Physics

Defining high-impact meteorological events for the islands of the Pacific


Supervisor

Gilles Bellon

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI173

What meteorological events have a large impact on society? While the impact of catastrophic events (tropical cyclones) is well documented and prepared for, that of low-intensity events such as droughts, heat waves, and long rainy events on public health, infrastructure, and economy are less well-known. This inter-disciplinary project aims to start addressing this knowledge gap.

Low-clouds and the stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition.


Supervisor

Gilles Bellon

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI174

Subtropical low clouds are the main source of uncertainty in our knowledge of climate change. This project aims to better understand the factors that control the cloud fraction and cloud thickness in the subtropics where transition occurs between stratocumulus and small cumulus clouds, and how the contribution of these processes change in space. 

Mechanism of convective aggregation


Supervisor

Gilles Bellon

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI175

Convective clouds tend to huddle together, forming large ensembles that are the basis of many meteorological systems in the tropics (mesoscale convective systems , tropical cyclones, Madden-Julian oscillation). Understanding this aggregation is currently one of the major challenges of atmospheric sciences. This project aims to explore a possible mechanism for this phenomenon.

Development of ultra-low-noise microphones


Supervisor

Dr Lily Panton

Prof Stuart Bradley

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI176

Wind noise in microphones limits their use in outdoor situations. This ‘aeroacoustic’ noise is caused by interaction of turbulence generated on the microphone surface with that surface. In this project we want to investigate use of tiny microphones in very small enclosures so that we limit the surface area over which air can flow. We expect to obtain scale relationships and aerodynamic design insights.

You will be doing measurements in a wind tunnel and outdoors, and will learn a range of signal processing skills, as well as simulations using Matlab or Python. You will design test models for 3D printing in the Precision Acoustics Lab.

Spatiotemporal mode-locking for ultrashort laser pulse generation


Supervisor

Dr Miro Erkintalo

Prof. Neil G. R. Broderick

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI177

Mode-locked lasers are capable of generating ultrashort bursts of laser light, and they have numerous applications ranging from medicine to manufacturing. In this project, you will explore an entirely new paradigm of ultrashort pulse generation based on spatiotemporal mode-locking in multimode fibres. Very recent research shows this approach to hold great potential for realising new laser sources with unprecedented performance.

The project is predominantly experimental, involving the design of a suitable laser oscillator, ordering of required components, and then construction and characterisation of the device. 

Calibrating supernova simulations


Supervisor

JJ Eldridge

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI178

This project involves studying supernova were the progenitor star was observed prior to explosion. The student will determine, from a large of of stellar models, which closest match to the star observed when it exploded. Then using supernova simulations of that model star exploding we will determine if the models also match the stellar explosion. This will require the student (with guidance) to find and download the observational data for each relevant supernova. Finally they will also write a code to determine the best fit for a supernova given the nature of the star before and during its explosion. 

Quantum simulation with atomic deBroglie waves


Supervisor

Maarten Hoogerland

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI179

You will work as a part of the Quantum Simulation team on the BEC apparatus. You will learn about manipulating neutral atoms with light, and how we can simulate complex systems using ultracold atoms.Project description

Quantum networks with tapered optical fibres


Supervisor

Maarten Hoogerland

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI180

You will work as a part of the nanofiber team. You will learn about coupling ultra-cold atoms to the optical field in a nanofiber, and using this as a building block in a distributed quantum network. Along the way you will learn much about making fibers and using light to trap and manipulate neutral atoms.

Superconducting train


Supervisor

Maarten Hoogerland

Mark Conway

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI181

As a demonstration you will design a magnetic Mobius strip as a track to levitate a superconducting cart. You will learn about magnets, superconductivity and practical design.

Trapping bacteria with light


Supervisor

Maarten Hoogerland

Frederique Vanholsbeeck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI182

Small particles can be trapped using a focused laser beam. You will design and construct a setup we can use to investigate trapping of single-cell organisms.

THz plasmonic waveguides using Gallium pillars


Supervisor

A-Prof R Leonhardt

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI183

Structured metallic surfaces can be used to guide THz radiation. One promising structure are rows of pillars. As they have to have a high aspect ratio, they are not easy to manufacture. The project is about using Gallium (which has a melting point of about 30oC) to make these structures, and to characterise them using our time-domain THz spectrometer. If time allows it, more complicated structures like splitters or interferometers will be investigated.

THz plasmonic waveguides using Gallium pillars

Using thin-walled glass bubbles as THz sensors


Supervisor

A-Prof R Leonhardt

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI184

Thin-walled THz bubble resonators are promising candidates for sensing with very high accuracy. The evanescent field on the inside of the bubble is environmentally isolated from the other parts of the set-up, and therefore we should be able to detect the gas inside the bubble very easily. The project is about simulating the whole set-up, and determining the optimal parameters for sensing. If time allows the existing THz set-up can be used for first experiments.

Using thin-walled glass bubbles as THz sensors

Measurement of bacterial activity using an advanced all-fibre optical system


Supervisor

Cushla McGoverin

Frederique Vanholsbeeck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI185

Cyclic diguanylate is a messenger molecule that coordinates cellular functions associated with bacterial biofilm formation and pathogenicity. Using genetically encoded fluorescent bacteria and Förster (fluorescence) resonance energy transfer (FRET) we can establish rapidly it bacteria are dispersing or aggregating. This project will investigate the feasibility of using an all-fibre optical system to measure the FRET response of bacteria exposed to different conditions, e.g. presence/absence of iron. The student will learn about fluorescence and microbiology, specifically FRET and bacterial biofilms.

