Denison Summer Scholarships - Physics


Project: (PHYS1) On-chip plasmonic excitation for single molecule Raman Sensing

Next-generation lab-on-a-chip bio-diagnostic tools will identify single molecules by their chemical signature, probed by light. The difficulty is that the interaction between light and molecues is rather weak; however, metallic nanostructures can increase the required interaction strength by several orders of magnitude. The aim of this theoretical project is to design a simple hybrid silicon-metal nano-structure which can efficiently bring extremely high field intensities in a small volume over very short distances. This is a theoretical project that will have analytical and a computational components.

Supervisor: Dr Alessandro Tuniz

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Stefano Palomba or Professor Martijn de Sterke

Dates: Nov-Dec or Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS2) High-Efficiecy Excitation of Guided Surface Plasmons in Seep Subwavelength Hybrid Silicon Nanowires

Focussing light down to a scale smaller than about half the wavelength is not possible using common optical materials (e.g. glass). However, at a metal/glass interface, photons and electrons can couple and give rise to a surface plasmon polaritons, which can be confined to a deeply subwavelength scale, radically enhancing the local electromagnetic field. Since plasmonic devices are often very short – sometimes just a few wavelengths – we need rapid efficient conversion to surface plasmon polaritons. The aim of this theoretical project is to design a simple and robust broadband coupling technique for connecting a silicon nanowire to a plasmonic channel with extremely high conversion efficiency, which will form on-chip ultra-compact optical interconnects. This is a theoretical project that will have analytical and a computational components.

Supervisor: Dr Alessandro Tuniz

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Stefano Palomba or Professor Martijn de Sterke

Dates: Nov-Dec or Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS3) The search for radio emission from exoplanets

With more than 3300 planets now discovered outside our Solar System (exoplanets), establishing what criteria define habitability is essential for determining the potential for life on these newly discovered planets. Star-planet magnetic interactions are expected to play an important role in determining habitability. One way to directly measure the magnetic properties of exoplanets is to observe radio emission from the planet. In this project, the student will become familiar with the current literature on searches for radio emission from known exoplanets. They will use the Galactic and Extra-galactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey to search for radio emission from all the currently known exoplanets located in Southern Hemisphere.

Supervisor: Dr Christene Lynch

Secondary Supervisor: Associate Professor Tara Murphy

Dates: Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS4) Nanoparticle therapies: validation of dose enhancement by high atomic number materials

High atomic number elements interact strongly with radiation to enhance the local radiation dose delivered to a medium. There are two ways in which the dose enhancement to a biological system can be achieved: first by dispersing the high atomic number elements as nanoparticles and second as ions in solution. In this project we will validate predictions of survival fraction using the clonogenic assay, made in our published theoretical study (nanoparticles) and in a recent third year special project (ions in solution - GK). The outcome will be practical recommendations for maximising the dose enhancement in cancer treatment.

Supervisor: Professor David McKenzie

Secondary Supervisor: Associate Professor Natalka Suchowerska

Dates: Nov-Dec or Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS5) Tracking of targeting nanoparticles

Targeting antibodies can be used to carry therapies to abnormal cells. The problem is, we don’t know if they get there. We have developed the technology to incorporate a very bright up-converting nanoparticle into a delivery capsule that can be labelled with a targeting antibody. The purpose of this study is for the first time to test the targeting efficiency of a commonly used antibody with this technology. This project will suit a student with an interest in nanoparticle medicine with a background in cell biology or nanoparticle physics. Good laboratory skills necessary.

Supervisor: Dr David Mckenzie

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Natalka Suchowerska

Dates: Nov-Dec or Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites:  

 

Project: (PHYS6) Are all breast cancers equally sensitive to radiation?

Radiation therapy is part of the treatment of most breast cancers, but they are typically prescribed the same radiation dose. Recently we have found that the major subtypes of breast cancer have different sensitivities to radiation. Radiation sensitivity can be described by the alpha and beta parameters of classical radiobiology theory. This project will suit either a student with an interest in cell biology (biology or medicine) or a student with an interest in radiation interactions with living cells (physics).

