REU Projects 2015

Accelerator Science

Faculty: Pietro Musumeci

The REU student will be involved in a NSF funded project on improving the brightness of relativistic ultrafast electron beams. By combining the progress in ultrafast laser technology and our improved understanding of photocathode physics and beam dynamics the promise exists to develop ultrahigh brightness electron sources which could have applications in compact FELs, femtosecond time-resolved electron diffraction and microscopy and advanced accelerators.  The student will be actively involved in the experiments currently ongoing at the UCLA Pegasus advanced photoinjector Laboratory.

Astronomy

Faculty: Michael Fitzgerald

Projects: There are two possible projects.  (1) The student will work on reduction and analysis of high-contrast polarimetry data from the Gemini Planet Imager.  The aim is to get high signal-to-noise ratio detections of light scattered by circumstellar debris.  This will involve using the data reduction pipeline to optimize parameters for reduction of data.  It will also involve tuning of algorithms designed to suppress the residual stellar point-spread function.  (2) The student will work to analyze data related to the readout of an advanced infrared imaging array, which is being installed in a new imaging camera for the OSIRIS instrument at Keck Observatory.  This will involve analyzing data and helping to tune readout performance.  We will be potentially experimenting with advanced high-frame-rate modes of the device.

Faculty: Andrea Ghez

Project: Black Hole and Its Environment at the Galactic Center: High resolution images of the center of our Galaxy with the world's largest telescopes are giving us an unprecedented view of a supermassive black hole and its environs. Through precision measurement of stellar orbits we aim to address many fundamental questions about the formation and evolution of black holes and galaxies. Possible summer projects include studies of (1) how the observed young stars arrived in this region in which no young stars were expected, (2) how this region was depleted of giants, which were predicted to exist in large numbers, (3) searches for micro-lensing events and (4) simulations of observations with future large ground-based telescopes.
 
Faculty: Brad Hansen and Smadar Naoz
 
Project: Secular Stability of Planetary Systems: The long term stability of planetary systems is often compromised by the accumulated gravitational perturbations between planets. With the recent increase in the number of known exoplanet systems, this project will involve estimating the strength of the interactions between giant planets and compact planetary systems of terrestrial planets, using semi-analytic and numerical methods.The student will start by fitting distributions of mass and semi-major axis to the existing database of known exoplanets and will then generate a distribution of model systems that correspond to reality. (S)he will then examine these distributions in terms of simple measures of stability.  If time allows, numerical simulations of interesting systems will be undertaken.
 
Faculty: James Larkin
 
Project: Instrumentation development for the Thirty Meter Telescope: We are designing a large spectrograph for the Thirty Meter Telescope being constructed on the summit of Mauna Kea. It will be the largest telescope ever created and the instrument will be innovative in a variety of ways to take advantage of the telescopes sensitivity and magnification. There are several activities a student can participate in ranging from testing of internal mechanisms, detector optimization and optical design. Depending on student interest there are also science related projects involving reducing existing extragalactic data similar to those proposed with the telescope and modeling future scientific investigations.
 
Atomic Physics
 
Faculty: Wes Campbell
 
Project: Optical frequency comb stabilization. The Campbell group uses a special type of laser called an optical frequency comb to cool, trap, and manipulate ultracold atoms and trapped ions for quantum information processing.  The stabilization of the frequency of this type of laser requires a more sophisticated (and more interesting!) approach than for a single-frequency laser.  This project will involve lasers, optics, and electronics to stabilize the frequency comb to the level of 1 part in a billion or better over a few hours by "locking" the laser to a carefully-designed optical cavity the student will help construct.
 
Biophysics
 
Faculty: Katsushi Arisaka
 
Project: Neurophysics of C. elegans: We are interested in how the neural network of a small animal processes external stimulations simultaneously and make a prompt decision to navigate its environment for survival. For this purpose, we are developing an advanced optical microscope to observe the entire 302 neurons of freely behaving C. elegans. The REU student will participate in designing, construction and operation of the microscope. 
 
 
Dark Matter Search

Faculty: Hanguo Wang
1. Direct dark matter search R&D using liquid xenon and liquid argon.
2. photo sensor development
3. Silicon PhotoMultiplier testing.

