IU Summer REU Research Projects in the Department of Physics
Here are a few examples of potential REU research projects based in the Department of Physics at Swain Hall West.
AstrophysicsSee Molecular Dynamics of Neutron Star Crust
Neural Networks and Dynamical Systems
Prof. John Beggs, Physics
Visual Information Processing
Prof. Rob de Ruyter, PhysicsVision in animals, including humans, is based on an ongoing interpretation of optical signals gathered by the eye, and the physical properties of these highly complex signals put fundamental limits on visual information processing. With this in mind, using the blowfly as our model system, we study how a real organism processes visual signals. We record signals from photoreceptors that convert light into electrical signals and from neurons deep in the visual brain that are sensitive to moving visual patterns. We also study visually guided behavior in a specially developed flight tracker system. The fly uses adaptive computational strategies to cope with the complexity of the visual input data stream, and we try to understand these strategies on a quantitative basis, hoping to uncover fundamental principles of biological computation. Prof. De Ruyter joined the IU faculty in 2003 and has supervised three REU students and one IU undergraduate.
Controlled Synthesis and Characterization of Nanostructured Topological Crystalline Insulators
Prof. Shixiong ZhangTopological crystalline insulators (TCIs) are a novel class of quantum materials that have unique metallic states on their surfaces. These surface states form a new type of high mobility chiral electron gas that is topologically protected against disorder. The TCIs are different from conventional topological insulators in the sense that they have an even number of surface Dirac cones instead of only one and their topological surface states are protected by the mirror symmetry of the crystal in contract to the time-reversal symmetry. Such materials are expected to have potential applications in several fields, including tunable electronics and spintronics. The REU students will perform bottom up synthesis of various types of TCI nanostructures and carry out nano-scale characterization of the physical properties. This project will provide students unique opportunities to participate in highly innovative and cutting-edge researches in the areas of condensed matter physics, materials science and nanotechnology. Prof. Zhang mentored one REU student before he joined the IU faculty.
Topological States of Matter
Prof. Babak SeradjehIn the past decade, the theory and experimental promise of topologically ordered states has been greatly expanded beyond the paradigmatic quantum Hall effect, leading to the discovery of several families of two- and three-dimentional topological insulators and candidate topological superconductors. The electrons in these systems are inert in the bulk, yet cost vanishingly little energy to excite at the system boundaries or inside bulk defects. These topological "zero modes" are typically governed by the Dirac equation, leading to some spectacular properties, such as half-integer charge fractionalization, quantized magneto-electric effect, emergent magnetic monopoles, and nonlocal entanglement. The student in this project will investigate aspects of model topological insulators and superconductors by employing analytical and simple numerical methods using Mathematica or Matlab, or coding in C/C++/Fortran. The problems are designed to understand the fundamental principles governing the system, their connection to experiments, and potential applications and architectures for novel devices. The student will become familiar with relevant experiments, will learn the underlying concepts and a selection of theoretical techniques, including exact diagonalization, field theoretic, variational and perturbative methods.
Wave Propagation in Novel Structures
Elementary Particle Experiment
The NOvA Neutrino Oscillation Experiment
Prof. Mark Messier, PhysicsNOvA will measure the muon-to-electron neutrino oscillation using both neutrinos and anti-neutrinos. The anti-neutrino measurements are made possible by Fermilab’s ability to produce very intense beams and as part of NOvA we will be working to increase the intensity of the lab’s proton source. By measuring both neutrinos and anti-neutrinos NOvA will help to answer some basic questions about neutrinos and the universe. Students will develop and test event reconstruction software and use the standard tools of high energy physics to simulate detector performance and analyze events from the prototype detector. Prof. Messier has supervised four REU students in the past seven years.
Search for New Particles in the ATLAS Detector at the LHC
Dr. Daria Zieminska, PhysicsThe students will work on research projects related to the detection of new particles in the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. Recent projects include: "Improving Event Selection in Top-Anti-Top Reconstruction" and "A Signature Of New Physics: Determining Missing Energy In The Atlas Detector." Dr. Zieminska has supervised three REU students in the past three years.
Vector and Scalar Bosons at D0 and ATLAS
Prof. Sabine Lammers, PhysicsStudents will analyze event data using software tools that are standard in particle physics, be able to present their work to other ATLAS scientists, and write up their results in a format that could be included in publication. The analysis of the data they collect will allow the students to acquire many of the skills they will need to succeed in PhD research in any field. Prof. Lammers joined the Department in 2008 and has mentored one REU student.
