Research Area
Faculty Name Type Research Area Research Title Research/Project Short Description Desired Skills Type of Position Contact Info Available to ASU Online Students
Paul Davies Theoretical Cosmology, Particle, and Astrophysics Black hole entropy with time-dependent charge and cosmological constant. The entropy of a spherical black hole is proportional to its event horizon area, which depends on the mass, charge and cosmological constant. The horizon area is given by the solution of a simple polynomial equation. Some theories posit that the fundamental unit of electric charge and/or the cosmological constant might vary over time. The generalized second law of thermodynamics (horizon area should be non-decreasing) could then be used to constrain the permitted variations in the charge-cosmological constant parameter space. The project would be to plot that permitted zone. Acquaintance with the concept of black holes, basic algebra and computing skills. Volunteer
Philip Mauskopf Experimental Nanoscience and Materials Physics Superconducting quantum devices Work on a variety of superconducting devices including high frequency qubits, single photon detectors, microwave resonators and kinetic inductance detectors. Circuit design and simulation, 3D electromagnetic design and simulation, solidworks or othe CAD, python, VHDL Credit, Paid, Volunteer
Ricardo Alarcon Experimental Cosmology, Particle, and Astrophysics Development of diamond-based detectors for applications in nuclear and particle physics. The project consists of instrumenting and testing diamond-based detectors using radioactive sources. PHY-333 Credit, Paid, Volunteer
K.T. Tsen Experimental Biological and Soft Matter Physics Selective photonic disinfection of bacteria and other pathogens in wound by using femtosecond laser irradiation In this translational research project, we will employ femtosecond lasers to kill the bacteria as well as other pathogens in a wound while leaving the tissue unharmed. Basic knowledge on optics, lasers and Arduino for programming two dimensional scanning system with the motor drives. Volunteer
Antia Botana Theoretical Nanoscience and Materials Physics Electronic structure of quantum materials Projects for undergraduate students related to the theory of quantum materials are available. The primary goal consists on the application of computational methods to understand how electrons behave in these systems. The focus is on two basic phenomena: magnetism and superconductivity. Quantum mechanics, programming skills. Credit
Douglas Shepherd Experimental Biological and Soft Matter Physics, Nanoscience and Materials Physics Stimulated emission imaging Stimulated emission from a single molecule or a collection of molecules is thought of as indistinguishable from the stimulating beam. Recent theoretical work has suggested it may be possible to performing "stimulated emission imaging" using careful spatial and temporal patterning of the stimulating beam combined with sensitive detectors. Such stimulated emission imaging would allow for a new approach to quantify spatial location and concentrations of molecules with high sensitivity.

This project aims to determine the best class of molecule(s) to use for prototype stimulated emission imaging with the custom optical microscopy and interferometers available in the Shepherd lab. The student will be responsible for understanding the theory of stimulated emission, research available molecules to use for the experiment, preparing samples, preforming proof-of-concept experiments, and analyzing the resulting data.
Basic data analysis
Basic knowledge of optics
Credit, Paid
Michael Treacy Experimental Nanoscience and Materials Physics Euler's disk This project is appropriate for students who have taken graduate mechanics, PHY 521. In that class, I demonstrated a disk spinning and wobbling on a table – the so-called "Euler's disk". There was a homework question deriving a theory predicting components of the angular velocity as a function of disk tilt angle.

This project will use a student's smartphone as the experimental detector, along with the free app, PHYPHOX, to record the acoustic and visual frequencies – rate of rotation of the contact point on the table, and the rate of rotation of the disk itself – to explore how well the theory predicts these frequencies as a function of tilt angle. The work will consist of:
(1) establishing a successful experimental protocol (ie how to measure frequencies),
(2) acquiring good data,
(3) analyzing the data and comparing with theory,
(4) analyzing the effect of damping (if all goes well),
(5) writing up the report.
(1) Ownership of a suitable smartphone.
(2) Ability to analyze and plot data.
(3) This is mainly an experimental project that has not been done before (by me), so we should anticipate initial experimental difficulties. The student must be capable of dogged persistence and exhibit a creative drive to solve unexpected experimental problems.
Simon Foreman Theoretical Cosmology, Particle, and Astrophysics 21cm Cosmology and Large-Scale Structure What are the fundamental laws that determine the birth, evolution, and contents of the universe? The field of “21cm cosmology” aims to help answer this question, by measuring faint radiation from distant clouds of hydrogen gas, relating the distribution of these clouds to the underlying “large-scale structure” of the universe, and using the statistical properties of this structure to learn about the universe and fundamental physics.