The above are all related to dark matter search. We are currently involved in both XENON (liquid xenon) and DarkSide (liquid argon) direct dark matter search project based in Italy.

Faculty: Andrew Renshaw

Aid in the development and testing of components for a deuterium-tritium (deuterium) neutron generator which we are designing and fabricating at UCLA.  This may include running simulations, designing and fabricating parts, and designing, building and operating various test setups.  Students would gain extensive experience in data acquisition and analysis, working with vacuum and cryogenic systems, and general particle physics experimental design and setup.

Elementary Particle Physics

Faculty: David Saltzberg

Project: Research and Development of a large area detector to electromagnetically detect moving charged particles. We are designing and building a detector based on magnetic detection of high energy particles.  This is still in the early phase and we are building one of the first prototypes to see if it works. This project will involve a lot of hands-on work, electronics, and electromagnetic calculations and modeling.

Nuclear Physics
Faculty: Huan Z. Huang
Project: Study of Heavy Quark Interaction with QCD Matter: QCD partonic matter at extremely high temperature and energy density has been created in Au+Au collisions at Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). We will study heavy quark (Charm and Bottom) interactions with the QCD matter in central Au+Au collisions. Heavy quarks are produced mostly through the gluon-gluon fusion process during the initial impact of the colliding nuclei. After the initial production heavy quarks may scatter off partons in the QCD matter and suffer energy losses while traversing the QCD matter via gluon radiation or elastic scattering. We will investigate experimentally signatures of these heavy quark interactions with the QCD matter.
Physics

Faculty: Jianwei (John) Miao

Project: Experimental condensed matter physics: atomic resolution electron tomography. In 1959 Richard Feynman stated that “It would be very easy to make an analysis of any complicated chemical substance; all one would have to do would be to look at it and see where the atoms are... I put this out as a challenge: Is there no way to make the electron microscope more powerful ?” In this project, we will tackle Feynman's 1959 challenge by using a novel electron tomography method, known as equal slope tomography (EST). In a combination of EST and scanning transmission electron microscopy, we achieve electron tomography at 2.4 angstrom resolution and observe nearly all the atoms in a multiply-twinned Pt nanoparticle (Nature 483, 444, 2012). We find the existence of atomic steps at 3D twin boundaries of the Pt nanoparticle and, for the first time, image the 3D core structure of edge and screw dislocations in materials at atomic resolution (Nature 496, 74, 2013). We expect this atomic resolution electron tomography method to find application in physics, materials sciences, nanoscience and chemistry.
 
Soft Condensed Matter
 
Faculty: Thomas G. Mason
 
Project: Analyzing video data of complex multi-particle2D systems for microrheology. Skills in Mathematica, Matlab, LabVIEW, ImageJ, Photoshop, IDL, or Igor would be helpful. Some knowledge of stress-strain relationships of soft materials would also be helpful.
 
Theoretical/Computational Plasma Physics
 
Faculty: Frank Jenko
 
Project: Magnetic flux ropes play an essential role in countless space and astrophysical phenomena, e.g. near the surface of stars. They can wander, break, and reconnect, displaying a rich and fascinating portfolio of dynamical effects. Flux ropes have been observed in nature by means of satellites - and in the laboratory, e.g. in the Large Plasma Device (LAPD) at UCLA. The REU student will complement these efforts by performing and analyzing numerical simulations of flux rope dynamics. This could also involve the creation of state-of-the-art movies.
 
Faculty: Frank Jenko
 
Project: Alfvén waves (discovered by Nobel Laureate Hannes Alfvén) are key building blocks of astrophysical turbulence. They couple nonlinearly, transferring energy from large to small scales in a cascade process. Recent spacecraft measurements in the solar wind pioneered the study of dissipation phenomena at the smallest scales, which help determine the thermodynamics of astrophysical plasmas and may involve the creation of energetic particles. The REU student will apply both analytical and numerical methods to characterize and better understand these phenomena. 
 
For both projects, some basic experience with programming (in any high-level language) would be good. Moreover, some background in plasma physics would be helpful, but this is not required.