PHYS 498 and 499 (Senior Seminar and Project) Fall 2019


PHYS 499 students - get talking to faculty NOW, (don't wait until the semester starts). If you have been involved in research with a faculty member, it is OK to dig deeper in that topic as the 499 project. I guarantee that putting together the Phys 499 report and doing the background work on it will get you much deeper.

PHYS 498 students - not a bad idea to start thinking NOW, and still is good idea to start talking to faculty before the semester starts. Think about it when it is still fun and deadlines are still far away.

See the list at the bottom of the page for potential topics that faculty have suggested.


Meets Friday 2:00-4:30pm (Class meets 2-3pm. Physics Colloquium (with refreshments starting at 3:00 pm) will generally end a bit before 4:30)

LaTourette Hall 227

The Fall 2018 syllabus (pdf) is posted in the handouts page (CT note 2019-01-03 - I will update soon with the Spring 2019 syllabus - but it is essentially the same as the Fall 2018!) .

The list below show all faculty who have given topics that they feel they can mentor or that might be suitable for project. To mentors (and advice to students) Student have the best time and are most successful with topics that have been fairly focused in scope from the very beginning.

Make sure to set up a regularly scheduled weekly appointment to meet with your faculty mentor.

And Faculty and students should remember - a one semester project must really come to some fruition at about 10-12 weeks. The last few weeks of the project are required for working on the reports and the presentation, and tying up loose ends. The capstone course has a pretty formal timeline and also provides some practice in managing and completing an individual project.

Catalog description:

PHYS 498. SENIOR SEMINAR (1 credit) Topics of current interest in physics and physics education. Attendance at the Department of Physics colloquium series required. PRQ: PHYS 374 and senior standing in physics.

PHYS 499. SENIOR PROJECT IN PHYSICS (3 credits, honors credit) Program of study and research in a special area of physics selected in consultation with a faculty member and approved by the depart ment chair. Project results evaluated by a faculty panel. A student who receives credit for PHYS 499 may not also receive credit towards the major in PHYS 459. PRQ: PHYS 374 and senior standing in physics.

Faculty and either their suggestions for topics or description of their expertise. The research active faculty in the department will have websites that discuss their interests and expertise. Students are encouraged to start talking to faculty NOW!. The topic and its boundaries need to be defined (and approved by faculty mentor) in under 2 weeks into the semester.

Where faculty and research faculty have provided them, some links to an article or site that illustrates the topic is provided.


Jahred Adelman

The Higgs boson: Why was it needed, and how was it discovered?

The Standard Model: Why is it incomplete, and where might we find new physics?

Gerald Blazey ... (on administrative leave from Department)

Dennis Brown

Mossbauer Spectroscopy

Dhiman Chakraborty

The mysteries of dark matter and/or dark energy.

The universal preponderance of matter over antimatter.

What is the origin of mass?

Swapan Chattopadhyay

Accelerator Physics

Omar Chmaissem

Neutron Scattering techniques

George Coutrakon

Medical Physics

Mike Eads

Muon g-2 experiments

Bela Erdelyi

Particle Accelerators: Their Science and Applications.

Andreas Glatz

Simulation techniques in condensed matter physics

David Hedin

Detecting particles and searching for new phenomena.

Yasuo Ito

Electron Tomography.

Laurence Lurio

X-ray lasers

Thermodynamics of membranes.

Stephen Martin

Supersymmetry and the frontiers of physics.

Beyond the minimal Higgs boson.

Triggers for new physics discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider.

Susan Mini ... (on administrative leave from Department)

Philippe Piot

Photon and Electron beams: Interactions, Synergies and Applications.

Carol Thompson

Green gap and efficiency droop problem in InGaN LED's.

Are bananas ferroelectric? - a current controversy (a cautionary tale of being a careful experimentalist.) also see followup in Scott, Ferroelectrics, multiferroics and artifacts: Lozenge-shaped hysteresis and things that go bump in the night

Atomic Force Microscopy of a crystal surface (requires a visit or two to Argonne)

X-ray reflectivity as a probe of surfaces and interfaces (requires some use and knowledge of matlab)

Kinetic Monte Carlo simulations of atoms dancing on a surface (some simulation)

Michel van Veenendaal

Observing changes with X-rays in a split picosecond.

X-ray absorption and X-ray scattering.

Roland Winkler

Aharonov-Bohm effect (a ”quantum paradox”: tuning the intereference of electrons by means of a magnetic field though the electrons never ”see” the field)

Berry phase (another ”quantum paradox”: if we ”rotate” a quantum system by 2pi, it can be different from the system before the rotation).

Schrdinger’s cat (another ”quantum paradox”: Why is Schrdinger’s cat dead and alive at the same time?).

Datta-Das spin transistor (a transistor that uses the electrons’ spin degree of freedom instead of the electric charge of the electron).

Coulomb blockade and single-electron tunneling (in the nanoworld, one electron more or less on a device can make a big difference).

Giant magnetoresistance (tuning electric resistance by means of a magnetic field, useful for modern harddisk read heads).

Zhili Xiao

Nanoscale Superconductors.

Nanomaterials based gas sensors.

New superconductors.

Vishnu Zutshi

Detectors in HEP and medical physics