Physics

University of Auckland Ground Station 1

Supervisor

Dr Nick Rattenbury

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI168

The University’s first CubeSat mission is scheduled to fly late 2018. We have a ground station on top of the Physics building to communicate with satellites. This station requires final calibration and testing, and development of corresponding control and analysis software. This work will be done in conjunction with the Auckland Programme for Space Systems, using the new APSS laboratories on Symonds Street and the Department of Physics Electronics Laboratory. You will be working with students and staff in the Faculty of Engineering, as well as in the Faculty of Science. You will also assist in the preparation to communicate with the first APSS satellite mission via the Defence Technology Agency’s ground station, working with DTA staff to ensure a smooth connection between the DTA systems and the University network.

This will be of interest to you if:

* you have a reasonable grasp of radio communications,
* good electronics / lab skills,
* good computer network skills,
* excellent written and oral communication skills,
* an interest in space system hardware.
 

Boiling Gold out of Geothermal Systems: Earthquakes, Collapsing Volcanoes and Magma Pulses

Design a UV space telescope mission to detect intermediate mass black holes

Supervisor

Dr Nick Rattenbury

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI169

Intermediate mass black holes are theorised to exist in our Galaxy. They are difficult to detect, however. One channel for discovery is by looking for tidal disruption flares (TDFs), wherein a companion to a black hole is disrupted the the gravitational distortion of the BH and emits bursts of radiation. These transient events are highly energetic, but emit most of the radiation in the UV, making ground-based observations only sensitive to the brightest events. This project will be to design a small satellite to make UV observations from space, in order to detect fainter TDFs. You will be working with colleagues at The University of Warsaw.

This will be of interest to you if:

* you have an interest in space system mission design,
* you have a good background in — or at least a strong interest in — astronomy or astrophysics,
* good electronics / optics skills,
* excellent written and oral communication skills.
 

Multidimensional Dataset Visualisation with an Oculus Rift

Supervisor

Dr Nick Rattenbury

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI170

This project will require the student to investigate multidimensional astronomical datasets -- including the Gaia Data Release 2 -- using an Oculus Rift. You will be using the iViz visualisation software from Virtualitics (no experience necessary).

This will be of interest to you if:

* you have an interest in data analysis, and human-computer interaction,
* good programming skills,
* excellent written and oral communication skills.
 

Dynamic Microfluidics (Experiments)

Supervisor

Geoff Willmott

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI171

Experimental projects are available in which microscale liquid dynamics are of interest, and high-speed photography is an important tool. Suitable topics include drop impact experiments, and capillary uptake of drops. A project could also focus on development of image analysis techniques. Suitable for students from any quantitative science / engineering background.

Nanofluidics and Active Matter (Theory / Modelling)

Supervisor

Geoff Willmott

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI172

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.

Clouds in Earth’s changing climate

Supervisor

Tra Dinh

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI173

Clouds is the largest source of uncertainty in climate models’ prediction of global warming. Understanding the physical reasons for the spread in clouds across models is crucial to allow us to constrain and predict accurately Earth’s changing climate. This project explores the difference in the representation of clouds in different climate models. This project involves numerical programming (e.g. Python, Fortran) and handling large datasets from both satellite observations and model outputs.

Optical frequency combs in ultra-high Q microresonators

Supervisor

Stuart Murdoch

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI174

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, and experimental implementation of new microresonator based comb designs.

Widely tunable microresonator parametric oscillators.

Supervisor

Stuart Murdoch

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI175

Optical microresonators are tiny optical cavities that can trap light for extended periods of time allowing for highly efficient nonlinear interactions. Recent work, by our group, has shown that under the right conditions these devices can efficiently generate light at new wavelengths far from the original pump frequency. So far we have been able to demonstrate over an octave of narrowband tunability in these devices, with the output light tunable in wavelength from 1095 to 2539 nm. We now wish to push the performance of these devices even further and generate signals in the spectroscopically important ‘molecular fingerprint’ region around 3 um. The successful candidate will work with our group on the experimental and theoretical realisation of these exciting new devices.