Projects are available to investigate specific topics in 21cm cosmology, likely involving a mixture of theoretical and computational work. The precise topic is to be determined, but possibilities include: forecasting the sensitivity of the upcoming CHORD telescope in measuring the the cosmic large-scale structure; comparing the theoretical expectation for telescope noise to detailed simulations; developing mathematical techniques to account for filtering of foreground signals in theoretical predictions; implementing new techniques for simulating large-scale clustering; and contributing to data analysis infrastructure for the currently-operating CHIME telescope (
Familiarity with Fourier transforms, basic statistics, and scientific computing in Python or a similar language. Familarity with concepts in astronomy or cosmology is welcome, but not required. Credit, Paid No
Steve Pressé Experimental Biological and Soft Matter Physics From bacterial hydrodynamics to bacterial predator-prey dynamics

We have previously shown that bacterial predators, Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, hunt their prey, E. coli, by leveraging passive hydrodynamic forces rather than actively seeking out their prey through, say, chemical signaling. In particular, hydrodynamic forces can become manifest when predators move near surfaces forcing them to co-localize with prey. Here we propose to take this idea a step further and investigate the predator's hunting efficiency when it is part of a population of predator and prey within the microbiome of a living organism (in this case, the worm c. elegans). In living organisms, questions as to how predators hunt abound. For example we hope to address these questions: 1) how do we go about quantifying the kinetics of predation when all of the action takes place within the gut of an organism?; 2) how does the effect of physical confinement within the gut of c. elegans impact the predator's predation efficiency?; 3) what kind of (statistical mechanical) theories are required in order to describe predation dynamics when large fluctuations in levels of predator and prey are present within a living organism's gut?; 4) can we ever use this knowledge to engineer the predator as a living antibiotic? Prior experience in experimental biophysics (bacterial culturing and basic microscopy) desired but not required. Credit, Paid, Volunteer No
Steve Pressé Theoretical Biological and Soft Matter Physics, Nanoscience and Materials Physics Statistical mechanics meets AI/ML We live in an age where data abound and there is an explosion of new tools (AI/ML) inspiring us to think quantitatively about these data. Yet these tools, often inspired by developments in Mathematics and CS, are often black boxes and not suitable for applications within the Natural Sciences. Our goal is to advance computational tool, appropriate for the Natural Sciences, critical in gathering insights on life's processes observed through advanced microscopy techniques or astronomical events observed using modern telescopes. In particular, we develop tools of AI and machine learning, many grounded in computational statistics, to glean insights about our physical universe otherwise unavailable using traditional analysis techniques. For example, of particular interest, is unraveling the collective dynamics of molecular machines (i.e., transcription factors) operating cohesively at gene loci to read DNA's instructions. Unraveling these dynamics is especially complex as most events of interest occur on length scales far smaller than the light we use to observe them. Thus from a smattering of photons in space, of wavelength hundreds of times larger than the objects we care to characterize, must be derived insight on life's fundamental processes. Students working on this project will quickly become experts in state-of-the-art tools of AI and machine learning. Some programming experience is required.
Courses taken in machine learning or numerical methods is preferred though not required.
Credit, Paid, Volunteer Yes
Quan Qing Experimental Biological and Soft Matter Physics, Nanoscience and Materials Physics Integration of Raman spectrometer with quantum conductance measurement for multi-parameter single-molecule identification How do charges transport through a single molecule sandwiched between two metal electrodes? It has long been shown that the conductance strongly depends on the molecule’s structure, and the interface between the molecule and the metal surface. But such measurements have proved to be very delicate and conflicting results have been all over the map. For example, DNA molecules have been shown to be insulators, conductors as well as superconductors in different experiments. Indeed, with the rapidly expanding studies of conductivity of biomolecules, where hydrogen bonds, pi-pi stacking, hydrophobic interactions, and allosteric structures are actively involved, more and more results have been shown to fall outside the realm of conventional quantum tunneling theories. New developments at the intersect of physics and biology reveal a wide open field for exploration, promising new paradigms of how charges can transport in a 3D complex molecular systems, as well as label-free biosensors based on the dynamic conductance measurements.
However, all studies have been significantly limited by the techniques for constructing the metal-molecule-metal structure, mostly based on scanning tunneling microscope, mechanical break junctions, or brute-force top-down lithography. All measurements so far rely on the random diffusion and binding of molecules, and statistical analysis of hundreds to thousands of repetitive operations. It is extremely challenging to control the position and states of the molecule bridge between electrodes, and the operation typically require strict environment control and with high technical skills. Is it possible to construct a platform for highly reproducible measurements that brings together single molecule delivery, conductivity measurements and molecule structure characterization, such that a broad range of biomolecules can be easily investigated under physiological conditions? The goal of this project is to develop a microchip-based universal platform that integrates nanopore, tunneling junction and Raman spectroscopy for multi-parameter investigation of different biomolecules in physiological conditions during enzymatic activities.
The student will help the development of a customized Raman spectrometer and integrate with a nanoelectropore system to perform preliminary experiments on correlated Raman and quantum conductivity measurements on model molecules ranging from simple small molecules such as 4-mercaptobenzoic acid, to double-strand DNA molecules, and even larger proteins that can form molecule bridge through antibody-antigen interactions.
3D modeling, optics, electronics, programming Volunteer No
Robert Kaindl Experimental Nanoscience and Materials Physics Broadband Ultrafast Probes of Quantum Materials Our research explores fundamental and applied physical phenomena in correlated and nanoscale quantum materials using advanced ultrafast tools. Femtosecond light pulses provide unique opportunities to perturbatively resolve fast dynamics and interactions in these materials, and they can drive materials into new transient or metastable regimes via intense excitation. We are developing a new laboratory for tailored driving and detection of quantum and collective excitations using broadband terahertz, mid-IR, and visible light pulses as well as probing of electronic structure dynamics via time- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy (trARPES).

