DTC PHYS 1 - Project Title: Spectral properties of Quantum Chromodynamics at nonzero temperature and density

Description: The phase structure of QCD, the theory of the strong interactions, is probed by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, by colliding heavy ions. As the temperature is increased, the spectrum changes dramatically, since hadrons dissolve into quarks and gluons. In this project, we investigate what happens when a small nonzero baryon density is present, which is relevant for collisions at lower energy. The project will combine simulations of lattice QCD on high-performance computing
facilities, advanced data analysis and analytical studies of thermal field theory.

DTC PHYS 2 - Project Title: Using Novel Techniques to Uncover the Spectrum of Quantum Chromodynamics at nonzero temperature

Description: At large temperatures, QCD changes nature and quarks are no longer bound into hadrons but can travel independently through the Quark Gluon Plasma. To understand this in more detail it's important to study how hadrons begin to melt in the hadronic (i.e. confined) phase. This project will investigate novel techniques, based on Bayesian statistics and machine learning, to extract the hadronic spectrum as the temperature increases towards the deconfinement temperature.

DTC PHYS 3 - Project Title: String Theory and Field Theory Strong-Weak Dualities

Description: In order to study the strong coupling regime of QCD (Quantum Chromodynamics) it is useful to use strong-weak dualities. By embedding the field theory in string theory it is possible to gain a better understanding of the gauge theory dynamics. The aim of this project is to construct new dualities in both string theory and in field theory.

DTC PHYS 5 - Project Title: Levitated Optomechanics and Coherent Optical Feedback

Description: Optomechanics explores the control of matter with light, and is the underlying technique behind exciting new technologies and the remarkable discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO. Levitated Optomechanics uses a single nanoparticle, trapped in vacuum at the high-intensity focus of a laser, and offers a table-top and accessible platform to study this compelling physical system. The student will build on existing experimental activity at Swansea to explore the limits of position resolution, the possibilities of coherent optical feedback, and the feasibility of practical devices.

DTC PHYS 6 - Project Title: Enabling technologies for space-borne optomechanics

Description: The Measurement Problem in Quantum Mechanics has given rise to interpretations from pragmatic Copenhagen to esoteric Many Worlds, with no satisfactory resolution in sight; it may instead be an experimental question.
The MAQRO Mission takes experimental tests of wave-particle duality to the logical extreme of nanoscale particles in 200nm superpositions, enabled by a space-borne platform currently being discussed with ESA.  In this project, the student will explore technological solutions, including wet chemistry and custom ultrasonics, to the key challenge of bringing nanoparticles into an optical trap at ultra-high vacuum under cryogenic conditions.

DTC PHYS 7 - Project Title: Femtosecond electron microscopy of ultrafast phenomena in nanoscale systems.

Description: Ultrafast lasers can be employed to generate femtosecond (fs) duration pulses of electrons, which in a time-resolving analogue of TEM, facilitates the tracking of transient electric and magnetic fields, phase changes, plasmonic and phononic behaviours and charge density waves. In this project, we will continue to develop fs-TEM as a broadly applicable experimental technique, investigating photon-initiated dynamics on fs to ns timescales in nanostructures such as coated or doped nanorods, ion-beam etched devices and multi-layer transistor elements. The student will build on experience at Swansea in femtosecond lasers, electron pulse manipulation and nanoscale surface science, with the potential to use laser and electron Facilities operated by STFC.

DTC PHYS 8 - Project Title: Laser ablation molecular isotope spectroscopy (LAMIS) of paleoenvironmental materials.

Description: A record of environmental characteristics such as ocean acidity, atmospheric opacity, rainfall and temperature are "encoded" into paleoenvironmental samples such as tree rings, sediments and pollen, where the signature of variability is the amount of naturally occurring isotopes containing carbon and oxygen. LAMIS will be employed to measure molecular isotope ratios in such samples, and comparisons made to mass spectroscopy methods employed in the Department of Geography, Swansea University. This adaptation of a fundamental spectroscopy tool to the measurement of natural materials facilitates rapid analysis down to extremely small sample sizes and will result in a device usable in the field. 

 DTC PHYS 9 - Project Title: Towards cold chemistry via charge exchange reactions with positronium.