Elementary Particle Theory
Supersymmetric quantum mechanics
Prof. Mike Berger, PhysicsThe concept of supersymmetry has been applied to quantum mechanics to obtain relationships between potentials with similar spectra. The idea is closely connected to the method of Hamiltonian factorization. The REU project will involve studying the extension of these concepts to multiparticle Hamiltonians where multiple supersymmetries can be at play.
Theoretical Studies of Relativity Tests
Dr. Ralf Lehnert, PhysicsSpecial relativity (SR) is one of the most basic and best confirmed theories physics. However, recent theoretical ideas in the context of new models beyond established physics suggest that there may, in fact, be the possibility of small departures from SR. Such hypothetical deviations from SR would affect many physical systems, such as the relation between energy and momentum for free particles. Predictions of this type can be employed for ultra-sensitive experimental tests of SR. This project involves modeling such deviations from SR with the goal to identify possible high-precision relativity tests. The prerequisites for research along these lines include an elementary knowledge of SR and basic undergraduate electrodynamics and quantum mechanics.
IU Summer REU Research Projects at the Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter/Nuclear Theory Center
Here are a few examples of potential REU research projects based at the Indiana University Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter.
Low Energy Neutron Source (LENS)
Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) Studies of Nanostructured Materials
Prof. David Baxter, Physics and CEEMThe presence of the LENS facility within the department offers a number of unique opportunities for undergraduate research on materials. Prof. Baxter has particular interest in the SANS technique which probes the mesoscopic structure of materials (length scales from 1 to 100 nm), and in studying hydrogenous materials that may be suitable for improved neutron moderators through neutron transmission experiments. With both techniques it is possible to introduce students to the fundamentals, collect data on several samples, and complete the analysis of suitable samples within a period of 5 to 8 weeks. Specific projects we envision pursuing with students supported by this grant include neutron transmission of materials that may be used in future very cold neutron (VCN). Publication of these data is eagerly anticipated by the VCN community as these data are needed for testing new simulation codes for future source design. SANS projects of interest include geological samples (clays and coals), bone, and nanoparticles ranging from virus capside surrounding magnetic nanoparticles to molecular-sized graphene sheets (produced by colleagues in Chemistry).
Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Chemistry Experiment
Many Body Nuclear Dynamics
Design of control systems and vibration isolation for neutron interferometry
Prof. Mike Snow, Physics and CEEMIn this project you would participate in a design project to develop a concept for a neutron interferometer to be used in searches for "chameleon fields" which are a possible solution to the dark energy problem. These interferometers employ neutron diffraction from perfect silicon crystals as coherent beamsplitters and recombiners. They are extremely sensitive to thermal fluctuations, vibration, and acoustic noise. Your task would be to evaluate the requirements needed to be able to realize such an interferometer using perfect crystals and reduce vibrational noise in a granite optical table that we plan to use to mount the crystals on. In the course of this project you woudl learn about the principles of interferometry, dark energy theories, vibration isolation, and mechanical stability.
Development of nonmagnetic test masses and motion systems for fifth force searches
Profs. Mike Snow and Prof. Josh Long, Physics and CEEMIn these projects you would work on preparing test masses with special magnetic properties. These test masses would be used in experimental searches for exotic spin-dependent ultraweak forces of nature which might be a consequence of string theory or other beyond the Standard Model theories. We have many experiments in progress which use polarized slow neutrons, polarized nuclei, and polarized electrons. Many of the experiments also require us to move these test masses nonmagnetically in tricky ways. In the course of this project you would learn about the magnetic properties of matter and about various principles of precision measurement and clever experimental hardware design.
Neutrino Oscillations and Interactions
Prof. Rex Tayloe, IU Physics and CEEMProf. Tayloe works on neutrino oscillations and interactions. The students will work on neutrino detector development. For example, an optical fiber/liquid scintillator detector is under construction and is available to investigate neutrinos from nuclear reactors or neutrons from radioactive materials. A recent project was titled A Large-Volume, High Resolution Scintillation Detector for Monitoring of Thermal Power of a Nuclear Reactor.
Nuclear Physics Theory
Studies of Quark Pair Creation in the Gluon Field
Prof. Adam Szczepaniak, Physics and Nuclear Theory CenterThe student will study properties of quark-gluon interactions in Quantum Chromodynamics formulated as a many-body, Hamiltonian system with physical degrees of freedom. The student will investigate the distribution of energy density in presence of quark and antiquark sources and its connection with phenomenological models of hadrons. Professor Szczepaniak has supervised five REU students working on theoretical projects in the past six years.