Projects

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Projects for Summer 2017

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Neutrino Coherent Scattering

A new type of neutrino interaction with mater, called Neutrino Coherent Scattering, has been theorized to exist since 1974. So far all efforts to see this process were not successful.  The reason is that is very difficult to see.  Recent significant progress in the development of low threshold detectors and the availability new powerful neutrino source like Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL bring the possibility tof seeing neutrino coherent scattering within reach.  Working on that project, a student will gain extensive hardware and/or software experience.   The project requires the student to spend most of his/her research time at ORNL.

Advisor:  Professor Yuri Efremenko
 

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Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) for Electric Grid Security

Cybersecurity for the systems responsible for the operation of the nationís electric grid is critically important.  An important tool in this effort is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), which is a means of generating identical random bit strings at two remote locations.  Unfortunately, very little is known about how a QKD network would perform in a grid environment.  This project addresses that gap by building a data-based model of a QKD network designed specifically to meet the cybersecurity needs of a metro-size electric grid.  The model will be built to incorporate realistic estimates of: the number and location of SCADA devices; the quantity and sensitivity of network traffic; and the performance characteristics of the fiberoptic network, including the location and availability of dark fiber. Programming experience will be helpful, as well as an interest in quantum information.  For an overview of our research group at ORNL, please visit https://www.ornl.gov/division/csed/quantum-information.     

Advisor:  Dr. Warren Grice
 

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Finite volume corrections in nuclear computations

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN this year will collide protons at unprecedented energies and beam intensities to search for new particles such as predicted by beyond standard model theories including dark matter candidates.  Several of the detectors that make up the  Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) have been upgraded and repaired.  It will be very important to inspect immediately measurements to ensure the integrity of data and gain understanding in the behavior of the detection instruments, as well as search for unexpected signals.  The student will be able to learn how to analyze data from the CMS detector and help searching for new signals. he project might include participation in live data taking.

Advisor:  Professor Stefan Spanier
 
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Neutrino Physics with Liquid Argon time Projection Chambers

The current and next generation neutrino experiments are aimed at resolving some of the very important open questions in particle physics such as Charge-Parity violation with neutrinos (important for understanding matter/anti-matter asymmetry in the Universe), Sterile neutrinos (are there more types of neutrinos?), supernovae neutrinos (astrophysical phenomena), and nucleon decay searches (proton decay is not observed till date). There is a lot of active on-going effort on building advanced detector technologies to achieve the precision we need to make these measurements.  The Liquid argon time projection chamber (LArTPC) technology is currently driving the neutrino physics program.  I am actively involved in the MicroBooNE LArTPC experiment which is located at Fermilab (Illinois) and is taking neutrino data.  I am also a collaborator on the SBND LArTPC experiment which is currently being built at Fermilab.  The summer project would involve analysis and hardware opportunities with both experiments and a possibility to travel to Fermilab to take part in the construction and assembly of the SBND experiment.

Advisor:  Professor Sowjanya Gollapinni
 

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Commissioning of a state-of-the-art Angle- and Spin-Resolved Photoemission Spectrometer.

The Advanced Photoelectron Spectrometer (APS) is a unique instrument centered on an x-ray photoelectron spectrometer with angle- and spin- resolution.  This instrument, funded in 2009 through the NSF-MRI program and built by Specs, is one of the Recharge Centers in the Joint Institute for Adanced Materials (JIAM).  The instrument combines unique capabilities: 1) a monochromatized X-ray source with two different energies (Al Kα = 1486 eV and Ag Lα = 2984 eV) with micro-spot of ≈ 130 mm for analysis of very small or inhomogeneous samples, and 2) a state-of-the-art hemispherical electron analyzer provisioned with a mini-Mott detector for electron spin detection.  The detector allows the parallel acquisition of spin resolved and non-spin resolved data.  The monochromaticity of the x-ray source guarantees both high energy resolution, while the availability of two energies allows accessing different probing depths, ranging from more surface sensitive measurements involving the Al Ka line, towards a less surface sensitive regime measurements carried out with the Ag Lα line.  The APS is a premiere instrument for the determination of the electronic structure of materials.

A summer internship is available for a highly motivated undergraduate student who would like to carry out the final battery of tests necessary for the commissioning the system to the JIAM community.  The candidate will have the chance to learn about the scientific and instrumentational principle of core and valence Photoemission Spectroscopy.