Description: Laser cooling leads to spectacular precision in experiments which underpin societally essential technologies such as atomic clocks. In principle, the same precision could be applied to controlling chemical reactions, e.g. precisely tuned kinetic energies might be used to study the role of scattering resonances in molecular reaction dynamics or chemical processes in the interstellar medium, but only a few select species of atoms and even fewer species of molecules can be laser-cooled in practice either because their structure is too complicated or simply because lasers do not exist at the necessary wavelengths. In this project we will investigate a general method to create cold neutrals in an arbitrary species by first sympathetically cooling the ion with a laser coolable refrigerant in a trap and then neutralising the ion in a charge exchange reaction with positronium (the bound state of an electron and a positron) which due to its low mass does not cause heating.

DTC PHYS 10 - Project Title: Novel laser cooling methods for precision tests of fundamental symmetry

Description: The ALPHA collaboration at CERN has in a recent series of breakthrough spectroscopic experiments conducted the first precision tests of fundamental symmetry with antihydrogen. Despite the low temperatures already achieved, the remaining kinetic energy of the sample poses a limit on the precision of measurements, and due to the wavelengths associated with transitions in many species of interest (such as e.g. antihydrogen or dipolar molecules) laser cooling is very difficult to achieve in practice using standard methods. In this project, we will investigate novel laser cooling methods and study their applicability to laser cooling of hydrogen and antihydrogen in the ALPHA experiment at CERN.

DTC PHYS 11 - Project Title: Numerical Simulation of Electron Transport in Graphene and Related Planar Systems 

Description: It is proposed to study 2+1d relativistic interacting fermions by numerical simulations of a lattice field theory which models layered systems with very strong interactions between charge carriers, leading to superfluid ground states via condensation of particle-hole pairs known as “excitons" (see Armour et al, Phys. Rev. B92 (2015) 235143, arXiv:1509.03401). The focus will be on charge transport in such strongly-interacting systems, in particular, non-linear effects such as electron viscosity, and the interlayer conductivity known as “drag”. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Center for Complex Quantum Systems, UTexas Austin.

DTC PHYS 12 - Project Title: Quantum Field Theories and the Quantum to Classical Transition

Description: It is a subtle problem to understand how classical physics emerges out of quantum field theory and yet this is an extremely important problem because we know that the world is, on the one hand, described by quantum field theory but, on the other, the world we experience is classical. This project will investigate the presently existing heuristic understanding of the quantum to classical transition and will attempt to put the theory on a sounder footing to enable a better understanding of the various applications, like in the early universe during inflation or during symmetry breaking.

DTC PHYS 13 - Project Title:  Far from equilibrium physics and Bose-Fermi duality in 2+1 dimensions

Description:  In 2+1 dimensions there exists a fascinating quantum duality between bosons and fermions in the presence of interactions mediated by a Chern-Simons field, which is of relevance for the Quantum Hall Effect. The aim of this project is to understand how this Bose-Fermi duality is realised in physical observables of the quantum field theory far from an equilibrium state. We will use large-N resummation techniques to calculate correlation functions analytically and numerically to yield physical quantities, e.g. scrambling times and out-of-time-ordered correlators, that characterize thermalization and/or the onset of quantum chaos in bosonic and fermionic Chern-Simons theories separately and observe how the aforementioned duality is realized.

DTC PHYS 14 - Project Title:  Conformal quantum mechanics of impurities and holography

Description: The quantum mechanics of point-like "impurities" placed inside extended quantum systems play an important role in a number of important physical applications such as high-T superconductivity and the Kondo effect. In this project, we will study large-N quantum mechanics of such an impurity placed in an ambient higher dimensional conformal quantum field theory, with deformations localized on the impurity that drives the system away from the conformal point. We will apply large-N saddle point methods to solve such quantum mechanical problems using both numerical and analytical methods in order to understand renormalization group flows in such models, paying specific attention to those for which results are independently known or expected from their representation in a holographic /dual gravitational framework.

DTC PHYS 15 - Project Title:  Femtosecond diffractive imaging using structured light

Description:  Coherent pulses of extreme ultraviolet radiation with durations as short as a few femtoseconds will be generated using high-intensity ultrafast laser systems.  The space-time structure of the laser pulses will be precisely controlled using an adaptive optics system recently developed by project partners at Oxford University, resulting in extreme ultraviolet radiation uniquely tailored for tabletop diffractive imaging experiments.  This system will be used to image a range of nanoscale objects, including biological material and ion-etched nanostructures, with the project allowing travel to external facilities in the UK and abroad.