Dielectric coated silicon terahertz whispering-gallery mode resonators

Supervisor

A-Prof R Leonhardt

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI176

Silicon whispering-gallery mode resonators (Si WGMRs) are currently the best resonators for terahertz (THz) radiation. We want to use the Si WGMRs to investigate the properties of dielectric materials (e.g. polymers) with unprecedented precision. The project aims for the development of a coating process of the resonators that results in a uniform thickness for the dielectric coating. The student will be working in clean room facilities and exploit optical coherence tomography to measure the thickness of the coating. Ultimately, the coated Si THz WGMRs will be characterized using THz spectroscopy.  

Novel terahertz whispering-gallery mode resonators

Supervisor

A-Prof R Leonhardt

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI177

Whispering-gallery mode resonators (WGMRs) show unprecedented properties in the terahertz (THz) frequency range. The compact and monolithic resonators provide outstanding opportunities for a wide range of applications of THz radiation. The aim of this project is to explore promising materials/shapes for the realization of novel THz WGMRs. The student will perform the experimental characterization of a range of different resonators. The project involves the modification of an existing THz system, measurement of the characteristics of the resonators, as well as the analysis and interpretation of the experimental data.  

Modeling of terahertz whispering-gallery mode resonators

Supervisor

A-Prof R Leonhardt

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI178

Whispering-gallery mode resonators (WGMRs) for terahertz (THz) radiation is a cutting-edge research topic. Numerical modeling of such resonators is essential to fully exploit their potentialas as they can be used , e.g., to predict the optimal shape. The aim of this project is to provide simulations to support the experimental work performed in the THz Lab. The student will be using Mie scattering as well as sophisticated simulation packages to model the WGMRs. The majority of the simulations are performed on a supercomputer. Good programming skills, e.g. in Python or Matlab, are essential.

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. Current experiments include Quantum Gauge field simulations and making “transistor” for ultracold atoms.

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 nanofibers and using light to trap and manipulate neutral atoms.

Measurement of myofibril diameter using Optical Coherence Tomography and Mie scattering

Supervisor

Dr Frédérique Vanholsbeeck
Sam Hitchman  

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI181

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging technology with 10’s of micrometer resolution. Some biological materials have substructures smaller than the resolution of OCT systems. In this case the size of scatterers can be determined using the signature of Mie scattering in the backscattered light.

This project aims to use OCT and Mie scattering to determine the size of myofibrils in bovine muscle 24 hours post-mortem. Results collected using OCT will be compared to destructive imaging modalities to determine the accuracy of the OCT system.

The student will gain experience in both free-space and fibre optics, biological sample handling, non-invasive imaging and data analysis.
 

Tissue differentiation using in vivo biomedical imaging

Supervisor

Dr Frédérique Vanholsbeeck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI182

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.  

Near real-time bacterial monitoring

Supervisor

Cushla McGoverin
Frederique Vanholsbeeck

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI183

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.

Monitoring the Auckland Volcanic Field

Supervisor

Kasper van Wijk

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI184

In this project, we will set up the MSNnoise software on the seismic network of the Auckland Volcanic Field to monitor the subsurface for any changes.

Laser Ultrasonic testing of Kiwi fruit

Supervisor

Kasper van wijk

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI185

To test the ripeness of kiwi fruit, we will excite and detect ultrasound with lasers. We will investigate the characteristics of the waves to determine parameters including firmness of the fruit.

Software Development for orbital radar

Supervisor

Dr Nicholas Rattenbury
John Cater
Andrew Austin

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI186

This project will use start of the art ARENA miniaturized radar system to create an unfocussed synthetic aperture radar system for use in space. Some programming experience is required.

Plasma thruster development

Supervisor

Dr Nicholas Rattenbury
John Cater
Andrew Austin

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI187

Development of plasma thrusters for satellite manoeuvring, including possible testing at the Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre in Australia. Physics or mechanics experience desirable.

Titanium foams for space

Supervisor

Dr Nicholas Rattenbury
John Cater
Andrew Austin

Discipline

Physics

Project code: SCI188

Research into the creation and mechanical properties of titanium alloy foams for use in space. Materials testing experience preferred.