Swansea Science Doctoral Training Centre PhD Scholarships 2017/2018 in Physics
Swansea Science DTC is a community committed to undertaking world-class research that has a positive impact globally.
We have a number of fully-funded PhD scholarships for 2017/2018 entry. These are competitively-funded scholarships from five of our subject areas: Biosciences, Computer Science, Geography, Mathematics and Physics. Project descriptions can be found by clicking on the project titles below.
Closing date for applications: 30 April 2017
Note: Projects are listed in alphabetical order by surname of supervisor
Supervisor: Prof. Gert Aarts
Project Title: DTC PHYS 46 - Spectral properties of Quantum Chromodynamics at nonzero temperature and density
Description: The phase structure of QCD, the theory of the strong interactions, is probed by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, by colliding heavy ions. As the temperature is increased, the spectrum changes dramatically, since hadrons dissolve into quarks and gluons. In this project we investigate what happens when a small nonzero baryon density is present, which is relevant for collisions at lower energy. The project will combine simulations of lattice QCD on high-performance computing facilities, advanced data analysis and analytical studies of thermal field theory.
Supervisor: Prof. Adi Armoni
Project Title: DTC PHYS 47 - Holographic Calculation of Baryon Scattering
Description: In order to study proton scattering at CERN, we will use string theory as a computational tool. Using the holographic duality between string theory and quantum chromodynamics, the student will calculate D-brane scattering in order to describe baryon scattering.
Supervisor: Dr. James Bateman
Project Title: DTC PHYS 48 - Levitated Optomechanics and Coherent Optical Feedback
Description: Optomechanics explores the control of matter with light, and is the underlying technique behind exciting new technologies and the remarkable discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO. Levitated Optomechanics uses a single nanoparticle, trapped in vacuum at the high-intensity focus of a laser, and offers a table-top and accessible platform to study this compelling physical system. The student will build on existing experimental activity at Swansea to explore the limits of position resolution, the possibilities of coherent optical feedback, and the feasibility of practical devices.
Supervisor: Dr. Will Bryan
Project Title: DTC PHYS 49 - Femtosecond electron microscopy of ultrafast phenomena for future photon-driven information technologies.
Description: Miniaturization of electronic devices minimizes power usage while maximizing computation rates, the former vital for future societal progress within feasible environmental constraints, the latter facilitating more capable devices. In this project, we will make use of femtosecond electron microscopy, a recently developed time-resolved imaging technique ideal for tracking electric and magnetic fields and charge dynamics on the nanoscale, which will inform the application of ultrafast nanophotonics to ICT. The applicant will develop skills and experience in femtosecond lasers, nanoscale surface science, ultrahigh vacuum engineering, electron pulse compression, terahertz generation, numerical modelling and analysis, with the potential to use RCUK laser and electron Facilities operated by STFC.
Supervisor: Prof. Michael Charlton
Project Title: DTC PHYS 50 - Precision spectroscopy of antihydrogen
Description: Antimatter appears to be almost entirely absent from our Universe in contradiction of predictions based on the Standard Model of particle physics. We are investigating this conundrum by looking for hitherto undetected differenced between matter and antimatter by studying laboratory made and trapped antihydrogen in the ALPHA experiment at CERN. In this proposed project we are planning precision measurements of the 1s-2s transition in antihydrogen, a transition measured to 15 decimal places in hydrogen and therefore offering the most precise comparison of matter and antimatter possible.
Supervisor: Dr Stefan Eriksson
Project Title: DTC PHYS 51 - Quantum enhanced sensing based on tapered optical nanofibres
Description: The sensitivity of any measurement will be limited by noise, ultimately at the quantum level. In some cases one can use quantum mechanics cleverly to reach higher sensitivity than classically allowed, opening up the possibility of extraordinarily sensitive measurements of e.g. magnetic fields; something of relevance broadly, for instance in technology and medicine. In this project we are planning to use trapped ultracold atoms and their strong coupling to photons in a nanoscale optical fibre to investigate the sensitivity of the atoms to the external environment.