Supervisor: Dr David Mckenzie

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Natalka Suchowerska

Dates: Nov-Dec or Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites:  

 

Project: (PHYS7) Understanding brain connectivity and statistical analysis of fMRI data

Quantifying the static and dynamic connectivity of the brain helps the better understanding of how brain processes inputs and performs tasks rapidly. The connectivity between brain regions is often quantified via connectivity matrices (CMs). In particular, anatomical CMs (aCMs) summarise the known anatomical connectivity between brain regions, functional CMs (fCMs) are determined from the correlation of activity in brain regions using low-frequency functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and effective CMs (eCMs) quantify the neural effect of one region to another. The aims of this project are i) to understand brain connectivity and CMs, ii) to interrelate CMs using Neural Field Theory and eigenfunction analysis, and iii) statistical analysis of fMRI data.

Supervisor: Dr Demi Gao

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Peter Robinson

Dates: Nov-Dec or Jan-Feb

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS8) Brain mechanisms of memory consolidation during sleep

Research over the past decades has established that sleep benefits learning and memory consolidation. However, the brain mechanisms on this phenomenon are still unclear.  In this project we will use mathematical modelling to simulate dynamics of networks of brain cells (neurons) during sleep and wakefulness and to explore the role of neuronal synchronization in learning and memory.

Supervisor: Dr Dongping Yang

Secondary Supervisor: Associate Professor Changsong Zhou or Dr Svetlana Postnova

Dates: Nov-Dec or Dec-Jan

Prerequisites:  

 

Project: (PHYS9) Couplings of Higgs bosons in the CERN ATLAS experiment

The Higgs boson was discovered at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in 2012 by the ATLAS and CMS experiments, completing the Standard Model of particle physics (SM). Since then, attention has turned to detailed studies of its properties, motivated by the question of whether it is just the boson predicted by the SM or contains hints of something more exotic. Using ATLAS data, this project will study properties of Higgs boson coupling in the channel where the Higgs decays to two photons.

Supervisor: Dr Jin Wang

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Kevin Varvell

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS10) Semileptonic decays of B mesons in the Belle II experiment.

B mesons can decay via the weak force to lighter mesons, charged lepton and neutrino via a process known as semileptonic decay. Such decays allow us to determine fundamental parameters of the Standard Model of particle physics (SM) and to search for discrepancies from the SM description which could be indicators for the new physics if observed. The Belle II experiment located at the KEK laboratory in Japan is due to begin taking real data in the first half of 2018. In preparation for this we are exploring how well the detector can identify semileptonic decays, and this project will contribute to that work.

Supervisor: Professor Kevin Varvell

Secondary Supervisor:   

Dates: Jan-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS11) Quantum Control and Quantum Computation with Trapped Ions

This project will focus on experimental efforts to control and deploy trapped atomic ions for quantum information processing. Students will be involved in the development of new experimental hardware, advanced hardware-software interfacing, and the collection and analysis of measurement data on single trapped ions.  Experiments will be conducted in the Quantum Control Laboratory within the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, providing students with the opportunity to work in one of the most precisely controlled lab environments anywhere on the planet.

Supervisor: Professor Michael Biercuk

Secondary Supervisor:   

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS12) The TOLIMAN space Telescope.

Despite the manifest success witnessed by catalogs of exoplanetary detections climbing into the thousands, contemporary astronomy is still poorly equipped to answer the basic question of whether there are any potentially temperate planets orbiting any particular star system. This problem becomes particularly acute when considering stars in our local neighbourhood: close enough for detailed follow-up missions to characterize on decades timescales, and potentially for exploration by space probe on centuries timescales. Overwhelmingly the most promising technology to deliver a complete census of nearby habitable zone exoplanets and their properties down to Earth mass is high precision astrometry; to date a quite minor player in the exoplanetary domain. This project will help to establish the design for the TOLIMAN space telescope dedicated to astrometric detection of exoplanets, particularly targeting the Alpha Cen system. A Foundational Mission Study, jointly funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and the University of Sydney, is now underway. The project will model the innovative principles underlying the detection strategy and help specify the following phases of construction and launch.