Near real-time bacterial monitoring


Supervisor

Cushla McGoverin

Frederique Vanholsbeeck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI186

The optrode is an all fibre spectroscopic near-real time system able to detect low levels of light upon optical excitation.  We are using this system to monitor bacterial growth and enumerate tagged bacteria. This project will be about enumerating bacteria using the optrode and different experimental conditions, e.g. fluorescent stain, species of bacteria. The student will learn about fluorescence and microbiology.

Design and fabrication of microfluidic platforms for bacterial counting


Supervisor

Cushla McGoverin

Frederique Vanholsbeeck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI187

Fluidic platforms may be used to automate sample preparation and particle sort a sample. In this project, the student will design and fabricate a fluidic device for bacterial enumeration at low concentrations. The student will learn about fluidics, and develop microfabrication and microbiological skills. 

Design and fabrication of microfluidic platforms for bacterial counting


Supervisor

Frederique Vanholsbeeck

Cushla McGoverin

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI188

The biophotonics labs is converting most of its systems to Python. The student will be required to code in python interface to drive the instruments and analyse the data. The range of applications involved include microscopy, real time image processing, optical coherence tomography, spectroscopic fluorescence and microfluidics. The student will learn about optical techniques and gain experience in designing user friendly interfaces for industrial and healthcare applications.

Optical frequency combs in ultra-high Q microresonators


Supervisor

Stuart Murdoch

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI189

An optical frequency comb is an ultra-precise spectroscopic ruler that allows the measurement of optical frequencies with unprecedented levels of accuracy. These combs are now used in a myriad of applications ranging from extra-solar planet detection to optical telecommunications. Their discovery was awarded a Nobel prize in 2005. Optical microresonators are tiny optical cavities that can trap light for extended periods of time allowing for highly efficient nonlinear interactions. New research has shown that under the correct conditions optical microresonators can produce high-quality frequency combs. This opens up the possibility of new chip-scale comb devices. The Auckland group has considerable experience in both the theory and experimental investigation of microresonator frequency combs. The successful candidate will work with our group on topics based around the theory, fabrication techniques, and experimental implementations of new microresonator based comb designs.

Characterisation of Emergent Complex Behaviour


Supervisor

Dr Nicholas Rattenbury

Dr Dion O’Neale

Dr Matthew Egbert

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI190

The student will continue to experiment with a high-voltage electrodynamic apparatus to observe the formation of a complex network of metallic spheres under a strong electric field. The network formation will be recorded using existing image recognition software and the results analysed using standard network and complexity theory. The work will further comprise altering the physical system in controlled experiments, to investigate the effect on network formation.

A reasonable level of Python programming skill is desirable.

Model evaluation using real-time observations from Wellington Harbour


Supervisor

Craig Stevens (Uoa/NIWA)

Joanne O’Callaghan (NIWA)

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI191

A project based in Wellington with NIWA’s Marine Physics Group to evaluate numerical model skill using historical and real-time ocean observations. The geographic location of the project is Wellington Harbour with the focus on understanding cumulative responses on the system from event-based discharges. Data analysis tools such as Matlab or Python will be used for interpolation, spectral transformation and correlation analyses to identify the times when models predictions converge to in situ observations. The project is funded by NIWA through the UoA/NIWA Joint Graduate School in Coastal and Marine Science.

Non-destructive testing of fruit and timber with laser ultrasound


Supervisor

Kasper van Wijk

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI192

There has been a growing interest from industry to apply our laboratory capabilities to test the quality of fruit and timber, as a novel non-destructive and non-contacting technique.

Tissue differentiation using in vivo biomedical imaging


Supervisor

Dr. Sylwia Kolenderska

Dr. Frédérique Vanholsbeeck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI193

This project is based on optical coherence tomography (OCT), an interferometric technique that allows high resolution in vivo imaging. The student will learn about the technique of OCT and how to analyse images to extract more information than just the structure of the sample. For example, information on the sample can be extracted using the Doppler effect or the image speckle. Information such as sample birefringence, elastic properties and so on can be obtained. Here we aim at measuring tissue dispersive properties to differentiate tissue. Ultimately, this work aims at performing in vivo biopsy.

Dynamic Microfluidics (Experiments)


Supervisor

Geoff Willmott

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI194

Experimental projects are available in which microscale liquid dynamics are of interest, and high-speed photography is an important tool. Possible topics include (i) drop impact experiments using ferrofluids, (ii) analysis of asymmetric ‘Janus’ microparticles, (iii) centrifugal microfluidics, and (iv) capillary uptake of drops. A project could also focus on development of image analysis techniques. Suitable for students from any quantitative science / engineering background.

Dynamic Microfluidics (Experiments)

Nanofluidics and Active Matter (Theory / Modelling)


Supervisor

Geoff Willmott

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI195

Project(s) will develop and use computational and/or theoretical models in the fields of (i) nanofluidics or (ii) active matter. In nanofluidics, liquids are confined to spaces on nanometre length scales. Modelling will be used to guide experimentalists working with nanopores and nanopipettes. Active matter involves collections of interacting, moving particles such as swarms and flocks. Here, the system to be studied is a large collection of asymmetric ‘Janus’ nanoparticles. Especially suitable for students with some computational / numerical experience.

Nanofluidics and active matter

A new probe of energy loss inside a quark-gluon plasma


Supervisor

David Krofcheck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI247

This Summer Project is to investigate the nuclear force called Quantum Chromo Dynamics (QCD). QCD is the known quantum field theory governing the behaviour of nuclear matter. This will be achieved by using computer simulated data to examine a new technique to measure the energy loss of high energy jets that traverse the hot, compressed nuclear matter generated by colliding lead ions (known as a Pb-Pb) collisions, p-Pb and p-p collisions. The student will then compare the energy loss of jets against the energy of an occasionally coincident, but weakly interacting, Z0/γ particle.