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 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 contact the Undergraduate Advisor.

List of Possible Projects

Exploring single vortices in thin-film superconductors

The Davis lab has developed an optomechanical torque sensor that can operate nearly at the standard quantum level of sensitivity. Our goal is to use this sensor to study individual superconducting vortices in real time. But first, we need to deposit and characterize superconducting thin films to decide which to integrate into these torque sensors. That's where you come in. You will learn to deposit superconducting samples in the nanoFAB and characterize them at temperatures below 1 K.You will optimize their deposition so that we can achieve the characteristics we desire for the measurements and then work with a senior group member on integration into their devices.These kinds of skills are directly applicable to superconduting quantum processors, for example, giving you real-world experience. We are also a really fun group and you will enjoy becoming a part of the team.

Availability: Fall 2021
Contact: Dr. John Davis,

Electromagnetic wave propagation in inhomogeneous plasmas

Lasers can deliver and deposit energy in gases or solids creating new states of matter with applications to particle accelerators, thermonuclear fusion or laboratory astrophysics. Our research has explored many of these applications. They often involve basic properties of electromagnetic waves propagating in the inhomogeneous plasmas where the waves reach their turning points, will be reflected and give rise via mode conversion to new electrostatic and electromagnetic modes. We are seeking a student with a solid background in differential equations, special functions and an interest in classical electrodynamics who will be able to find solutions to wave equations describing such electromagnetic wave propagation. Results of this study will be compared with and guided by the large scale kinetic simulations and experimental measurements.

Availability: Fall 2021 or Winter 2022
Contact: Dr. Wojciech Rozmus,

Analysis of PICO 40L data

PICO 40L is a dark matter search experiment at SNOLAB that started taking data in summer 2019. The first data from this experiment is being analyzed now and for this project we are looking for dedicated students with python experience to extract physics information from the new chamber. We are interested in the background rates, calibration efficiency and acoustic performance. Students would be collaborating with groups all over Canada and work in a team with local graduate students and post docs. We also have projects for students interested in hardware related projects.

Availability: Available in Fall 2021 and Winter 2022
Contact: Dr. Carsten Krauss,

Planning of the P-ONE neutrino experiment

P-ONE is a new neutrino experiment planned in the Pacific Ocean. The ocean water is an ideal medium to detect neutrinos from the highest energy sources. Ocean based neutrino detection uses Cherenkov light to reconstruct the energy and direction of high energy neutrinos. Our group plays an important role in the determination of the physics program and the optimization of the detector geometry. For this project we are looking for a student with interest in simulation and analysis work. Knowing python is an asset for this project.

Availability: Available in Fall 2021 and Winter 2022
Contact: Dr. Carsten Krauss,

Nucleation and diffusion in lithium-ion batteries

Description: Lithium-ion batteries store and release energy via phase transitions. Phase transitions observed in batteries often differ from those predicted based on equilibrium phase diagrams due to thermodynamic (e.g. unidentified metastable phases) and kinetic (e.g. nucleation, diffusion) effects, which makes improving energy storage materials challenging. We are well equipped to detect and monitor structural and electrochemical changes over a wide range of experimental conditions and have a large data set of battery potential vs. electrode composition data. This project will focus on quantifying and understanding kinetic effects by applying first principles approaches to nucleation and diffusion to actual experimental data. The student will build on their coding and data analysis skills and gain theoretical, and (if desired) hands-on experience with electrochemistry and lithium-ion batteries.

Availability:Fall 2021 or Winter 2022
Contact: Dr. Mike Fleischauer (National Research Council -Nanotechnology Research Centre),