DTC PHYS 16 - Project Title: Precision spectroscopy of antihydrogen

Description: Antimatter appears to be almost entirely absent from our Universe in contradiction of predictions based on the Standard Model of particle physics. We are investigating this conundrum by looking for hitherto undetected differenced between matter and antimatter by studying laboratory made and trapped antihydrogen in the ALPHA experiment at CERN. In this proposed project we are working on precision measurements of the 1S-2S transition in antihydrogen, a transition measured to 15 decimal places in hydrogen and therefore offering the most precise comparison of matter and antimatter possible.

TC PHYS 17 - Project Title: Antihydrogen and the weak equivalence principle

Description: Antimatter appears to be almost entirely absent from our Universe in contradiction of predictions based on the Standard Model of particle physics. We are investigating this conundrum by looking for hitherto undetected differenced between matter and antimatter by studying laboratory made and trapped antihydrogen in the ALPHA experiment at CERN. In this project we wish will investigate the influence of gravity on antihydrogen released from our trap and thereby compare its inertial and gravitational mass as a test of the weak equivalence principle for antimatter.

DTC PHYS 18 - Project Title: Next Generation Semiconductors and Devices for Optoelectronics 

Description: Semiconductors such as silicon are the engine of modern technology and ubiquitous in virtually every aspect of 21st-century life. This project will focus on understanding the electro-optical physics of the next generation of semiconductors and related devices – in particular, organic and organohalide perovskite semiconductors for use in applications such as energy harvesting and photodetection. The project will involve the development and utilization of advanced spectroscopic techniques and will be closely linked to applied-device related work in the College of Engineering.

DTC PHYS 19 - Project Title: Bioelectronic Materials and Devices

Description: Bioelectronics is an exciting new field at the intersection of the life and physical sciences with the central theme of creating new medical therapies through the connection of biological structures with modern electronics. This project will involve basic studies of how to connect the physics of biological signals (predominantly carried by ions and protons) with the electron-hole currents in semiconductors. In particular, the research will be focused on the key challenge of solid-state ion-to-electron transduction and push the limits of current technology to create ‘bioelectronic logic’.

DTC PHYS 20 - Project Title: Symmetries, Duality, integrability or chaos 

Description: Many systems and problems of Mathematical Physics present symmetries. Good use of these symmetries leads to interesting insights or a solution to the problem. The same can be said about dualities. This project uses various dualities, like AdS/CFT, T-duality and its non-Abelian version. We shall explore the interplay between these ideas and the concepts of integrability or chaos in different quantum field theories, using a string theoretical description.

DTC PHYS 21 - Project Title: Compositeness and Physics Beyond the Standard Model

Description: After the discovery of the Higgs particle, the on-going LHC program started a new era of explorations of the energy frontier in new, unchartered territory.

One important goal of this huge international effort is to understand the fundamental origin of electroweak symmetry breaking, and this project will allow the student to contribute in this direction by studying in details the phenomenological and theoretical implications of compositeness as a way to complete the Standard Model at high energies.

The ambitious research program requires that the student gain insight on the quantum field theory aspects of the problem, aimed at building, developing and testing concrete realisations of compositeness, by combining elements from at least one amongst experimental and phenomenological considerations, effective field theory arguments, and non-perturbative methods (gauge/gravity dualities and lattice field theory).

DTC PHYS 22 - Project Title: Exotic hadrons

Supervisor: Dr Tim Burns
Email: t.burns@swansea.ac.uk
Staff profile: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/staff/science/physics/t.burns/

Description: In recent years, at the Large Hadron Collider and other experiments, many puzzling new hadrons have been discovered. Due to their unusual properties, these "exotic" hadrons cannot be explained by conventional theoretical ideas, and while several competing interpretations have been proposed, a compelling and unified description remains elusive. In this project you will explore the predictions of the different models, using both analytical and numerical calculations. The aim is to propose experimental measurements which can discriminate among the interpretations for these exotics and to guide the search for related exotic particles which have not yet been discovered.

How to apply for a Physics Research Degree Project

Candidates must have a minimum of an upper second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, or an appropriate Master’s degree (with Merit). Informal enquiries are welcome by emailing the project supervisor.

Please send the following to science-scholarships@swansea.ac.uk and include the reference number of the reference number of the project in the email subject line (eg DTC BIO 1):

  • A comprehensive CV to include:
  • Details of qualifications, including grades
  • Details of any current and relevant employment or work experience
  • A covering letter stating why the project you are applying for particularly matches your skills and experience and how you would choose to develop the project