This effort provides many project opportunities, spanning initially the range from literature research and simulations, fabrication and characterization of 2D and correlated samples, to the design and development of nonlinear optical setups in the terahertz, mid-IR, and extreme-UV regimes. Moreover, our research is closely aligned with the ASU CXFEL program making possible laser-science projects connected to the femtosecond X-ray source and pump-probe setup that is currently under commissioning. At a later stage, the student can also get involved with the first time-resolved THz/mid-IR and ARPES experiments in our group to investigate the dynamics of quasi-particles and order parameters as well the properties of light-induced phases in two-dimensional, topological, and superconducting materials.
Interest in condensed matter physics, optics/lasers, programming, and data analysis. Prior experience in any of these areas is useful but not required. No
Jingyue Liu Experimental Nanoscience and Materials Physics Electrochemical Conversion of Molecules for Sustainable Energy Design and develop nanoscale architectures for electrochemical conversion of molecules with a focus on producing clean energy; understand the fundamental processes of fabricating functional structures at the single-atom limit; and correlate synthesis-structure-performance relationships. Strong desire to learn experimental skills in materials synthesis; experiences in handling chemicals and routine lab skills in a wet chemistry lab. Volunteer No
Mouzhe Xie Experimental Biological and Soft Matter Physics, Nanoscience and Materials Physics Experimental Quantum BioSensing (EQuBS) lab -- quantum metrology and high precision measurement using nitrogen-vacancy defects in diamond crystal As a new lab, we always have cross-disciplinary research projects available to postdocs, graduates, and undergrads! Please refer to for the latest update. Please email Prof. Mouzhe Xie ( for inquiries and to discuss details. No