Advisor:  Professor Norman Mannella
 
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High-Power Beam Test Facility measurements and data analysis

The Spallation Neutron Source accelerator has constructed a high power Beam Test Facility as a functional duplicate of the first section of the SNS accelerator.  The BTF is being used as a platform for testing new accelerator hardware and for conducting novel, high impact beam dynamics research.  One of the first experiments planned on the BTF is a complete measurement of the full six-dimensional phase space of the ion beam.  To date this measurement has never been performed on any accelerator.  The measurement will provide critical missing information about correlations within six independent beam phase space variables.  The summer project will involve data taking on the BTF, analysis of data from the experiments, and automation of data analysis methods. 

Advisor:  Dr. Sarah Cousineau
 

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Building artificial quantum materials

Quantum materials are a kaleidoscope of emergent phenomena in correlated electron systems, such as metal-insulator transition and quantum magnetism.  While the mutual interaction of a pair of electrons is governed by fundamental laws of physics, the complexity dramatically increases in a collective of electrons, leading to countless forms of electronic self-organization beyond conventional solid state theory.  Which conventional material synthesis relies on thermal equilibrium growth, artificial structures dynamically stabilized out of non-equilibrium provide new routes in search for novel behavior with unprecedented controls.  Here we look for highly self-motivated undergraduate students to join our effort in employing atomic layering technique of epitaxial growth to design, create and tailor artificial quantum materials at nanoscale.  Students can expect hands-on experience from participation in synthesis and characterizations. Studentsí contributions will be credited in co-authored publications. The received training allows students to gain exposure in the field of material physics.

Advisor:  Professor Jian Liu
 
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Synthesizing and characterizing magnetically frustrated materials

The study of frustrated magnets challenges fundamental understanding of many-body physics, while offering opportunities to realize excitation and quasiparticles for new functionalities. Heterostructures and interfaces provide an excellent gateway to control and lift geometric frustration but are yet to be explored. In this study, we look for highly self-motivated undergraduate students to contribute to the first and crucial step toward creating oxide heterostructures of frustrated magnetic systems. In particularly, the student will receive training on the synthesis and characterizations of ceramic targets for thin film deposition. This project has components in both solid state chemistry and solid-state physics and will be an integrated part of our investigation on frustrated interfaces. The studentís contributions will be credited in co-authored publications. Through the hands-on experience, the student to gain exposure to the frontier of condensed matter physics and academic research.

Advisor:  Professor Jian Liu
 
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Supernova Nucleosynthesis in 3D

We model the deaths of massive stars in core-collapse supernovae with two and three dimensional simulations.  Many of the most important observations, which can tell us if our models are correct, depend on the new atomic nuclei that are produced in the explosion.  The student will assist in running our nucleosynthesis calculations and visualizing the results so that we may better understand the nuclear contributions from these exploding stars.

Advisor:  Professor Raph Hix

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NEUTRINO PHYSICS

This project is mainly experimental and introduces the students to neutrino physics.  The student working in this project will spend some of his/her time working with the neutrino physics group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the 85 MW HFIR.  Robust antineutrino detection near a reactor would enable precise measurements of the reactor antineutrino flux and spectrum, allow the search for sterile neutrino oscillation over meter-long baselines, and demonstrate the concept of reactor monitoring with surface deployable detectors for safeguard applications.  The student will be involved in background measurements and construction of the PROSPECT detector.

Advisor:  Dr. Alfredo Galindo-Uribarri

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DOUBLE BETA DECAY

This project is mainly experimental and introduces the students to the most sensitive experiments of double beta decay.  After evidence for neutrino oscillations was obtained from the results of atmospheric, solar, reactor, and accelerator neutrino experiments renewed interest in neutrinoless double beta decay has seen a significant renewal.  The student working in this project will spend some of his/her time working with the neutrino physics group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Advisor:  Dr. Alfredo Galindo-Uribarri

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NEW GENERATION OF CHARGED PARTICLE DETECTORS

A new charged particle detector is in R&D phase.  Its small dimensions permits extremely compact, light and robust mechanical design ideal for a detector with large solid angle and comparable angular resolution to that of the most advanced gamma-array detector in the world.  The student working in this project will spend some of his/her time working with the nuclear structure physics group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and participate in experiments.  The project constitutes an opportunity for undergraduate students to learn how different particle-gamma experiments are used to unveil different properties of nuclei.

Advisor:  Dr. Alfredo Galindo-Uribarri

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Computational Tools for Core-Collapse Supernova Simulations

Core-collapse supernovae (CCSNe) are explosions of massive stars, powered by the gravitational energy released from the collapse of the core.  Simulations of CCSNe reveal complex dynamics involving shocks and turbulent flows.  The Discontinuous Galerkin (DG) method for solving the equations describing fluid flows is gaining increased attention in the astrophysics community, partially due to itís scalability, itís ability to capture shocks, and attain high accuracy in smooth flows.  In this project, the students will help in developing new methods for stellar core collapse based on the discontinuous Galerkin method.  Programming experience and a strong interest in computational physics is desired.  

