Updated on August 1, 2019
Jesse Berezovsky: A Condensed Matter Experimentalist, much of my work is motivated by possible quantum computing and primarily concerns the behavior of optically excited spins near defects and in quantum nano-structures. I am also interested in acoustics.
Robert Brown (updated 5/6/2019): An imaging / industrial / medical / particle physicist, I am also interested in science education.
Ed Caner An Entrepreneurial Physicist, I run the Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Programs (STEP) program. I sometimes advise or co-advise students who have projects related to entrepreneurial goals and may also be able to help you connect with other advisers related to industrial or entrepreneurial projects.
Gary Chottiner (updated 8/1/2019): A Condensed Matter Experimentalist, my interests include thin films, surfaces and the ultrahigh vacuum techniques required to study them. I am particularly interested in physics important to energy generation and storage.
As the instructor-of-record for PHYS 351/2/3, I can also help students who wish to pursue a project of their own design that is not closely related to the research interests of department faculty. Such projects should have a connection to physics, but almost everything does. My assistance might take the form of helping you identify a research mentor with appropriate expertise or, failing that, supervising your effort directly.
My research laboratory is in a bit of disarray because of a recent move and it might not be possible to support the projects described below.
1. Understanding the properties and behavior of lithium is of great importance in developing better battery storage systems for a variety of purposes, and it’s often the surface rather than the bulk of the lithium component that matters in these applications. Unfortunately, a truly clean lithium surface is extraordinarily difficult to create and sustain due to lithium’s high reactivity. Our lab (G. Chottiner + D. Scherson of the Dept. of Chemistry) has experience in this area and may hold the record for the cleanest lithium surface ever reported. This project will employ the ultra-high vacuum (UHV) system in Rockefeller 314 (and perhaps other UHV systems on campus) to compare various methods of producing a clean lithium surface, including ion sputtering a solid Li disk and evaporating Li from a thermally heated source. We’ll then investigate how the surface evolves when it is intentionally contaminated with simple molecules such as nitrogen and oxygen, and possibly more complex molecules that are used in the manufacture of Li batteries.
2. One of the more useful experimental techniques in surface science is Temperature Programmed Desorption, TPD. A mass spectrometer is used to monitor gasses that leave a surface as a sample is heated. TPD can be used to measure the binding energy of atoms or molecules to a surface (a quantity that is critically important but difficult to measure in any other way) and, with the help of isotopically labeled gases, the reactions that can occur when molecules and atoms interact with each other on a surface. One can’t simply purchase a TPD apparatus, it has to be constructed from individual components and the software has to be written to control the experiment and analyze the data. Our research group has experience in this area but doesn’t currently have a fully operational TPD system. The student who takes on this project will continue development of a TPD system started by a senior project student AY 2012-2013 and use it to examine a variety of scientifically and technologically interesting problems.
Corbin Covault: An Astrophysicis Experimentalist, my primary interests are in high energy cosmic rays including the Pierre-Auger Observatory that detects them.
Our group is active in experimental research in High Energy Astrophysics. Our major experimental effort is on the Pierre Auger Observatory which includes data collection from the completed Auger South (in Argentina) and R&D in anticipation of Auger North (to be deployed in southeastern Colorado) We are also active in two minor projects (XOSS and OSETI). Information can be found on the HEA group web page: http://hea.case.edu/ . What all these efforts have in common is (a) they involve looking for rapid flashes of light with photomultiplier tubes, and (b) each involves extensive collaboration with scientists and students within our group and among other groups. Senior projects in our group will be developed around one of these five efforts, typically with both instrumentation and software (analysis or simulation) components.
Possible senior projects include optical calibration studies, timing measurements with GPS equipment, cosmic ray shower simulations, and detector prototyping. Our group attracts a number of undergraduates with at least eight senior projects in the past four years. There are also some opportunities for projects in distributed computing and physics education research.
Pavel Fileviez Perez (updated 5/3/2019): Particle Physics and Cosmology, Physics beyond the Standard Model, Dark Matter and Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry in the Universe, New Physics at Colliders, Unification of Fundamental Forces, Supersymmetric Theories and others
– Dark Matter: the study of different dark matter candidates, axions, weakly interacting massive particles and others.
– Neutrino Physics: Investigate the origin of neutrino masses, the study of new neutrino interactions and others
– Baryon Asymmetry in the Universe: Investigate different mechanisms to explain the baryon asymmetry in the Universe
– Formal aspects of field theory.
