Physics & 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 Chen Towards atomically thin spintronics: 2D Van der Waals magnetic heterostrutures fabrication and characterization Recent discovery of 2D Van der Waals magnets (atomically layered) opens the possibility of ultra thin spintronics. Materials like CrI3 or Cr2Ge2Te6, semiconductors with magnetic order down to a single layer, can be combined with other 2D Van der Waals materials with high spin orbit coupling that could be used to drive or read spin currents. This currents are carried as magnons in the 2D magnet paving the way to a possible dissipation less way of controlling information. It is important to have  a better understanding of the efficiency and physical mechanisms of these phenomena. Using magneto optic Kerr and electrical transport measurements on the heterostructures these mechanisms will be studied.

The student is expected to mainly contribute in the exfoliation and characterization of 2D Van der Waals materials and its stacking to form the heterostructures. Characterization of the materials will be performed with Raman spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and Magneto Optic Kerr (MOKE) measurements in which the student participation is expected.
A student with previous experience or a basic understanding of any of the mentioned techniques (Atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy or MOKE measurements) or capable of fast learning is desired. It is recommended that the student should have good fine motor skills and persistence though activities that can be tedious. A basic coursework in solid state theory, optics and electromagnetism is also recommended.
Prof. Yong Chen Quantum Chemistry with Spin-Orbit-Coupled Bose-Einstein Condensates The primary focus of quantum chemistry is the application of quantum mechanics in physical models and experiments. In our lab, we create spin-orbit-coupled Bose-Einstein condensates (SOC-BEC) of ultracold rubidium (Rb) atoms and investigate photoassociation of Rb atoms into Rb molecules. Such experiments help us understand quantum chemical processes, thanks to unprecedented control over the chemical-reaction pathways due to carefully prepared BEC states. This project requires a state-of-the-art stabilized laser in multiple wavelengths locked to atomic absorption lines of Rb. The student’s contribution will be integrating tunable continuous wave laser to a transfer cavity that is stabilized to an atomic transition line. Understanding of theoretical background on atomic absorption spectroscopy, optical cavity stabilization (including electronic feedback mechanism), and Bose-Einstein condensation is preferable. Also, experience with Labview interface to control various hardware and basic optical alignment skills are plus. Experimental experience with ultracold atoms is desirable, however, not required. 

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