Advisors:  Professor Tony Mezzacappa and   Dr. Eirik Endeve

 

More projects will be listed soon.

Projects for Summer 2016

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Neutron beta decay

Everyday matter is made of atoms whose nuclei contain protons and neutrons.  The nuclear constituents in ordinary matter are stable, but as soon as we are presented with a free neutron Ė it is unstable, with an average lifetime of ~15 minutes.  The free neutron decays into a proton, an electron and an antineutino.  By studying the correlations between the decay quantities (energies, momenta, particle spin), we can do sophisticated tests of the Standard Model of physics and look for evidence of physics phenomena beyond it.  One such experiment (Nab) is currently being constructed to run at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL. The summer project would involve both hardware and software tasks involved with instrumenting different components of the apparatus.

Advisor:  Professor Nadia Fomin
 

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Relativistic Heavy Ion Physics

The relativistic heavy ion group studies the properties of the Quark Gluon Plasma produced in high energy heavy ion collisions.  The hot, dense medium produced in these collisions reaches temperatures over a million times hotter than the core of the sun and energy densities approximately 15 times those of normal nuclear matter.  The QGP, dubbed the Perfect Liquid, has the lowest viscosity to entropy density of any fluid ever measured.  Our group works on both the PHENIX experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.  Students working with our group will primarily do data analysis using the C++-based program ROOT.  While the details of the project may be adapted depending on the interests and skills of the student and the needs of the group, we envision students studying energy loss in the QGP by studying jets in the ALICE experiment.  A jet is the collimated spray of particles created when a high energy parton (quark or gluon) hadronizes, or breaks down into lower mass and energy particles.  By reconstructing jets the energy of the parton can be partially or wholly reconstructed.  Undergraduate projects will involve quantifying how much energy is lost and where that energy goes.

Advisor:  Professor Christine Nattrass
 

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Finite volume corrections in nuclear computations

One approach that aims at calculating the properties of nuclei using computers, simulates the nuclei in a discretized finite volume. In such a simulation, the finite volume leads to corrections in observables that can and need to be quantified.  These corrections are specifically related to the change in the asymptotic part of the quantum mechanical wave function whose dynamics is constrained by the free Schroedinger equation and appropriate boundary conditions.
The student will analyze these corrections using analytical tools for various observables of interest.

Advisor:  Professor Lucas Platter
 
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Quantum Information

Our group is exploring the bizarre world of quantum mechanics. Its properties, such as superposition, coherence, entanglement, etc, have given rise to various paradoxes (Schrodinger's cat, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox, etc).  Back in the early '80s, Feynman was among the first to suggest that these principles may enable us to process information at much faster speeds than any classical computer.  Ever since, people have been trying to harness the power of quantum mechanics and build a quantum computer.  This subject is still in its infancy, but already industry giants, such as Microsoft and IBM, are trying to make the first quantum computer.  Another promising application of quantum mechanics is in cryptography.  It provides unprecedented means of transmitting encrypted information over a public channel.  Both experimental and theoretical projects are available in quantum cryptography with our group over the summer, and beyond if there is continued interest.  For more information on our group, visit http://aesop.phys.utk.edu/QI/.

Advisor:  Professor George Siopsis
 
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Analyzing x-ray and neutron scattering data

Our group requires the assistance of an undergraduate physics student to analyze x-ray and neutron scattering data with existing tools. Data include measurements of thin magnetic films with polarized neutrons and bulk materials with Laue x-ray diffraction.  The student will learn how x-ray and neutron scattering measurements are performed, and valuable  lessons in statistical analysis of data.  Work to be performed at UTK and/or ORNL sites.

Advisor:  Dr. Mike Fitzsimmons  phone:   865-574-7243  (ORNL-SNS)
 
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Study of a new concept of direct detection of Dark Matter

This project is mostly computational aimed on creating a Monte-Carlo code that will describe a new model for the motion of particle DM in our galaxy and its interaction with different detectors.  Currently some  existing detectors claim to see the signal of DM, while others refute these observations.  In the new model all observations hopefully can be described together as not contradicting each other and some predictions for the new observations with new different types of detectors can be made.  Potentially this study might result in a published paper.  Besides the computational experience with FORTRAN, the interest to the physics and particularly to the subject of Dark Matter, and the desire to master Monte-Carlo simulation techniques, no special skills are required.