Xuan Gao: A Condensed Matter Experimentalist, I am interested in the synthesis and characterization of a variety of bulk and nanoscopic materials, including transparent conductors, topological insulators and nanoscopic systems for the sensitive detection of biological materials.
Suspended Nanowire Electro-Mechanical Devices
Nanoelectromechanical-systems or NEMS are sub-micron devices where the electronic characteristics are integrated with the mechanical behavior. Developing NEMS with high quality factor will allow novel devices and new tools for sensing and studying minuscular forces/displacements. In this project we will construct a NEMS device with suspended nanowire with diameter as small as 10nm. The resonant modes and quality factor of the suspended nanowire beam will be studied through electrical characterization of device at high frequencies.
Large Scale Graphene Transistor Arrays
Graphene, a single atomic sheet of carbon atoms, was recently isolated from graphite and received tremendous interest in electronics applications. The widely used mechanical exfoliation method of graphene, however, is uncontrolled and not useful for manufacturing large scale electronics. We will explore various contact printing methods for constructing large scale graphene transistor arrays. The goal is to achieve few-layer or single layer graphene transistor arrays on centimeter size silicon wafer with high yield.
Nanowire Transistors for DNA Sensing
Nanowires are emerging as novel materials for device applications. In this project we will employ nanowire transistors as sensors for biomolecule detection. The specific goal is to achieve highly sensitive and sequence specific detection of single strand DNAs. We will synthesize nanowires through a ‘bottom up’ (chemistry-based) approach and fabricate nanowire transistors using lithography techniques. Both physical adsorption and covalent bonding will be explored to attach probe peptide nucleic acid (PNA) onto nanowire surface to capture the target DNA. Electrical measurement of the nanowire transistor will be used to detect and study DNA hybridization. Effects like base mismatch between probe and target strands and charge screening in ionic solutions will be investigated as DNAs hybridize/dehybridze on nanowire surface. Students will gain experience in several research areas including material chemistry, nano-electronics, and biophysics.
Nanowire Spin-electronic Devices
Conventional electronic devices use the charge of flowing electrons to realize computation and information processing. The concept of incorporating the spin degree of freedom of electrons into the device functionality opened up a new area termed ‘spin-electronics’ (or ‘spintronics’). Much attention of forefront spintronics research has been focused on how to create and control spin polarized current in semiconductors. Recently, researchers have achieved some success in doing so in bulk or thin-films of semiconductors. In this project, we will first investigate if one can electrically create and detect spin polarized current in semiconductor nanowires by contacting nanowires with ferromagnetic metal. We will then study if an external gate voltage can be used to control the spin polarization of current to realize the ‘spin-transistor’, the most fundamental spintronic-device which has yet to be demonstrated.
Michael Hinczewski: A Biophysics and Soft Condensed Matter Theorist, I am interested in the interactions of biopolymers such as proteins and force microscopy as a probe thereof. Previous Previous Projects Supervised Research Website
Kathleen Kash (updated 5/6/2019): A Condensed Matter Experimentalist, I am interested in figuring out how to grow new materials, particularly complex novel nitride semiconductors, and how their increased complexity can change their properties in unexpected and useful ways.
The binary III-V semiconductors GaN, InN and AlN and their alloys, so-called because one of the constituent elements has valence III, the other valence V, are responsible for the revolution in lighting technology, and the award for the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. The much larger, and intimately related, family of ternary II-IV-nitride semiconductors like, for example, ZnGeN2, are much less well-studied, but recent research is starting to reveal some unique properties of these newer materials. Possible projects could include developing new ways to grow an entirely new ternary or even quaternary nitride semiconductor, or improving on growth methods we have already developed in my laboratory. Other possible projects could include measuring the optical properties of these materials and new materials grown by collaborators to understand electronic processes—how electrons excited by photon absorption lose their energy. A computational project to calculated the energy levels and optical properties of ultrashort-period, random super-lattices may be available.
Lydia Kisley (updated 5/3/2019): Experimental biophysics, soft condensed matter physics, microscopy, interfacial/surface science, nanoscience, physical chemistry/chemical physics, signal processing, and image analysis.
Prof. Kisley is supervising three senior projects in the 2019 – 2020 academic year and will not be supervising any additional projects.