Supervisor: Professor Peter Tuthill

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Barnaby Norris

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites:  

 

Project: (PHYS13) DNA nanotechnology: Top down meets bottom up

To physical and chemical scientists, DNA has huge potential as a programmable building material for biocompatible nanostructures, which can be self-assembled from the bottom up. This project aims to bridge the gap between traditional top-down nanofabrication techniques and cutting edge bottom-up self assembly, by using photolithography patterned surfaces to organise self-assembled DNA origami nanostructures. Projects will generally involve some combination of: computer aided design and modelling of DNA origami, assembly of structures and analysis with advanced imaging techniques, such as transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM).

Supervisor: Dr Shelley Wickham

Secondary Supervisor:   

Dates: Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS14) 3D sensing with novel capacitive fibre sensor

We have a unique capability to fabricate extremely sensitive, flexible microscale fibres, which include waveguides, electrodes and fluidic channels. We wish to explore the ability to sense mechanical perturbations or pressure in 3D.

Supervisor: Professor Simon Flemming

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Alessio Stefani or Dr Richard Lwin or Associate Professor Maryanne Large

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS15) Relationship between properties and composition of polyurethane

Literature study of the relationship between properties (mainly optical but also mechanical, maybe including rheological) and composition of polyurethane family of polymers. We have a unique capability to fabricate extremely sensitive, flexible microscale fibres, which include waveguides, electrodes and fluidic channels. This study will inform future developments

Supervisor: Professor Simon Flemming

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Alessio Stefani or Dr Richard Lwin or Associate Professor Maryanne Large

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS16) Prosthetic / robotic fingertip

(Array of sensors able to detect sub-mm surface structure). We have a unique capability to fabricate extremely sensitive, flexible microscale fibres, which include waveguides, electrodes and fluidic channels. Arrays of sensors should be able to reproduce the sensitivity of human fingertips.

Supervisor: Professor Simon Flemming

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Alessio Stefani Dr Richard Lwin or Associate Professor Maryanne Large

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS17) Quantum many-body systems for quantum computing

Quantum computers are potentially much more powerful than the computers we use today, but building a quantum computer is a huge challenge. Most proposals to construct one involve building it from scratch “atom by atom”. What we have shown is that certain materials, when cooled down to a very low temperature, will naturally form a quantum computer on their own. This theory project will be to investigate the zero‐ and low‐temperature quantum phases of some promising spin lattices, and develop techniques for quantum computation that are robust against variations in the Hamiltonian, thermal errors, or other deleterious effects.  It will make extensive use of techniques from quantum theory, statistical mechanics, and linear algebra, and will appeal to students with an interest in analytical techniques from mathematics as well as theoretical physics

Supervisor: Professor Stephen Bartlett

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Doherty or Associate Professor Steven Flammia

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS18) Quantum error correcting codes

Quantum information is fragile, and to build a quantum computer we will need to protect this delicate quantum information in a quantum error correcting code.  Theory projects in this area will explore candidate quantum error correcting codes according to a range of potential desirable properties:  (1) studying the error thresholds of the codes; (2) identifying what quantum logic gates can be performed; (3) developing efficient decoders to identify errors and extract the quantum information.  These projects can involve a mix of analytical mathematical methods as well as numerics (for example, Matlab).