Supervisor: Prof. Simon Hands
Project Title: DTC PHYS 52 - Numerical Simulation of Quantum Critical Behaviour in Graphene and Related Planar Systems
Description: It is proposed to study 2+1d relativistic interacting fermions by numerical simulations of a lattice field theory employing the recently proposed “domain wall fermion” formulation (Hands, JHEP09(2015)047), which faithfully captures crucial global symmetries. The goal is to characterise the “Quantum Critical Point” where at some critical coupling the properties of the system alter abruptly, e.g. changing from metallic to insulating behaviour, as a consequence of the condensation of bound pairs of positive and negative charge carriers in the ground state. The scaling of physical observables near the QCP is universal, independent of the fine details of the lattice discretisation, and effectively defines a strongly-interacting quantum field theory at this point.
Supervisor: Kevin O'Keeffe
Project Title: DTC PHYS 53 - Femtosecond diffractive imaging using structured light
Description: Coherent pulses of extreme ultraviolet radiation with durations as short as a few femtoseconds will be generated using high-intensity ultrafast laser systems. The spatial structure of the laser pulses will be precisely controlled using an adaptive optics system recently developed by project partners at Oxford University, resulting in extreme ultraviolet radiation tailored for tabletop diffractive imaging experiments. This system will then be used to image a range of nanoscale objects, including biological material and ion-etched nanostructures, with the project allowing travel to external facilities in the UK and abroad.
Supervisor: Prof. Biagio Lucini
Project Title: DTC PHYS 54 - Higgs boson compositeness from Sp(2N) gauge models
Description: One of the most urgent open problems in particle physics is to explain why the mass of the Higgs boson is much lighter than the Planck scale, with the latter scale being the natural one according to straightforward quantum field theory arguments. Among proposed solutions to this hierarchy problem, an appealing one is the compositeness of the Higgs field, with the corresponding particle being a Nambu-Goldstone boson related to a continuous global symmetry breaking originated in a novel strong interaction. The project consists in performing for the first time a quantitative study of a class of very promising models of compositeness, Sp(2N) gauge theories, using Monte Carlo simulations on large supercomputers.
Supervisor: Prof. Niels Madsen
Project Title: DTC PHYS 55 - Enhanced antihydrogen trapping for fundamental tests
Description: Antimatter appears to be almost entirely absent from our Universe in contradiction of predictions based on the Standard Model of particle physics. We are investigating this conundrum by looking for hitherto undetected differenced between matter and antimatter by studying laboratory made and trapped antihydrogen in the ALPHA experiment at CERN. In this project we wish to strengthen our ability for these tests by using laser-cooled beryllium ions to cool the positron plasmas used for antihydrogen synthesis as a way to strongly increase the number of trapped antihydrogen atoms available for study.
Supervisor: Professor Paul Meredith
Project Tile: DTC PHYS 56 - Transport and Electro-Optics of Next Generation Semiconductors and Devices for Optoelectronics
The physics of traditional inorganic semiconductors such as silicon has been well established and arguably underpinned the electronic revolution of the past 50 years. New semiconductors based upon low embedded energy materials are emerging and moving forward into applications – such materials include organic semiconductors, quantum dots and organohalide perovskites. The physics of these semiconductors is very different to their more traditional counterparts, and still not fully understood. This project involves the study of a range of next generation semiconductors, specifically focussing on electro-optical properties of critical importance to a new applications in optoelectronics such as solar energy harvesting and photodetection. The project outcomes will feed more applied work in delivering new technology as part of the comprehensive Ser Cymru program on Sustainable Advanced Materials – a cross university endeavour in collaboration with the College of Engineering and SPECIFIC at Swansea University.
Supervisor: Markus Mueller
Project Title: DTC PHYS 57 - Quantum Neural Networks with Atoms and Photons
Description: Classical neural networks are a powerful information processing paradigm that is applied with great success to tasks ranging from pattern and speech recognition, the analysis of ‘big data’ to deep learning. This PhD project, at the interface of quantum physics and computer science, aims at laying the conceptual framework and identifying basic physical building blocks for the construction of quantum neural networks. Such novel information processing devices based on the laws of quantum physics might offer – similar to envisioned quantum computers – enormously increased information processing speed, enhanced information storage capacity, robustness and shorter-term realisability — for more information on this project, our international group and research in theoretical quantum information, see www.markus-mueller.website.
