Available thesis projects for graduate students


Title: Supermassive black hole growth & evolution
Project: This project would primarily involve using new high-resolution cosmological hydrodynamics simulations to study the growth history of supermassive black holes via gas accretion and direct mergers. The principal aims would be to understand the dominant modes of black hole fueling (e.g., galaxy mergers versus secular processes) and the implications for their early growth and co-evolution with galaxies over cosmic time. Further applications of this work could include quantifying selection biases in observations of active black holes and characterizing the progenitors of gravitational wave sources.
Contact: Laura Blecha lblecha@ufl.edu

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Students who are willing to think seriously about the most difficult problems in the modern condensed matter physics are always welcome to the group.
Contact: Dmitrii Maslov maslov@phys.ufl.edu

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Project: Data analysis of proton collision data from the CMS experiment at the LHC, including research on detectors, electronics, and advanced computing.
Contact: Darin Acosta acostad@ufl.edu or HEE group

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Title: Analysis of electron-positron annihilation data.
Project: We are members of the Belle and Belle II collaborations, that take data at the KEKB accelerator in Japan. Belle took the larget dataset ever taken in the 10 GeV energy range. Belle II is a revamped experiment, presently being commissioned, and designed to take advantage of an improved accelerator. It will be the premier facility at this energy. Much of our work is understanding the quark nature of hadrons, including finding new hadronic states (comprising quarks in some specific configuration) and measuring their masses, widths and decays precisely. The group at UF is one faculty, with one post-doc who will be based in Florida starting summer 2016. Students joining this group must be happy learning and using C++ programming as part of a large computer infrastructure, and being comfortable as part of an international collaboration.
Contact: John Yelton yelton@ufl.edu

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Title: Detection of gravitational waves with LIGO - Studies of gravitational waves with LIGO.
Project: We did it! LIGO detectors performed the first direct detection of gravitational waves from a merger of two black holes. The event dubbed GW150915 is a first direct proof of existence of black holes and that they can form binary systems. Such observations probe the physics driving the most violent astrophysical events in ways inaccessible to electromagnetic astronomy and have a potential to revolutionize our understanding of the universe. Construction of the U.S. Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) is complete. Within the next few years, when the detector design sensitivity is achieved, it is expected that the Advanced LIGO will make multiple detections of gravitational waves from astrophysical sources. Advanced LIGO, in partnership with the French-Italian Virgo detector, Kagra detector in Japan and the third LIGO instrument in India, will begin the exploration of the gravitational-wave sky and lay the foundations for a new kind of astronomy. A participant in LIGO for fifteen years, the UF group is a key contributor into searches for GW transients (bursts), such as collisions of binary compact objects, gamma ray bursts, asymmetric core collapse supernovae, etc. The UF group also leads the development of the coherent WaveBurst - the search algorithm that discovered the GW150915 signal, within three minutes it was recorded by the detectors. The proposed research is at the intersection of the astrophysics, general relativity, digital signal processing and computing, which will require young researchers to develop a deep knowledge of modern astrophysical theories, understanding of gravitational wave instrumentation, and gives them opportunity to get the first hand experience with sophisticated signal processing algorithms, computational methods, manipulation of large data sets and high performance computing. A new graduate student will work in collaboration with multinational teams of scientists and engineers, which will give him/her a reach experience and exposure to the diverse cultural approaches in conducting research and pursuing science. If you are interested in LIGO science and large scale data analysis, please, contact Prof. Sergey Klimenko.
Contact: Sergey Klimenko klimenko@phys.ufl.edu

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Title: Ultra-high sensitivity spin resonance spectroscopy in semiconductor quantum nanostructures We offer experimental research opportunities involving ultra-high sensitivity detection of magnetic resonance (nuclear and electronic) in semiconductor nanostructures.
Project 1: Nuclear spin systems are promising candidates for quantum information processing and storage due to the high density of nuclei in solids. This project involves the development of quantum confined semiconductor devices in which strain is dynamically controlled through the use of the piezoelectric effect. The design and optimization of these devices is guided by electronic band structure calculations performed in Prof. Chris Stantonís group (UF Physics), while experiments are performed in the Bowers lab. Induction of strain allows state-selective electronic excitation, allowing pure nuclear spin states to be realized. By combining piezo-induced strain and quantum confinement, a new paradigm for the manipulation of electronic and nuclear spin states in an integrated device will be demonstrated.
Project 2: Recently the effects of many-body correlations and spin-orbit coupling on electron spin resonance (ESR) have been theoretically predicted in the group of Prof. Dmitrii Maslov (UF Physics). The objective of this project is to design and fabricate appropriate semiconductor nanostructures, guided by theory, in which these effects can be readily observed and systematically characterized. Due to the small volumes enclosed in these nanostructures it is necessary to employ unconventional ultra-high sensitivity ESR detection techniques based on couplings to optical transitions or electronic transport. Part of this work may be performed at the National High Magnetic Field Lab in Tallahassee.
Contacts: Russ Bowers (bowers@chem.ufl.edu) or Chris Stanton (stanton@phys.ufl.edu)