Walter Lambrecht: A Theoretical and Computational Condensed Matter Physicist, I am interested in modeling a variety of materials and materials properties using quantum mechanical approaches, ranging from semiconductors and defects to magnetic materials. Some projects focus on specific materials, others on methods development.
Michael A. Martens: Primarily a Medical Imaging Physicist, I am interested in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and a variety of other magnetic imaging modalities. I have also worked in Experimental Particle Physics and will consider supervising a range of projects in experimental physics. I also co-advise projects with other faculty members interested in Magnetic Resonance
Please come talk to me. I have wide interests in Experimental Physics and particularly Magnetic Resonance techniques.
Harsh Mathur (updated 5/3/2019): A theorist with interests in both Astrophysics and Condensed Matter Physics, I have a broad-ranging interests, including effects of modified gravity, topological insulators and excitons and other bound states in condensed matter and high energy physics.
Prof. Mathur is committed to one senior project in the 2019 – 2020 academic year and is unlikely to commit to a second project.
1) Nonlinear quantum mechanics: Weinberg has proposed a generalization of quantum mechanics in which the Schrodinger equation is non-linear. The purpose of this project is to determine whether such a non-linear theory is incompatible with the other principles of quantum mechanics. [Reference: Steven Weinberg, Physical Review Letters 62, 485 (1989)].
2) Dirac equation on the surface of a sphere: The purpose of this project is to analyze the energy levels of a particle governed by the Dirac equation and confined to the surface of a sphere. Due to the curvature of the sphere and Berry’s phase it is conjectured that the particle will move as though there were a magnetic monopole at the origin. These results should be relevant to surface states of topological insulators and buckyballs. [Reference: For closely related work see A. Vishvanath, Physical Review Letters 105, 206601 (2010)].
3) Non-commutative quantum mechanics: Do the x and y components of the position of a particle commute? Some models of fundamental physics posit that they do not. A simple model with this behavior is strong magnetic field and a smooth electric potential. Classically such a particle undergoes an epicyclic motion whereby the particle moves rapidly in a circle about a guiding center whilst the guiding center slowly drifts along equipotential lines. An effective quantum theory would focus on the motion of the guiding center alone. Such an effective theory has a twist that the guiding center co-ordinates do not commute. The purpose of this project is to analyze the energy levels of a hydrogen atom in a magnetic field using the non-commutative effective theory.
4) Self-Adjoint extensions of a linear potential: The purpose of this project is to analyze the energy levels of a particle bound by a linear potential. Such a situation might be considered a crude caricature of quarks confined in a meson. In this project we will focus on possible ambiguities in the boundary conditions that must be imposed at the origin and the effect of these ambiguities on the energy levels of the model.
5) Granular matter: statistical mechanics far from equilibrium. How does stress distribute in a pack of beads to which a uniform load has been applied. A proper theoretical understanding of this basic problem is lacking. The q-model provides a good first approximate solution to the problem and is remarkably tractable. A number of exact results about the model are known, some of them first obtained by my undergraduate collaborators and myself [Lewandowska, Mathur and Yu, Physical Review E64, 026107 (2001); St. John and Mathur, submitted to Physical Review E, (2011)]. Many additional results appear attainable and remain to be worked out.
6) Factorization of non-hermitian Hamiltonians: The simple harmonic oscillator is a familiar example of a quantum mechanical Hamiltonian that is soluble by factorization into a pair of raising and lowering operators. In the 1940s Infeld discovered that a variety of common Hamiltonians can be factorized analogously. Recently there has been some interest in non-hermitian Hamiltonians with real eigenvalues. The purpose of this project is to generalize Infeld’s construction to such non-Hermitian models.
I work on quantum condensed matter physics, cosmology and particle astrophysics. Some of my representative publications may be found on the department website.
More can be found by searching at arxiv.org. A senior project with me would likely build on one of these projects; the specific project would be worked out in consultation with the student.
Benjamin Monreal (updated 5/3/2019): a nuclear, particle, and astro experimentalist. My lab is working on new detector technologies for future neutrino and dark-matter detectors; on solving engineering problems of giant optical telescopes; and on miscellaneous astroparticle phenomenology simulations and data analysis.
