Physics 499 Special Projects

Our PHYS 499 Special Projects course is intended for upper year students, usually in the last year of a Specialization or Honours program in Physics. You have the opportunity to work individually on a project in an area of interest to you, under the supervision of a department professor. Often the one-term project is directly related to the professor’s own research area, and the project could be theoretical or experimental.

You may take PHYS 499 in either Fall term or Winter term, and you may take it more than once provided each project is on a different topic. To find a project, if you have an idea of a topic you are interested in pursuing, you may contact a professor working in that area - check the Physics website under Research Areas to see what various professors are working on and to find their contact information.  Or you could take a look at the list of possible projects that various professors have submitted. If there is a project on the list that interests you, you can then contact that professor to discuss the project in more detail.

NOTE: CHECK BACK REGULARLY ON THE LIST OF PROJECTS, BECAUSE IT WILL BE BE UPDATED PERIODICALLY AS MORE PROJECTS ARE SUBMITTED.

Because PHYS 499 is closed to web registration, you must contact the Department Undergraduate Advisor to be registered. If you have any questions about PHYS 499, please do contact the Undergraduate Advisor.

List of Possible Projects

Project Title:

What does the electron band mass have to do with the free electron mass?

Description:

Electrons behave in solids in ways that can be very different from free electrons. On the other hand, when the solid is a metal, i.e. the electrons can move about to conduct electricity, then the electron often behaves very much like a free electron, except that it has an effective (i.e. ``band’’) mass which can be very different from the free electron (i.e. ``bare’’) mass. In this project the student will study just how the original bare mass influences the band mass, and in what limits it plays no role.

Offering:

Available for either term

Contact:

Dr. Frank Marsiglio, CCIS 3-179, fm3@ualberta.ca

Project Title:

Electron Correlations in Metals and Superconductors

Description:

The undergraduate curriculum in quantum mechanics consists mostly of studies of particles interacting with external potentials. I have in mind a number of projects, generally involving particles (electrons) interacting with one another; this leads to novel states of matter, like superconductivity, magnetism, etc. There are various theoretical approaches, spanning the simplest (quantum mechanics) to the more sophisticated (several many-body formalisms), and projects utilizing either of those will be available. A simple example is a periodic potential with spin-orbit coupling. The presence of spin-orbit coupling in certain lattice types results in exotic phenomena like topological insulators and topological superconductivity. This project will equip a student to understand some of these phenomena in a simple way. Another example is the phenomenon of Anderson Localization due to the presence of defects.

Offering:

Available for either term

Contact:

Dr. Frank Marsiglio, CCIS 3-179, fm3@ualberta.ca

Project Title:

Search For Quantum Gravity At The Large Hadron Collider

Description:

Various ideas have been presented to reformulate gravity by considering the familiar Planck constant of classical gravity as an effective scale derived from the fundamental scale of quantum gravity which is similar in magnitude to the other scales in particle physics. If true, this would make gravity strong at this new scale and would allow gravity to be formulated as a particle field theory on par with the other interactions of particle physics. In such a quantum regime of gravity a new fundamental particle, the graviton, could be produced in particle interactions. The graviton is considered the propagator of the gravitational force on par with the photon, intermediate vector bosons, and gluons of particle physics. The collision energies provided by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory in Geneva could be close enough to the quantum gravity scale to allow the production of gravitons. It is believed that the graviton would interact too weakly to be detected in the ATLAS or CMS detectors at the LHC. The resulting graviton signature would thus be a large imbalance in energy in particle collision events. A student working on this project will help develop a model for massless graviton production in strong interactions within the framework of low-scale quantum gravity. The studies will be performed using Monte Carlo simulation programs. This study will be challenging but should be a rewarding experience for the student.

Offering:

Winter 2018

Contact:

Dr. Douglas Gingrich, gingrich@ualberta.ca

Project Title:

AI approach to space and laboratory plasma diagnostics

Description:

Estimates of plasma parameters made in situ with satellites or in laboratory experiments are often inferred from low level probe measurements interpreted on the basis of idealised theories. Unfortunately these estimates are known to come with substantial uncertainties, because theoretical estimates on which they are based do not account for many of the actual conditions under which measurements are made. A better approach is to base the interpretation of these low level measurements on detailed kinetic simulations capable of accounting for the actual conditions and physical parameters of the experiments, such as the geometry, the presence of a magnetic field, ion composition, and the proximity to other physical objects. Such simulations however, tend to be computationally very intensive, and it is not practical to use them to interpret measurements in real time. One possible approach is then to construct a library of simulation results from which plasma parameters can be obtained from regressions. The project would consist of using results from selected kinetic simulations to construct such a library, and use it to infer plasma parameters from regression techniques. This could be accomplished with empirical analytic expressions, or deep learning neural networks. Interested students should have experience in computer programming. A working knowledge of Python would be a good asset.

Offering:

Winter 2018

Contact:

Dr. Richard Marchand, rmarchan@ualberta.ca

Project Title:

Heating the stars

Description:

Some stars, if in close binaries, evolve through a common envelope phase, where another star enters the envelope of the first expanded star and effectively heats it up. The various interesting things may happen to that heated star. A student is to do exploratory runs for the stars of various masses using MESA and existing expansion code for MESA to 1D common envelope. The student must take Stellar Astro 2 course in the Fall term, where he is to learn how to run MESA, and demonstrate that he/she is comfortable with MESA.

Offering:

Winter 2018

Contact:

Dr. Natalia Ivanova, nata.ivanova@ualberta.ca