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Title: Electric Field Effects on the Ferromagnetism of Dynamically Phase Separated Manganites
Project: The aim of this project is to investigate the properties of the dynamic phase separated state observed in the hole-doped manganite (La1-yPry)1-xCaxMnO3 with an emphasis on the effect of an electric field on the magnetic properties. The experiments are designed to: (1) ascertain the physical mechanism for the fluid-like behavior of the ferromagnetic regions in the dynamic phase separated state and hence, find the optimal conditions for producing such a state, (2) investigate the effect of electric field, strain, and sample geometry on the dynamic phase separated state, and (3) measure the effect of an electric field on the magnetic properties of (La1-yPry)1-xCaxMnO3. To investigate these phenomena high-quality thin films of (La1-yPry)1-xCaxMnO3 will be grown using pulsed laser deposition. The local and bulk properties of the thin films and fabricated micro/nanostructures will be studied using techniques such as low temperature conducting atomic force microscopy, spin-polarized neutron reflectometry, resistivity, and magnetization measurements. Graduate students will be trained in techniques such as pulsed laser thin film deposition systems, superconducting magnets, nanofabrication facilities, and scanning probe microscopes. This project is funded by NSF. Details can be found here: http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~amlan/research.html
Contact: Amlan Biswas, amlan@phys.ufl.edu

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Title: Precision environmental control of gene regulation in bacteria
Project: Our lab can offer a grant-funded research assistantship in the study of how bacterial gene regulatory circuits interact with their physical and chemical environment. The project is well suited for a student who has interdisciplinary interests that overlap physics and biology, and who has the desire to develop a diverse set of laboratory skills. The project involves design and fabrication of microfluidic devices for systems biology applications, fluorescence microscopy and image analysis of gene expression in living cells, growth and culture of bacteria, data analysis, computation and modeling in Matlab or similar, and occasional instrumentation or hardware design and development.
Contact: Prof. S. Hagen sjhagen@ufl.edu

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Title: Magnetolomics
Project: A variety of topics involving the study of molecule-based magnets, low dimensional materials, and materials processing and biological physics in high magnetic fields are studied. A brief overview.
Contact: Mark Meisel meisel@phys.ufl.edu

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Title: Axion detection with a light shining through walls experiment
Position: Research Assistantship
Project: We are part of the ALPS (https://alps.desy.de) collaboration and are seeking graduate students who would work on the development of the optical interferometry, data acquisition, and data analysis of this light-shining through walls experiment. The project includes R&D work at UF to develop the single photon heterodyne detection scheme as well as the seismic isolation and suspension systems to reduce all mechanical fluctuations of the optics. The main experiment is located at DESY in Hamburg, Germany, and is currently under construction. The student would have to work for some time at DESY (or, if interested, relocate to Germany for a few years). This research is funded by NSF and research assistantships are available. We also received funding to develop an experiment to measure vacuum birefringence; a difference in the velocity of light for two orthogonal polarizations in a strong magnetic field. This effect was calculated in the 1930ís by Heisenberg and others but has yet to be measured. Students come out of our interferometry group have been very successful finding postdoc positions at NASA, DESY, NIST, CalTech as well as well paid positions in private companies such as SpaceX. If you are interested, please contact Prof. Guido Mueller or Prof. David Tanner.
Contact: Guido Mueller mueller@phys.ufl.edu

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Title: DOE: A computational approach to complex interfaces and transport through nano-junctions
Project: This DOE/BES- Theoretical Condensed Matter funded project is to understand the fundamental physics underlying electron and spin transport through 1-3D junctions. We study structure, interface electronic and magnetic structure, charge doping, impurities, and external electric field. Examples include layered 2D crystals and graphene, molecular junctions, etc, which involve physics at nano-scale, meso-scale, and bulk limits. Our methods are based on first-principles density functional theory, scattering theory based transport method, nonequilibrium Greenís function techniques, and multi-scale hybrid ballistic-Boltzmann transport framework. Developing new algorithms and coding are also part of the project.
Contact: Hai-Ping Cheng hping@ufl.edu

