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Physics and Astronomy

Students may apply to one or more of the below projects, indicating this in their statement of interest, or they may apply for "Physics & Astronomy: General," indicating in their statement of interest their skills and background and some faculty with whom they would be interested in working.  Physics & Astronomy Faculty List

Title Name Email Project Name Project Description Requirements
Prof. Yong P. Chen  chen276@purdue.edu 2D Van der Waals Materials Heterostructures Fabrication and Characterization Two dimensional materials like graphene, cleavable down to single atomic layers, coupled to the different properties of these materials (optical, ferromagnetic and electrical), has opened a new way of engineering devices through stacking layers. But for proper device engineering it is important to understand how these properties have changed after stacking them.
The student is expected to mainly contribute in the exfoliation and characterization of 2D Van der Waals materials (ferromagnetic, topological insulators, transitional metal dichalcogenides) and its stacking to form the heterostructures. Characterization of the materials will be performed with Raman spectroscopy, photoluminescence, atomic force microscopy and Magneto Optic Kerr (MOKE) measurements in which the student participation is expected.
A student capable of fast learning is desired. It is recommended that the student should have good fine motor skills for handling delicate samples. A basic coursework in solid state theory, optics and electromagnetism is also recommended.
Assoc. Prof. Rafael Lang rafael@purdue.edu Dark Matter The Dark Matter group at Purdue (www.darkmatter.org) uses the liquid xenon detectors XENON1T/XENONnT (www.xenon1t.org) and LBECA to probe the elusive Dark Matter. The XENON experiments are located in the Gran Sasso underground laboratory in Italy and are the most sensitive experiments of their kind. The Purdue group is responsible for the calibration systems of these experiments and has significant involvement in the analysis of their data. We also lead the LBECA Dark Matter collaboration and operate a dedicated liquid xenon test detector at Purdue to improve this detector technology further.

We perform extensive analysis of data from these detectors in the search of Dark Matter, solar neutrinos, and other signatures such as neutrinos expected from Galactic supernova events. The dedicated liquid xenon R&D test detector in the lab at Purdue is used to reduce crucial backgrounds such as, for example, feeble fake signal candidates arising from individual electrons trapped in the liquid xenon. Specifically, we are currently spearheading a new technology using infrared lasers to exploit the capability of liquid xenon detectors to detect signals at the level of individual electrons.
Required training will be on-the-job. We will choose the particular PURE research project together with the successful applicant depending on interest. Areas of work include data analysis as well as work with particle detectors such as organic liquid scintillator cells, NaI(Tl) detectors and liquid noble gas detectors, ultra-high vacuum systems, photomultiplier tubes and silicon photomultipliers, sensor interfacing, experiment design, software development (Python, C++, Labview), Monte Carlo simulations, as well as data acquisition and data reduction. We will either find an experimental project that includes both hardware and software aspects, or a relevant data analysis project directly using the Dark Matter search data from the XENON1T and XENONnT experiments.

The successful applicant will be working in a team with the PI, a postdoc, four graduate students, and several undergraduate students from Purdue and other universities. Participation in all aspects of daily operations, from group meetings and seminars to regular teleconferences with the international collaborators will be part of the project.
Asst. Prof. Rudro R Biswas rrbiswas@purdue.edu Interplay between Geometry and Disorder in Exotic Quantum Systems This undergraduate research project will provide an opportunity to explore the interplay between geometry and disorder in exotic quantum states of matter. The student will have a chance to become familiar with topological quantum states of matter such as graphene, the topological insulators, topological superconductors and the quantum Hall states. They will get a chance to study the properties of defects and disorder in these states of matter. These will be achieved using a combination of analytical and numerical techniques complemented by novel tools of visualization. Excellent all-round basic physics training.
Asst. Prof. Sri Iyer-Biswas iyerbiswas@purdue.edu Scaling Laws Governing Stochastic Dynamics of Living Systems  This research opportunity will allow the student to work at the exciting interface of physics, statistics, computer science and biology, and apply theoretical, computational and experimental techniques to elucidate the physical principles governing stochastic single-cell dynamics. The student will have an opportunity to become familiar with stochastic processes theory, i.e., the physics of random fluctuations. This theory has applications in many other modern contexts, including quantitative finance. They will get to work with computational algorithms for data processing tens of Terabytes of data per experiment. They will also get to work on highly interdisciplinary projects involving advanced optics, microfluidics, cutting-edge image and data analysis and genetic engineering. Additionally, they will have an opportunity to work in an environment that is welcoming of diversity of identity, experience and perspective. Experience with automation, advanced optics, coding and/or stochastic processes theory is an added plus.
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