. We use an energetic particle beam to manoeuvre a satellite close to junk then blast it with the particle beam to deorbit the junk

Professor Roderick Boswell

Magnetic nozzles and plasma generated by a remote source

When plasmas are decoupled from their source of power, much can be learned about non-local effects of energy transport.

Professor Roderick Boswell

Theoretical Physics

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, Emeritus Professor Tibor Kibedi, Professor Gregory Lane, Mr Brendan McCormick

Updated:  24 May 2022/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster