Nature of project: experimental, software
Available to students on full-time physics degree schemes or joint students.
All the laws of optics that you know start to break down when we make materials which are structured on the sub-micron size-scale of the wavelength of light, often called photonic crystals (PCs). A subcategory of PCs involves the packing of mono-disperse particles into ordered arrays, by various means, with well-defined periodicity. New optical effects are then possible such as photonic bandgaps, structural colour, and optical switching.
In this project, the student will build, test, and analyse the packing of ellipsoidal particles in 2- and 3-D, in a scaled physical model. Photography and image processing methods will be employed to determine the ordering of ellipsoids over different length scales, whilst the confinement, shape, and scintillation of particles may be varied and optimised.
A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
An analogue system of interest for the packing of micro-spheres into photonic crystals is the so-called "polymer opals"(POs), which is widely researched in the Dept.
As a development, students may begin to explore how their experimental results correlate with theoretical dynamic simulation models of the forces between particles in POs, and how they form ordered arrays.
When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.
Additional scope or challenge if taken as a Year-4 project: There may be possibilities to extend this project into the use of 2D and 3D optical simulation software, such as the freeware MEEP (ab initio); see http://meep.readthedocs.io/en/latest/Introduction/.
Please speak to Chris Finlayson if you consider doing this project.
Initial literature for students:
The project is likely to feature a significant practical component, and is therefore best suited for highly motivated and industrious students.
Students will be given suitable training as required on any lab or workshop equipment. I believe that the project would be suitable for the average 3rd Year physics student.
|milestone||to be completed by|
|Initial familiarisation with experiments and equipment||Christmas|
|Generation of target models and simulations||end of February|
|Completion of experimental work||mid-March|
Students taking this project will have to submit a full risk assessment form