Open Positions and Research Topics

  • Summer jobs 2018

  • Post-docs

Positions currently open only for post-docs with pre-established funding.
  • Accelerated MSc and MASc

    • Electron calibration of the KDK experiment
KDK ( is an experiment measuring the radioactivity of potassium, a background in many rare-event searches.  The experiment includes a silicon drift detector (SDD) which triggers on the X-rays coming from potassium, but which also is exposed to betas coming from the source.  In this project, the student will study the response of the detector to betas.  This will involve designing, manufacturing and operating an electron gun sending electrons with an energy up to 20 keV at a rate of up to 1 kHz on the detector in vacuum with no parasitic light, as well as analyzing the data from the experiment.

    • Light readout of an experiment to measure fractures in scintillators
A potential background in rare-event searches using scintillation detectors is the propagation of small fractures.  We have designed a multi-channel setup to study the effect of fractures in scintillators ( and  The student will upgrade the light readout of this setup, by modifying the design to allow monitoring of the scintillator by two channels with different gains to allow for an increased dynamic range overall.  The student will also participate in data taking, analysis, and presenting the results, in order to understand the effect of atmosphere and temperature on the fractures.

    • Studying KSI at low temperatures
KSI is a novel scintillator with a very high light yield of 95 photons per keV.  Unfortunately, it is quite hygroscopic making it difficult to handle.  The student will be in charge of designing and manufacturing a housing for the scintillator which allows it to be coupled to photomultiplier tubes while being exposed to low-energy X-rays.  The student will then lead low-energy measurements, before adapting the setup for use in an optical cryostat and repeating the measurements down to temperatures of 4 K.
  • Graduate students

Students (MSc, PhD or other) interested in working on the following or related topics are encouraged to contact us:
  • Data analysis for the SuperCDMS experiment
  • Development of cryogenic detectors with background rejection capabilities
  • Novel applications of cryogenic detectors to materials science
See also astroparticle/SNOLAB graduate openings.
Departmental information on applying to Queen's graduate school.
  • PHYSICS 590 topics

  • Investigation of the low-temperature scintillation of KSI for particle detection
    KSI is a promising scintillator with a very high light yield. The project will involve characterizing it at room and low temperatures.
  • Data-analysis for the KDK experiment
    KDK searches for a rare nuclear decay of potassium. The student will participate in simulations and data analysis.
  • Dark Counts of Photomultipliers at Low Temperature
    Photomultipliers (PMs) are very sensitive light detectors.  The performance of PMs at low temperature is of great importance for many particle detectors using noble liquids such as Argon and Xenon.  There is however a surprising disagreement in the literature as to the behavior of PMs down to liquid Helium temperature (4 K): some groups find that the dark count noise decreases, whereas other groups find that it increases.  The student carrying out this project will attempt to resolve this disagreement.  The project will involve a review of the literature, the design and execution of some simple relevant experiments, and the analysis and interpretation of the results.
  • Cryogenic Studies of Wavelength Shifters for Particle Detection
  • Wavelength shifters like TPB (tetraphenyl-butadiene) are used by many rare-event searches to convert UV light emitted by an argon detector to the visible range, where it can be detected by standard photomultipliers.  Though many wavelength shifters have been studied at room temperature, they are less well-known at cryogenic temperatures.  We propose to investigate their scintillation properties (spectrum, light yield and timing) down to the temperature of liquid Helium (4 K), another possible detection medium.  The student will review the literature, then prepare, carry out and analyze experiments using a closed-cycle optical cryostat.
  • PHYSICS 455 topics

    • Design of a System to Reduce the Thermal Noise in Photomultipliers 
    • The student will design a system to reduce the dominant thermal noise in photomultipliers (PMs), a type of photodetector.  The system must be compatible with the high voltage used in PMs, and must have a large numerical aperture.  If a cooling option is chosen, provisions must be made to read out and control the temperature of the device, and care must be taken to avoid condensation.
    • Design and operation of a system to cool and study organic liquid scintillators down to 4 K
      The student will design an interface to allow organic scintillators to be cooled in an existing closed-cycle crostat.  The student will make recommendations on what organic scintillators appear most promising at 4 K, based on bibliography and computer simulations, and will operate the system to carry out experimental measurements.
    • Design and construction of a system to study acoustic emission in small samples
      In close liaison with an MSc project, the student will design a system to measure acoustic emission (AE) coming from brittle fracture in small samples.  The system will involve piezoelectric samples to monitor the AE, and force and displacement sensors to measure the load on the sample.  Programming of a data acquisition system capable of reading streams of data minutes long at nanosecond sampling will also be required.  Finally, the student will participate in measurements.
    • Design of a system to create indentations in samples down to mK temperatures
      This topic will involve designing a system to indent samples, at temperatures down to the millikelvin range.  The system can be piezzoelectric-based, for instance.  It will also measure the force being applied on the sample.