Supervisor: Professor Stephen Bartlett

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Doherty or Associate Professor Steven Flammia

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS19) Theory of quantum computing with condensed-matter architectures

Qubits can be made out of a range of nanofabricated quantum systems and materials.  We are offering a number of theory projects in this area including: (1) developing robust and efficient methods to compute the wavefunction of the qubit, and how well the ‘quantum logic gates’ can be performed; (2) developing methods for quantum control; (3) designing basic demonstrations for quantum algorithms to run on a simple quantum computer.  These projects can involve a mix of analytical mathematical methods as well as numerics (for example, Matlab).

Supervisor: Professor Stephen Bartlett

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Doherty or Associate Professor Steven Flammia

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS20) Physics of sleep and body clocks

Internal circadian (~24 h) clocks drive every system in the human body: from circulation and cognition to sleep, metabolism, and mood. Multiple projects are offered focusing on the interplay between alertness, sleep, circadian clocks, and environmental inputs, such as light, meals or work. The projects involve use of computational/modelling methods and work with experimental data to improve our understanding of the relevant biological systems in healthy and disordered conditions and to enable predictions of dynamics in real-world.

Supervisor: Dr Svetlana Postnova

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Peter Robinson

Dates: Nov-Dec or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites:  

 

Project: (PHYS21) Measuring stellar oscillations with NASA's Kepler Mission 4

Asteroseismology involves using the oscillation frequencies of a star to measure its internal properties.  Many stars, including the Sun, are observed to oscillate.  This project will use data from NASA's Kepler Mission, which is a 1-metre space telescope that has discovered thousands of planets transiting other stars, and is also perfect for studying stellar oscillations.

Supervisor: Professor Tim Bedding

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Simon Murphy

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS22) Creating models of starquakes

The study of "starquakes", known as asteroseismology, involves using the oscillation frequencies of stars to infer their internal structure.  This project will use the software package MESA to generate theoretical models of stars and calculate their oscillation frequencies.

Supervisor: Professor Tim Bedding

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Tanda Li

Dates: Nov-Early Mar

Prerequisites:  

 

Project: (PHYS23) Critical mass and revolution: Uncovering phase transitions in opinion dynamics

We hear daily discussion in the media of the effects of extremism and polarisation of opinion, yet the origins of both these effects are still not well understood.  The tools of statistical physics have recently been turned to this area, with the quantitative nature of these tools allowing assumptions underlying social behaviour to be explored, and predictions made of certain emergent dynamics.  In this project, models incorporating the influence of an external player ("the government") will be studied, with the goal of identifying signatures of impending changes in public opinion.  The results will be compared directly with real-world social data (such as a twitter stream) so the models may be calibrated and the model predictions tested.

Supervisor: Dr Tristram Alexander

Secondary Supervisor:   

Dates: Nov-Dec or Jan-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS24) A DNA Detector Concept Design

This project will investigate, using computational simulations, the possibility of developing a dark matter detector based on DNA. The rationale behind this concept is that DNA presents a unique material with precisely defined nano-scale structure that can be exploited for tracking particle interactions that cause single-strand breaks. Directional information of the incident particles can thus be recorded with nano-metre spatial resolution.

Supervisor: Professor Zdenka Kuncic

Secondary Supervisor:   

Dates: Nov-Dec or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS

 

Project: (PHYS25) Predicting the radio properties from known exoplanets

The magnetised planets in our Solar System, such as Saturn and Jupiter, emit strongly at low radio frequencies. In fact, when Jupiter is flaring it can appear as bright as the sun to an external observer! There have been a number of searches for radio emission from Jupiter-like exoplanets but so far there have been no detections.  In this project the student will become familiar with current exoplanet modelling efforts in order to create their own web application that will display each of the known exoplanets as a function of predicted radio brightness and observing frequency. The student will build-in several features to this web application, such as selecting groups of planets based on physical properties (radius, mass, etc.) and querying outside databases for further info about individual exoplanets.

Supervisor: Dr Christene Lynch

Secondary Supervisor: Associate Professor Tara Murphy

Dates: Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb or Feb-Early Mar

Prerequisites: At least three PHYSXXXX UoS