Projects Offered: A hands-on lab senior project might involve designing, fabricating (possibly 3D-printing), and testing some new structures which could be used to amplify tiny electron signals in a gas proportional counter; there is a chance that an astronomical optics project is available. An engineering-design-oriented project might involve (if you have MechE interests) design of large telescope hardware components to try to meet thermal, vibration, or strain specifications; electrical, civil, or aerospace-centric design projects can also be imagined. A software/simulation/data-analysis-oriented project might be writing a GEANT simulation of a large particle detector; or running an optical simulation package to analyze a telescope’s adaptive optics limitations; or possibly astronomical data analysis.
Charles Rosenblatt:A Condensed Matter Experimentalist, I am interested in liquid crystals, including symmetry and interfacial properties, as well as phase transitions. Much of our work is done at the nanoscopic level, often involving nanoparticle inclusions. I am also interested in fluid dynamics studied by means magnetic levitation, particularly its application in the study of fluid interface instabilities.
Soft Condensed Matter Physics
We study (sexy*) symmetry and electro and magnetooptic properties of liquid crystals, polymers, micelles, and other “soft” materials; their phases and phase transitions, interactions with nanopatterned surfaces and with nanoparticles, and use in devices. Possible projects include nanoscopic control of surfaces for fundamental studies of elastic behavior on very short length scales and for device applications, properties of liquid crystal / nanoparticle mixtures, and creation of controlled topological defect arrays. Additionally, projects may involve the role of chiral symmetry on the liquid crystal’s physical properties, including electric polarizations at an interface that arise because of symmetry considerations.
*This is to catch your attention
Simulated zero and partial gravity
We have been using magnetic levitation techniques to study the property of fluids in gravitational environments ranging from 1g down to 0g. Moreover, we can control the effective gravitational force with time, i.e., introduction of a time-varying force. Possible projects include the study of acceleration-driven fluid-fluid interface instabilities, the study of fluid flow through randomly-packed colloids, how the flow rate varies with gravity and with time, pinning and depinning behavior, and the effects of a time-varying gravitational force.
John Ruhl: An Astrophysics Experimentalist, I study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), primarily small angle and polarization (B-mode) correlations in the CMB. I use radiotelescopes, either near the south pole, or carried on balloons.
Ken Singer: A Condensed Matter Experimentalist, I am interested in the linear and non-linear optical behavior of a variety of materials, including high density information storage in layered polymer systems and nanoscopically assembled biological systems. I also study organic semiconductors for transistors and solar cells and how nanoscopic materials can improve their efficiency.
Solar Energy: Next Generation Photovoltaic Materials
Polymers are currently receiving intense interest as the next generation materials for solar energy conversion. My group is investigating the optical and electronic properties of these new materials. Potential senior projects on this topic include studies of charge mobility in new self-assembling polymer blends, imaging studies of nanoscale morphology using 3-D tomographic electron microscopy and nonlinear optical near-field imaging, and studies of optical trapping and power conversion efficiency in ultrathin polymer blend films. Students will carry out optical and electronic measurements and fabricate structures in our new solar cell fabrication laboratory.
Nonlinear Optical Materials
Nonlinear optical materials have a number of current and future applications such as tunable lasers, optical data storage, optical computing, etc. We are looking into new polymeric and organic materials for these applications and are working on studying mechanisms and materials for nonlinear optics. Potential senior projects include studies of nonlinear optical responses in new materials, optical second harmonic generation in multilayer polymer films, nonlinear absorption and intensity dependent refractive index measurements. These are all laser experiments using widely tunable pulsed lasers in the Organic Optoelectronics laboratory.
Glenn Starkman: An Astrophysics / Particle Physics Theorist, I have a variety of interests, including theoretical analysis of the Cosmic Microwave Background to understand if the universe is truly infinite or if it has a non-trivial topology.
Stimulated Emission in Metamaterials
Metals, which are essential for many metamaterials unfortunately absorb light. Projects are available that will study how to compensate for these losses using simulated emission from organic dyes or semiconductor nanoparticles.
The evanescent waves in some metamaterials can result in the reflection from one surface of a metamaterial being dramatically sensitive to the properties of the other surface. Projects are available to make and characterize such sensors.
Philip Taylor (updated 5/3/2019): A Condensed Matter theorist I am interested in a variety of things, including batteries and fuel cells, as well as other topics, partly described in as Projects offered.
Prof. Taylor is now on ‘half-time’ and no longer supervising senior projects.