Advisor:  Professor Yuri Kamyshkov
 
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Diamond nano-particle reflectors for neutrons

Neutrons do not have electric charge and for this reason they canít be accelerated, decelerated, or manipulated by electric and magnetic fields.  Usually the process of elastic scattering of fast neutrons on light nuclei is used to slow them down. Fermi discovered that slow neutrons can undergo specular reflection from metal surfaces due to quantum mechanics effects; this effect together with Braggís scattering is broadly used in super-mirrors for manipulation of neutrons by reflection, e.g. neutrons can be focused or re-directed.  A thin layer of diamond nano-particle powder due to its high nuclear potential and low absorption has interesting quantum mechanical property of quasi-specular reflection.  This property can be used for neutron manipulation, where metal specular reflection will be inefficient. I n this project we will study the mechanism of neutron reflection by nano-powder via Monte Carlo simulations (FORTRAN coding will be required or can be learned) for focusing purpose in the developing of future experiment that will be searching for neutron transformation into antineutrons.  A study of nano-powder reflector samples with the reflectometer at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge is also anticipated.

Advisor:  Professor Yuri Kamyshkov
 
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Zero Earth magnetic field shielded to nT level

Some physics processes and experiments require zero magnetic field in the experimental volume.  Thus, the Earth magnetic field of ~50,000 nT = 0.5 G should be reduced down to the 1 nT level in the experiment searching for the transformation of neutrons to antineutrons.  This experiment is being designed for the new generation European Spallation Source being constructed in Sweden.  A prototype of the magnetic shield that needs to be designed for this experiment was built at UT and needs to be studied in the laboratory with operation of active and passive magnetic shields.  Research will include 3D measurements of the magnetic field in the prototype with special precision 3D magnetic sensors; students will analyze data; determine the accuracy of the measurements, and determine the procedure of demagnetization of the mu-metal in the multilayer passive shield. In case of a positive results, a paper should be written to Nuclear Instruments and Methods.

Advisor:  Professor Yuri Kamyshkov
 
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Calibration of liquid scintillator for NOvA experiment with Compton Gamma Spectrometer

For the NOvA experiment at Fermilab (a US flagship project in neutrino oscillations) a precision determination of the neutrino energy is required.  The detector medium in NOvA is liquid scintillator, the response of which is known to be non-linear vs energy of particles.  Usually detectors of this kind are calibrated with beams of particles of known energy at accelerators, but in case of NOvA the detector located in Minnesota has a size of a football field and can not be brought to the accelerator for calibration.  Some calibrations will be performed with cosmic ray particles, but this cannot calibrate out the effect of scintillator non-linearity.  This non-linearity can be measured with a small sample of liquid scintillator in the laboratory at UT with an existing Compton Gamma Spectrometer.  The spectrometer includes a precision Ge-detectors and a set of electronics that provide data acquisition.  Measurements will require a fair understanding of nuclear electronics and DAQ systems and will include data analysis of the measurements performed at different scattering angles.

Advisor:  Professor Yuri Kamyshkov
 
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DETECTORS FOR LOW-ENERGY NUCLEAR PHYSICS 

We have developed the VANDLE array of plastic neutron detectors and are in the process of developing the HAGRiD array of organic scintillator detectors for gamma ray detection.  Smaller auxiliary detectors are also under development to be used with these arrays.  All of these detector systems are instrumented with digital data acquisition systems.  Summer projects may contain a combination of hands-on detector work and programming.

Advisor:  Professor Kate Jones

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Development and Application of New Fast Integration Methods with GPU Acceleration for Astrophysical and Atmospheric Chemistry Applications

We have recently developed new methods to solve the large coupled sets of differential equations describing the kinetics equations in applications such as stellar explosions and atmospheric chemistry. In addition, we are porting these new algorithms to modern GPU (Graphics Processing Units) accelerators on large supercomputers such as Titan. We have thus far been able to demonstrate an increase of more than a factor of 100 in efficiency over current state of the art methods for simulation of realistic kinetic networks in Type Ia supernova explosions, which implies the possibility to solve a large number of problems in a number of fields with these methods that were previously computationally intractable. In this project we will continue the development of these new methods and their application to Type Ia supernova explosions (in collaboration with the supernova groupand ORNL) and large-scale atmospheric chemistry simulations (in collaboration with NOAA atmospheric scientists). An overview of the new methods that we are using may be found in our most
recent paper, which is available as a preprint from http://arxiv.org/abs/1409.5826.
Students will be expected to have some background in computing and programming, and a familiarity with C, C++, and Fortran 90 (or willingness to learn) will be desirable.

Advisor:  Professor Mike Guidry