Department of Physics
Postgraduate research topics
If you are looking for a topic for your Masters or PhD thesis, browse through the list of available topics below.
Students from New Zealand and across the world complete masters and doctoral degrees in Physics at the University of Auckland. For both programmes you need to define a project as part of the application process. Our scientists' interests are listed below and we welcome enquiries from interested students.
Specific projects that are guaranteed funding from grants and other sources are listed on our funded PhD opportunities page.
Students can also apply for University scholarships or arrange support from sources outside the University.
Feel free to contact our academic staff directly to discuss your ideas. Find our staff profiles.
Information about postgraduate study in the Department of Physics can be found in the Future postgraduates section.
|Supervisor||Research topics||Email for more details|
|Geoff Austin||The predictability of planetary atmospheres, non-linearity and chaos, fractal characterization of clouds. The physics of sustainable building technology and alternative firstname.lastname@example.org|
Research involves understanding the propagation of light through nonlinear materials and in how this can be used and manipulated to create new devices and applications. With Prof. Coen and Dr Murdoch I am exploring cavity solitons while with Prof. Harvey and Prof. Simpson we have an active programme looking at the generation of ultra-short laser pulses for micro-machining applications. Nonlinear Propagation in fibre tapers is explored through a collaboration with the University of Adelaide and the Southampton University while I have recently obtained funding to work with Cornell University looking at the physics of Optical Rogue Waves ( in collaboration with Dr Erkintalo at the University of Auckland and Prof. Gaeta at Cornell University).
The theory of open quantum systems with applications in quantum optics and quantum information. Dissipative quantum phase transitions for photons and applications of quantum stochastic processes (quantum trajectories) to cascaded open systems and systems with feedback.
|Roger Davies||Climate physics, satellite observations of the Earth's climate system, theoretical models of equilibrium email@example.com|
We seek to bring physics in the guise of ion physics into biology, environmental disciplines and renewable energy. The core of our programmes in ion physics concerns gaseous charged atomic and molecular species and their behaviour in electromagnetic fields and in atomic and molecular collisions.
|John Eldridge||The structure and evolution of stars, the evolution of binary stars, core-collapse supernovae, stellar population and spectral firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Malcolm Grimson||Condensed matter theory, currently focussing on size effects in thin ferroic films using statistical mechanical models of ferromagnetic and email@example.com|
|David Krofcheck||High energy nuclear physics using the CMS detector at CERN, signatures of strongly interacting quark gluon plasma via heavy ion firstname.lastname@example.org,|
|Rainer Leonhardt||THz spectroscopy, micro-structured low-loss THz waveguides, metamaterials, 1550nm waveguides in polymer email@example.com|
|Stuart Murdoch||Research topics include the generation of dispersive waves, cascaded four wave mixing, temporal cavity solitons, nonlinear Bragg scattering, widely tunable fiber parametric oscillators, the interplay of Kerr and Raman nonlinearities in fiber parametric amplifiers, incoherently pumped parametric amplifiers, nonlinear fiber sources for CARS.||firstname.lastname@example.org|
Complex systems, network science and econo-physics: generative models of network growth; analysis of scientific collaboration and innovation networks (e.g. network architecture arising from co-patenting, co-publication or geographic collocation networks); mathematical models of, e.g., knowledge flow; mathematical models for economic geography.
There is a lot of work to do in modelling microlensing events that are recorded by the networks of telescopes around the world, and in order to keep on top of it all we need to have clever algorithms to do as much of the modelling work as possible, without - or with minimal - human interaction. Getting a computer to perform the complex decisions normally based on human interpretation and experience is a challenge. A main goal of the research will be developing code to perform the necessary modelling of planetary microlensing events using graphical processing units (GPUs). A further goal of the research will be developing algorithms to, in real time, adapt their behaviour to optimise models autonomously.
|Cather Simpson||Fundamental research in the Photon Factory explores the fundamental interaction of ultrashort laser pulses with matter, both as a probe for unravelling the photochemistry and photophysics of light-activated molecules and the laser-induced patterning and ablation of solid materials in micromachining and email@example.com|
|Frederique Vanholsbeeck||The biophotonics group aims at developing new imaging techniques. Currently, we have a strong focus in optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fluorescence as described below. We are also looking at other alternative such nonlinear imaging like nonlinear firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Kasper van Wijk||We have PhD projects in extracting information from scattered waves in heterogeneous media. Indoors, these waves are of ultrasonic frequencies, excited and detected with lasers. Outside, our waves are in the seismic frequency band. Applications are numerous, but include CO2 sequestration and geothermal exploration, as well as micro-seismicity for fluid reservoir characterization, rock physics, ice core tomography, and medical email@example.com|
Nano- and microfluidics, especially ‘soft’ nanomechanics and the motion of liquids (and particles within them) on very small scales. Example projects involve resistive pulse sensing, non-wetting systems and high-speed photography. Student funding opportunities can be arranged under a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.