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Title: NSF: Understanding and reducing thermal noise via atomistic simulations
Project: This NSF-physics funded research project is a computational oriented theoretical effort that aims to understand the physical origin of thermal noise in optical coating materials at the atomic level and provide guidance for optimal ratio of metallic elements in composite amorphous oxides (silica, titania, tantala, hafnia etc). Thermal noise that is caused by atomic movement at finite temperature affects the performance of ultra high-resolution interferometers such as the laser interferometer employed in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Improving dielectric coatings and reducing thermal noise have applications in many high precision optical measurements far beyond LIGO, such as time and frequency measurements, measurements of the equivalence principle, and many others. This project is part of LIGO Research Collaboration (LSC).
Contact: Hai-Ping Cheng hping@ufl.edu

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Title: Exploring multi-functional molecular electronic materials
Project: This project is funded by the Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future Program of the Division of Chemistry and the Division of Materials Research. We study how to make magnetic materials with some of the smallest dimensions possible. Magnetic materials are important for the electronics industry and the ongoing trend towards miniaturization of devices, has made the development of ever-smaller magnets essential. The team led by Cheng consists three UF professor (Christou in Chemistry and Zhang in Physics) demonstrated from first-principles calculations that the quantum capacitance of a small molecule or nanocluster depends upon its magnetic or geometric configuration. We use advanced computational methods to predict which structures will yield the optimal magnetic properties and we are also studying ways to attach the single-molecule magnets to a surface to introduce certain effects crucial to the potential use of these materials in new technologies.
Contact: Hai-Ping Cheng hping@ufl.edu

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Project: There is a research opportunity for a beginning graduate student in an ongoing project using NMR techniques to study small quantum clusters of (H2, HD, 3He) in mesoporous structures. The current experiment is examining the dynamics of clusters of HD and CH4 molecules on the quasi-1D nanostructure MCM-41. The interest in these studies is that the small clusters of atoms (or molecules) are inside the thermal de Broglie wavelength and therefore fully quantized.
Contact: Neil Sullivan sullivan@phys.ufl.edu

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Title: Search for Dark Matter with the SuperCDMS experiment
Project: There is one position available for work on the SuperCDMS experiment. The projects specifically focus on

-Modeling the microscopical physical process driving the SuperCDMS detector response with the Geant monte-carlo simulation. This will provide feed back to the analysis of the experimental data and will impact the final scientific reach of the detectors. This project bridges the areas of low temperature condensed matter physics and particle physics.
- Modeling the response of the SuperCDMS detector to very low energy neutron interactions with the Geant monte-carlo simulation. This will provide feedback to the design of a proposed experiment that will determine the response of the detectors to dark matter like interactions in a (as of yet) unexplored energy range. Both project will lead to direct involvement in the analysis of the SuperCDMS dark matter data as well as participation in the construction and commissioning of the followup experiment.
Contact: Tarek Saab tsaab@ufl.edu

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Title: Detection of gravitational waves with LIGO.
Project: The scientific community is eagerly awaiting a watershed moment in 21st century physics: the first direct detection of gravitational waves. Gravitational-wave observations will probe the physics driving the most violent astrophysical events in ways inaccessible to electromagnetic astronomy. These observations have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the universe. Construction of the U.S. Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) is almost complete. Within the next few years, when the detector design sensitivity is achieved, it is expected that the Advanced LIGO will make the first detections of gravitational waves from astrophysical sources. Advanced LIGO, in partnership with the French-Italian Virgo detector, will begin the exploration of the gravitational-wave sky and lay the foundations for a new kind of astronomy.

A participant in LIGO for fifteen years, the UF group is a key contributor into searches for GW transients (bursts), such as collisions of binary compact objects, gamma ray bursts, asymmetric core collapse supernovae, etc. The UF group also leads the development of the coherent WaveBurst - the main search algorithm used by LIGO for the burst analysis. The proposed research is at the intersection of the astrophysics, general relativity, digital signal processing and computing, which will require young researchers to develop a deep knowledge of modern astrophysical theories, understanding of gravitational wave instrumentation, and gives them opportunity to get the first hand experience with sophisticated signal processing algorithms, computational methods, manipulation of large data sets and high performance computing. A new graduate student will work in collaboration with multinational teams of scientists and engineers, which will give him/her a reach experience and exposure to the diverse cultural approaches in conducting research and pursuing science. If you are interested in LIGO science and large scale data analysis, please, contact Prof. Sergey Klimenko.
Contact: Sergey Klimenko klimenko@phys.ufl.edu

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