Supervisor: Prof. Carlos Nunez
Project Title: DTC PHYS 58 - Chern-Simons and Bosonisation in Condensed Matter Physics
Description: Many systems of Condensed Matter Physics (Superconductors, Topological Insulators, etc) are examples of 'planar Physics': their dynamics is constrained to happen in two space dimensions. The theoretical description of such systems requires the introduction of a very unique and particular dynamics for the electromagnetic field, called Chern-Simons (CS) terms. In this project we study different incarnations of CS: it appears as an alternative description for the low energy dynamics of heavy fermionic particles, and it gives fermionic properties to bosonic particles (and vice-versa). An interesting 'web of dualities' between different CS-like theories was recently proposed. We will study it and extend its reach and
search for the unifying ideas among many different systems of direct application in Condensed Matter Physics.
Supervisor: Prof. Maurizio Piai
Project Title: DTC PHYS 59 - Compositeness and Physics Beyond the Standard Model.
Description: After the discovery of the Higgs particle, the on-going LHC program started a new era of explorations of the energy frontier in new, unchartered territory.
One important goal of this huge international effort is to understand the fundamental origin of electroweak symmetry breaking, and this project will allow the student to contribute in this direction by studying in details the phenomenological and theoretical implications of compositeness as a way to complete the Standard Model at high energies.
The ambitious research program requires that the student gain insight on the quantum field theory aspects of the problem, aimed at building, developing and testing concrete realisations of compositeness, by combining elements from at least one amongst: experimental and phenomenological considerations, effective field theory arguments, and non-perturbative methods (gauge/gravity dualities and lattice field theory).
Supervisor: Dr. Daniel Thompson
Project Title: DTC PHYS 60 - Duality and Resurgence in String Theory and Quantum Field Theory
Description: Resurgence is the potentially far reaching conjecture that non-perturbative phenomena (examples being confinement and the mass gap of QCD) in quantum systems are subtlety encoded in the break down of perturbation theory at large order. Duality is the astonishing property that apparently completely different systems may, in fact, describe identical underlying physics. This project will fuse these two ideas, studying them in a range of scenarios to address the properties of string theory and integrable quantum field theories.
Supervisor: Prof. Dirk Peter van der Werf
Project Title: DTC PHYS 61 - Antimatter gravity
Description: Antimatter appears to be almost entirely absent from our Universe in contradiction of predictions based on the Standard Model of particle physics. We are investigating this conundrum by looking for hitherto undetected differenced between matter and antimatter by studying laboratory made and trapped antihydrogen in the ALPHA experiment at CERN. In this project we want to use trapped antihydrogen to study the so-called weak equivalence principle postulated by Einstein in the early 20th century, which states that all objects independent of their structure and composition experience the same acceleration due to gravity.
These are three year fully-funded scholarships, open to UK/EU candidates which include an annual stipend of £14,553 plus full UK/EU tuition fees.
Applications from overseas candidates are welcome, but candidates would be required to pay the difference between the UK/EU tuition fees and the overseas tuition fees.
Candidates must have a First, Upper Second Class Honours (or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline. Informal enquiries before the deadline are welcome by emailing the project supervisor.
How to apply
Candidates should only apply for one project.
Candidates must complete and submit the following documentation by the stated deadline.
To apply for this scholarship, please download the research scholarship application form and return it to the College of Science with the following:
- Academic References – all scholarship applications require two supporting references to be submitted. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as their references form a vital part of the evaluation process. Please either include these with your scholarship application or ask your referees to send them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Academic Transcripts and Degree Certificates – academic transcripts and degree certificates must be submitted along with the scholarship application by the funding deadline. We will be using these to verify your academic qualifications.
- CV – please include a recent CV
- Candidates should use the ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ section of the application form to explain why the award they are applying for particularly matches their skills and experience and how they would choose to develop the project. Candidates are also required to identify the supervisor associated with their project explicitly in their application.
Please include the project code and title in your email subject header, eg: DTC BIO 1 - Animal colouration in 3-D PhD scholarship application / DTC CS 11 - Social Network Analysis for Mental Health Support PhD scholarship application / DTC GEO 20 - An investigation into the empirical validity of the global city concept and interlocking world city network thesis PhD scholarship application / DTC MATH 36 - Noncommutative Smoothing PhD scholarship application / DTC PHYS 47 - Spectral properties of Quantum Chromodynamics at nonzero temperature and density PhD scholarship application.
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