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.
Kinematics of Nearby Galaxies
Prof. Liese vanZee, Astronomy
Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Experimental Quantum Information Processing
Prof. Phil Richerme, Physics
Engineering Long-Range Interactions Between Ultracold Atoms
Prof. Brian Desalvo, Physics
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. We 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.
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. 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 nanoscale characterization of the physical properties. This project will provide students unique opportunities to participate in of condensed matter physics, materials science and nanotechnology.
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.
Elementary Particle Experiment
The NOvA Neutrino Oscillation Experiment
Prof. Mark Messier, PhysicsNOvA studies the muon-to-electron neutrino oscillation using both neutrinos and anti-neutrinos. Students will help to develop and test event reconstruction software and use the standard tools of high energy physics to simulate detector performance, analyze events from the detector, and test ideas for improvements or enhancements to the existing detectors.
Elementary Particle Theory
Prof. Mike Berger, PhysicsThe introduction of an interaction for dark energy to the standard cosmology offers a potential solution to the cosmic coincidence problem, a scheme for introducing a holographic foundation for dark energy, as well as the possibility of giving a unified description of early inflation and present accelerated expansion of the Universe. Students perform analytical work as well as numerical simulations to investigate possible physical choices for the behavior of dark matter in the Friedmann-Robertson-Walker framework. The goal is to obtain a good fit to the observational data supporting an accelerating Universe, and a successful model would represent a possible alternative interpretation of the expansion history of the Universe.
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
Exotic spin-dependent interactions
Prof. Mike Snow, Physics and CEEMProf. Snow has conducted a number of tabletop experiments to search for possible exotic spin-dependent interactions of nature that are predicted in certain string theories. This work concentrates on interactions with ranges between millimeters and microns. The small scale of these experiments makes it possible to involve students in the experiments at the hardware level, and students are able to complete a coherent project during the summer. Students design key instrument components using Inventor and test them in the labs at CEEM before they are deployed at national laboratories such as LANSCE, SNS, and the NIST reactor.